In her latest role in the CBS drama Doubt (Wednesdays at 10/9c beginning this week), Katherine Heigl plays Sadie Ellis, a lawyer who gives new meaning to the term legal affairs when she begins sleeping with a doctor client (Steven Pasquale) accused of murder.

It’s a juicy new direction for the actress, who first caught national attention in her breakout role as an alien in Roswell, went on to win an Emmy for playing Dr. Izzy Stevens in Grey’s Anatomy, and starred in a host of romantic comedies (most notably Knocked Up) in between.

Now back on the small screen, Heigl explains why her new TV gig and her upcoming movie Unforgettable were too good to pass up.

“Your twenties are all so narcissistic and you think that everybody is judging you and everyone is thinking about all of the things you do wrong. And then you get to an age where you’re like: ‘I don’t care. I’ll be fine. As long as my family loves me.’ ”

Were you looking for a series when this came up?
I wasn’t. I was actually more focused at being at home in Utah with my family. Then I got the script. I wasn’t thinking I would say yes. I was like, “Yeah, sure, I’ll take a look at it.” But then I was like, “Oooh, this is a really good character and really intriguing.”

What intrigued you about her?
She’s a real idealist, which I don’t think I’ve really ever played before and she really does have these high moral standards that she holds herself to and just assumes everybody else does, too, which I find really interesting for a defense attorney. She isn’t jaded by it. She really does think she’s doing God’s work saving the defenseless and the voiceless and the powerless.

How does she reconcile sleeping with a client?
She is obviously clouded a bit by her not terribly professional feelings for this man. But she’s so determined to save him and to prove his innocence that she’s trying to separate herself emotionally, but struggling with it. And I feel like that struggle can go one of two ways: not realistic at all or it can feel very human. And that’s what I think we’re trying to do, keep it feeling very relatable and human.

In April, you star in Unforgettable with Rosario Dawson, playing a psychotic stalker who makes life hell for her ex’s new wife.
It’s a very, very different role for me, and a fun role to play. Kind of like Glenn Close…

In Fatal Attraction?
Yes. Rosario is incredible and we had such a blast. It was a very strong, female-driven project, which was kind of amazing and really inspiring. There’s a lot of freedom playing a role where someone is that disturbed.

Would you be interested in doing romantic comedies again?
Oh God, I would love to. Are you kidding? I have so many good ideas, I just need someone to buy them! I think it’s time. I think I wore out my welcome a little bit. I did too many and it was an onslaught, but it was such an exciting, fun time and I just loved every one of them. It was so fun.

What’s the greatest career advice that you’ve ever received?
There’s been so much. Probably, not to take myself too seriously, and that I think is an age thing. You kind of get there with age. Your twenties are all so narcissistic and you think that everybody is judging you and everyone is thinking about all of the things you do wrong. And then you get to an age where you’re like: “I don’t care. I’ll be fine. As long as my family loves me.”


Photo: Mark Schafer/CBS