Katherine Heigl is back on TV in Suits – and sharing her thoughts as openly as ever

'When you're a working mum, everything requires compromise and adjustment'
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Katherine Heigl can’t help it. She just has to be honest.

Sometimes it hasn’t worked out so well for her. There was the time she declared her storylines on Grey’s Anatomy weren’t worthy of an Emmy nomination. There was also the time she called her hit 2007 movie Knocked Up “a little sexist”. But sometimes, it has worked out well.

Earlier this year, Katherine opened up on Instagram about how hard it had been for her to lose her baby weight. Her first biological child with musician husband Josh Kelley, Joshua Jr, was born in December 2016. Mums everywhere identified with her struggle.

“I think if you’re not honest, and you see everybody else’s story of how they just sort of miraculously bounce back, it makes you feel really alone,” Katherine, 39, tells TV WEEK Close Up.

“It’s like, ‘Oh, am I the only one who this is not so easy for, that I’ve had to really work on it?’ By being honest, it created a community of women who’ve had a similar experience. Suddenly, it’s not so lonely and you don’t feel like you’re in it on your own.”

Katherine is also mum to adopted daughters Naleigh, nine, and Adalaide, six. She’s opened up about how Naleigh bonded more easily with Josh than with her, and how she had to talk Josh into adopting Adalaide at very short notice.

“For me, it’s all about being really transparent about my life,” the actress says. “I’ve just always been that way and I’ve always felt empowered to share, especially if I think it’s something that can be useful or emotionally helpful to somebody else.

“But I love sharing my process of becoming a mother and starting a family, and how life-altering, mind-blowing and important all that has been for me.”

Katherine is currently playing feisty lawyer Samantha Wheeler in US drama Suits. That’s meant a big upheaval for her family, as they live on a ranch in Utah, while Suits is filmed in Toronto in Canada. Luckily, Josh was around to make sure it all worked out.

“The first three weeks I was here on my own,” Katherine explains on the phone from Canada. “Then my husband made the very brave journey and travelled alone with our at-the-time 16-month-old. That’s no easy feat!

“I’m so grateful, because I was really struggling. It’s very hard, as a mum, to pack up and leave your kids and go back to work. Even though it’s something I was excited about, it was still hard.”

Before long, Naleigh and Adalaide joined their mother in Canada.

“The girls were supposed to get out of school at the end of May,” Katherine says. “But I was missing them way too much and made the choice to take them out a couple of weeks early. Thankfully, their teachers were so supportive.

“They’re only in kindergarten and third grade, so it’s not the end of the world. But it was so great to get them here as quickly as I could.”

As filming for this season of Suits draws to an end, Naleigh and Adalaide will be back at school and Katherine will be making a few trips back and forth between Toronto and Utah.

“It’s going to be a bit of travelling and a little loneliness,” she reflects. “But when you’re a working mum, everything requires compromise and adjustment.”

Before Katherine joined the legal drama in its eighth season, she was a massive fan of the show. That made going on set for the first time a surreal experience.

“I was there for hair and make-up tests and camera tests,” she remembers.

“I looked up as they led me in and I went, ‘Oh, my God – I’m in Louis Litt’s [Rick Hoffman] office!’ It was so strange, as a fan, to walk behind the curtain and see the actual space I’d been absorbed in as a viewer for the past couple of years. It was thrilling, and I’m trying not to let go of that feeling. It needs to stay special.”

Naleigh and Adalaide also get a kick out of visiting the Suits set, but for a different reason.

“There’s always candy,” Katherine explains with a laugh. “It’s not to see me, and it’s not because they think the world is so interesting. It’s because there’s free candy and they can have as much as they like because Mum’s back is turned!”

Katherine adds that her young daughters think it’s “crazy” – in a good way – to have a mother who’s a TV star.

“We’ll see how they feel as they become teens,” she muses. “It’ll be interesting to see how their perspective changes.”

Life in Toronto is a huge change from life in Utah. The family shares their 10-hectare ranch with horses – some trained for dressage, one of Katherine’s hobbies. They also have donkeys, goats, dogs, cats and chickens.

“We live in a very rural part of Utah,” she explains. “We don’t get Uber Eats. We don’t even get pizza delivery to our house. So, to be in a city where you can just walk downstairs and go to an amazing restaurant, or walk down the block and go to a cool museum, has been really fun.”

Katherine has been documenting her family’s stay in Toronto on Instagram. There’s a photo of her with her three kids, sipping smoothies. There’s another with her daughters at the beach, eating ice-cream. There’s another with them all snuggled in bed together. The photos are gorgeous, but Katherine is thinking it might be time to “embrace the chaos” a little more.

“Recently, it was like, ‘You know what? I think I’m going to do a full month of not staging the photo,'” she says. “Here’s the reality, when we haven’t done the dishes and when everybody’s stuff is everywhere and the kids’ hair is all tangled.”

Bringing more honesty to Instagram snaps? That’s very Katherine Heigl.

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