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Janet Evanovich, author of the popular Stephanie Plum series, decided Katherine Heigl would be perfect for the lead role in a movie based on her book, One for the Money, after she saw Heigl’s performance in 27 dresses. “I just knew it,” Evanovich told the actress. “From that instant, you were Stephanie Plum to me.”
The instant she is referring to is when Heigl’s 27 Dresses character fled from a bar, cursing loudly. The movie is an adaption of Evanovich’s first book and is set to hit theatres in January. It has been 17 years since the first novel in the Plum series was released, and Heigl will play the role of main character, Stephanie Plum, who goes from being a lingerie salesperson to a bounty hunter.
The book series has sold 80 million copies with nine landing at the number one spot on USA Today’s best sellers. Evanovich stated, “I don’t know why it took so long, but as far as I’m concerned, the search is over. Every time I write Stephanie Plum, it’s going to be Katherine Heigl’s face there. She totally nailed it.”
The author just released the 18th book in the series, Explosive Eighteen. Although Evanovich gave up any say in the casting for the main role and had sold the rights to One for the Money before being published in 1994, her ideal actress to play Stephanie Plum still got the part.
Names of certain actresses sometimes cropped up from time to time as potential leads, but none were who the author wanted. “Every now and then, I would get a phone call that would be: Jennifer Lopez is going to be attached to this,” said a disinterested Evanovich. “Or, Reese Witherspoon. There was never anybody really there.”
Many fans wanted Sandra Bullock, but the author was still not satisfied with any Hollywood actresses. “I had been going around to everybody saying Katherine Heigl has to be Stephanie Plum, and then one day, I got that phone call saying that it was Katherine,” said an excited Evanovich. Heigl, herself, was pleased to be chosen for the role.
When she was working on the set of The Ugly Truth, producer Gary Lucchesi gave her a copy of Evanovich’s One for the Money, and Heigl loved it. “Two months later, someone was able to get me to come out of the bedroom after I had gone through 10 books. (They are) so addicting,” said Heigl.
Lucchesi and Lakeshore Entertainment got the rights and chose Heigl to star as Stephanie Plum. However, the fans were not happy that blonde Heigl would be playing the brunette bounty hunter. Heigl said she tried dying her hair brown, but decided instead to wear a wig. The actress enjoyed going to the gun range to train for her role, but she said she had a hard time with the New Jersey accent.
“It was nerve-racking,” she said. “There were moments I saw it wavering. I’m normally the jerk in the audience who goes, ‘Blah, they totally lost the accent there.’ This was karmic.” Heigl claimed to be very vocal about staying true to the original story. “I became very possessive of Janet’s material. I was really loud about how important it was to honor the book,” she insisted.
Evanovich was kept in the dark and did not know how the movie would turn out. “I was terrified to see it,” the author said. “But when I did, it was everything I could have wanted and more. I was almost in tears when the movie ended. I was so relieved.” Heigl was ecstatic that she was happy with the movie and ended up developing a friendship with the author. The two talked about future plans for more Plum movies.
However, since there are 18 novels so far, it would be an impossible feat for Heigl to star in each one, since Stephanie Plum stays at age 32 during the entire series. “You’ll have to go to the gym and no Cheetos,” said Evanovich. Heigl jokingly claimed she could prevent aging with botox, then said, “But if we shoot six at a time, there we go.”
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