Ten years ago today, the romcom gods blessed us with the gift that is 27 Dresses. The film had all the makings of a truly great romantic comedy, giving always-a-bridesmaids everywhere hope that their one true love was waiting right around the corner with a Palm Pilot in his hand and a James Marsden smile. "I love the romance, the wit, the chase, the catch; I love the whole thing," said Katherine Heigl, who established her romcom reign in her role as perennial abiding bridesmaid Jane, who, after years of hiding feelings for her boss, George (Edward Burns), is blindsided by his whirlwind proposal to her sister, Tess (Malin Akerman). Brokenhearted, she cynically dismisses her lovable and hot suitor Kevin (Marsden), but a few unforgettable nights—including an epic sports bar "Bennie and the Jets" duet—opens her eyes to the fact that he is her happily ever after.
Heigl never predicted that 27 Dresses would become a classic romcom that cable networks play on repeat, but she fully understands why it has. “I think people respond to it because it’s familiar,” she told InStyle, ahead of the movie's 10th anniversary. “People like Jane and Kevin don’t have this unrelatable ‘knight in shining armor’ thing. They’re quirky, witty, and interesting—but flawed too." 27 Dresses has proved to have impressive staying power—somehow, the movie feels as fresh as it did in 2008 (minus the Palm Pilots).
Plenty has changed for Heigl in the decade since she sported Jane’s 27 over-the-top hideous bridesmaid dresses onscreen. "It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long," she said, "But then I think about my life now versus then and I’m like, ‘Shit has happened!’ I was newly engaged and planning a wedding when I did that movie, and now I’m married with three children and I live in Utah. My life is totally different. It’s crazy.” We caught up with Heigl to reminisce about her favorite moments on set, her own bridesmaid past, and the sequel she desperately want to make. Scroll down to read the full conversation.
Before 27 Dresses, did you ever have to wear a nightmare bridesmaid getup? No! I'd been a bridesmaid once, years ago. But that bridesmaid dress was really beautiful. I kept it for a really long time and then finally went, “I have no use for this. I’m never gonna go to an event that requires this kind of gown in my personal life.” So I finally let it go, but it was really classy and beautiful.
Which of the 27 dresses from the movie was your favorite? I don’t know why but the short yellow one is always the one that I see in my head. It was the most outrageous and absurd in my mind.
Did you fantasize about your own wedding like Jane did? When I got engaged, I was probably way worse than she was. When we filmed the movie, I wasn’t newly engaged—Josh and I got married the December after. So it was probably a few months later, but we had been engaged for a year. I was wedding planning like crazy while I was filming that—it’s happened to me a couple of times in filmmaking where my life is sort of imitating the art, which is very strange. But all my life, I’ve had two teeth that stuck out, and I’d been fine with it in my film career. But for my wedding, I wasn’t okay with it. So I got Invisalign and I remember when we were filming, I was always having to take them out to do my dialogue or do a scene. I don’t know why, but your wedding is meant to be this one moment in time and you want everything to be perfect—including your teeth that you’ve never cared about before. I was probably worse than Jane.
What do you think Jane would be up to today? I have this whole concept that I really want them to do a sequel about. I think that maybe it’s not 10 years later in their relationship, maybe it’s only 5 or 6 years, but she’s not getting pregnant. She’s everybody’s godmother, but she doesn’t have her own. I so want to do that sequel. I think it would be really sweet and charming and interesting. 27 Christenings!
What was your first day on set of 27 Dresses like? It was really thrilling, honestly. We started filming in Rhode Island, and whenever you shoot on location, you tend to bond so quickly with your cast; we’d only have each other to go to dinner with and eat lunch with. You become this super close-knit group, and I was working with some of the greatest. I had so much fun with James Marsden and Edward Burns and Malin Akerman and Judy Greer. Like, these guys were the best. We were just thrown into it together. I never had a college experience, but I think maybe that’s what it feels like. You become so bonded so quickly and do everything together.
Did you improv any scenes? The "caulk" scene was relatively improv-ed, when they’re saying that Jane would caulk the fountain for the swans. That moment when she says, “I like caulk” and Kevin writes down, “Likes caulk.” I can’t remember exactly how it goes, but that was us just kind of being ridiculous.
What’s your all-time favorite scene from the movie? Probably the scene [when we drunkenly sing] "Bennie and the Jets." When you’re filming something like that, you can’t help but feel a little like that. It was such a jovial, fun-spirited, “I’m not gonna give a f—k” kind of scene. I think it took an entire night. It was probably not that bad, but just getting it right and hitting the mark and feeling like you’re not trying, that you’re just [acting] drunk and going for it—guaranteed we spent at least 8 hours on that scene. And I was with Jane on [not knowing the lyrics]. I thought it was "electric boobs." To this day, I’m not sure I actually know what the real lyrics are. I should probably have looked that up by now.
The cab scenes where Jane changes her outfits in the backseat are epic. What were those like to film? Frenetic. I’m surprised I didn’t throw my back out or pull a hamstring, because it is a bit of a contortionist act to take those giant dresses off, put on another one, and try to not flash everybody. But we only went about halfway each time; I wasn’t getting fully completely undressed every time ... Or was I? I must have had to take the dress off a few times and put on another one. You know, I had a strapless bra on. I wasn’t naked!
Have you ever attended two weddings in one night yourself? I have not. I haven’t attended a ton of weddings. I’ve probably only attended like three weddings in my life, including my own. My husband, Josh, gets invited to a ton of weddings. He has a big family—and we go to their weddings—but then he has an extended group of friends and roommates from college. We can never seem to make it because we’re always traveling or working. I have a friend who went to five weddings in one year alone. I find that appalling!
Do you keep in touch with any of your co-stars from the movie? I always run into Jimmy [James Marsden] in the most random places. I ran into him at a restaurant about a year ago—maybe it was two years ago already. I also ran into him at the after-party of a film premiere. He’s one of those people who I just adore. I think he’s incredibly funny and charming and smart and talented, so it’s always so fun to run into him. And then Edward Burns and I are trying to team up on a project, so that’s exciting and fun for me.
Jane and Kevin bond over loving the same wedding moments. What’s your own favorite part of the ceremony? Probably the reception. While I was getting married, I felt so self-conscious during the vows and when I was walking down the aisle and just being in front of everybody in that way. It’s a giant step in your relationship, and you’re nervous. So for me, the best part of my wedding was when it was all done, vows were said, rings were on, and it was like, “We did this! Ok, now let’s go drink!” But when I’m attending a wedding, I think my favorite moment is waiting for the bride to come down the aisle. Just that reveal. And the pure joyful fear that’s on her face is always really interesting.
Do you think Jane has adapted to the iPhone age and finally given up her day planner? No! I think people go down kicking and screaming about that sort of thing. I still even use a day planner! I can’t stop myself because I like writing things out and seeing them crossed off my list and all of that.
Your hair is darker in this film that in most of your others. Did you dye it for the role specifically? I totally did. I love to change my look, and I will use any excuse to do so. I thought Jane needed to be more of a mousy brunette than a blonde. Tess needed to be the blonde bombshell, and Jane needed to be more like she hasn’t done her roots. So it was totally an excuse to get my hair colored, but I loved it. I’ll look back at choices like that I’ve made in the past and be like, well, I made that from probably not a character place but more of an, “I’m bored with my hair color” place.
Romcoms are your kingdom. How does 27 Dresses stand apart from a Knocked Up or an Ugly Truth? It’s a little more lighthearted, I think. The Ugly Truth is great because it’s so R-rated and so crass, and Knocked Up is great because it feels very true to life, in terms of the relationships and the struggles and the miscommunications. It’s certainly meant to be comedic, but it’s also like, “Ah, I recognize that. I’ve had that argument before.” To me, 27 Dresses feels like more of a fantasy. And I love the fantasy, I really do. I think that’s the escape.