Katherine Marie Heigl was born in Washington, D.C. on November 24, 1978, to Paul and Nancy Heigl. The youngest of four children, Heigl and her family settled in New Canaan, Connecticut, when she was 5 years old. "I had a wonderful childhood," Heigl once recalled. "Things were very simple. Everyone else went to beer parties; we played sardines and charades and Scrabble and went to Baskin-Robbins. It was innocent, and it was lovely—because life gets complicated soon enough. Life gets hard soon enough."
Katherine was first thrust into the limelight as a child model. An aunt, visiting the family in New Canaan, took a number of photographs of Katherine, then aged nine, in a series of poses to advertise a hair care product she had invented. Upon returning to New York, with permission from Katherine's parents, she sent the photos to a number of modeling agencies. Within a few weeks, Katherine had been signed to Wilhelmina, a renowned international modeling agency. Almost immediately, she made her debut in a magazine advertisement and soon followed this with an inaugural television appearance in a national commercial for Cheerios breakfast cereal.
Heigl kicks off a busy year of film releases with the pharmaceutical-themed romantic comedy Side Effects. The in-demand actress also stars alongside Jackass star Johnny Knoxville in the Farrelly brothers comedy The Ringer, with Mena Suvari in the indie comedy Caffeine, and with Tom Sizemore in the box office bomb Zyzzyx Road. "The thing about Katie is the girl's a sport," Zyzzyx Road producer and star Leo Grillo tells Entertainment Weekly. "She ran around in a negligee in the desert, and she hated the desert. In one scene of the movie she has to fall, and she did it 10, 11 times."