From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Isobel Katherine Stevens|
|Grey's Anatomy character|
Katherine Heigl as Dr. Izzie Stevens
|First appearance||"A Hard Day's Night"|
1x01, March 27, 2005
|Created by||Shonda Rhimes|
|Portrayed by||Katherine Heigl|
|Occupation||Surgical Resident at Seattle Grace Hospital|
|Parents||Robbie Stevens (mother)|
Isobel "Izzie" Katherine Stevens is a fictional character from the medical drama television series Grey's Anatomy, which airs on ABC in the United States. The character is portrayed by actress Katherine Heigl, and was created by series producer Shonda Rhimes. Izzie works at the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital as a surgical intern and later resident, with storylines focusing on her relationships with fellow staff members Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), George O'Malley (T.R. Knight) and Alex Karev (Justin Chambers).
Izzie appears from the first episode of Grey's Anatomy, meeting fellow interns Meredith Grey, Cristina Yang, George O'Malley and Alex Karev. She and George move in with Meredith and become best friends. Izzie's boyfriend, hockey player Hank (Jonathan Scarfe), struggles to accept her new role as a doctor, and the two break up. Izzie is hurt when Alex exposes her past as a lingerie model. However, the two later go on to begin a friendship and then a romance. Alex experiences sexual dysfunction with Izzie and cheats on her with nurse Olivia Harper (Sarah Utterback). When Izzie finds out, she breaks up with him, though they briefly reunite following a bomb scare at the hospital. Izzie falls in love with cardiothoracic patient Denny Duquette, and the two become engaged. When Denny's condition deteriorates, Izzie deliberately worsens his health further by cutting his LVAD wire to move him up the donor register. Although Denny receives a new heart, he has a stroke hours later and dies. Izzie is the sole beneficiary of Denny's will, inheriting $8.7 million. She uses the money to open a free clinic at the hospital: the Denny Duquette Memorial Clinic.
Izzie disapproves of George's relationship with and later marriage to orthopedic resident Callie Torres (Sara Ramírez). She and George sleep together, and attempt to keep their liaison a secret. George is the only person aware that Izzie gave birth to a daughter at the age of 16; ultimately the child was given up for adoption. He also supports Izzie when her daughter Hannah (Liv Hutchings), diagnosed with leukemia, arrives at Seattle Grace Hospital in need of a bone marrow transplant from Izzie. Izzie's feelings for George grow, and she reveals that she has fallen in love with him. When Callie discovers George has been unfaithful, the two separate, and George and Izzie embark on a short-lived relationship, only to discover there is no real chemistry between them.
Izzie supports Alex when he discovers his new girlfriend has psychiatric problems, and convinces him to have her committed. She is also handed primary responsibility for the clinic, as Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), the resident in charge, cuts back on her responsibilities. Izzie and Alex go on to rekindle their relationship, though Izzie is concerned when she begins hallucinating about Denny. She discovers she has metastatic melanoma (Stage IV) which has spread to her liver, skin, and brain, causing the hallucinations. Her survival chances are estimated at only 5%. She is admitted to Seattle Grace as a patient, and Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) successfully removes a tumor from her brain. Izzie spends her time in the hospital planning Meredith and Derek's wedding, but when her condition worsens and Derek discovers a second tumor in her brain, they give the ceremony to Izzie and Alex, who marry in front of all their friends. The procedure to remove the second tumor from Izzie's brain causes her to lose her short-term memory, and although she soon regains it, she flatlines moments later. The fifth season ended with her friends ignoring her DNR order and attempting to resuscitate her, transposed with images of Izzie in an elevator encountering George, who has been in an accident and is also currently flatlining. Though George dies, Izzie is resuscitated and recovers enough to return to work. After making a treatment error which endangers the life of a patient, Izzie is fired from the hospital's surgical program. Believing Alex is partially to blame, she writes him a Dear John letter and leaves. Izzie later learns that Alex was not responsible for her losing her job, and returns to make amends with him when Meredith informs her he is moving on from their relationship. Alex breaks up with her, telling her that he loves her but deserves better.
Izzie was created by Grey's Anatomy producer Shonda Rhimes, with actress Katherine Heigl cast in the role. Heigl originally wanted to play Izzie as a brunette, but was requested to retain her natural blond for the part. With regards to her comprehension of medical procedures and terminology, Heigl has explained that: "I have no idea what I’m talking about. There are other actors on the set who are more fascinated with medicine, but I'm not one of those people. I admire doctors, but I’m an actor." When Kate Walsh's character Addison Montgomery left Grey's Anatomy to launch the spin-off show Private Practice, Heigl disclosed that she had hoped for a spin-off for Izzie.
Heigl declined to put her name forward for consideration at the 2008 Emmy Awards, releasing a statement which explained: "I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization decided against competing. In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials." Following Heigl's statement, speculation arose that Izzie would suffer a brain tumor and be killed off Grey's Anatomy, substantiated by the announcement Jeffrey Dean Morgan would return to the series as Denny, who died at the end of season two. ABC's entertainment president Steve McPherson denied the rumor, stating: "There is an unbelievable storyline for her this year, which is really central to everything that's going to go on this season".
Speculation resumed, however, when Dean Morgan returned to the show for a second time in its fifth season. Cast member James Pickens, Jr. announced that both Heigl and T.R. Knight were set to depart from the show, but he later retracted his comment. During the course of the fifth season, Izzie was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma (Stage IV) which spread to her liver, skin and brain. Following the show's one-hundredth episode wrap party, Heigl revealed she did not know if Izzie would survive. She commented: "I was assuming that [Izzie would die] at one point, and I got a lot of shrugged shoulders and shakes of the head, so I don't know if that's a yes or a no. No one will tell me and I don't know how this is going to go." It was confirmed in June 2009 that Heigl would return as Izzie for the show's sixth season.
Heigl has stated that the Grey's Anatomy writers incorporate much of the actors' personalities into their roles, calling Izzie the "super moral" version of herself. Episode "Bring the Pain", which aired as the fifth episode of the second season, was originally intended to be the final episode of the first season. Rhimes has explained that Izzie's character in this episode came "full circle" from her role in the pilot: "Izzie, so vulnerable and underestimated when we first meet her, is the girl who removes her heart from her sleeve in "Bring the Pain"." Discussing Izzie's personality in a 2006 Cosmopolitan interview, Heigl assessed that: "she can always put a smile on her face and listen to endless hours of George whining about Meredith. She's immensely kind." When Denny died in the season two episode "Losing My Religion", Rhimes discussed the impact it had on Izzie, noting that Izzie is forced to abandon her idealism, which in turn leads to her letting go of medicine. In the aftermath of Denny's death, Heigl came to believe that Izzie was not cut out to be a doctor. Executive producer Betsy Beers explained, however, that Denny's death served to make Izzie more mature, and Heigl affirmed that: "At the beginning of the [third] season they were trying to show how lost Izzie was. She lost her optimism. She realizes now that life is difficult, but she still tries very hard to see the best in people." In order to demonstrate Izzie's dislike of George's love-interest Callie, Rhimes penned a scene which she has deemed one of her favorite moments on the show, in which Callie urinates in front of a stunned Izzie and Meredith. Rhimes assessed that: "I love that Mer and Izzie respond with all the trauma of having viewed a car crash [...] the point is Callie pees and Izzie tortures her a tiny bit about the hand washing and that made me overjoyed because that’s the kind of thing people do."
Discussing Izzie's relationship with Alex in a 2006 Cosmopolitan interview, Heigl assessed that: "Even when Alex was a complete dirtbag to her, she forgave him and gave him another chance. And he really screwed her over. [...] To go for a guy like that is to say "I want to be damaged." Izzie is too naive in that she thinks she can save him. Writer Stacy McKee has deemed Izzie's moving on from Alex to patient Denny Duquette "karma", as Alex previously treated Izzie badly, yet as he begins to realize his true feelings, he is forced to watch her embark on a romance with "the undeniably handsome - and totally charming" Denny. Series writer Blythe Robe commented on Izzie and Denny: "I love the way Izzie lights up when she’s around him. I love their relationship because it's so pure and honest and completely game free." Writer Elizabeth Klaviter noted at this time the way Izzie "seems to be sacrificing her reputation because of her feelings for Denny." When Izzie deliberately worsened Denny's condition to move him up the transplant list, series writer Mark Wilding questioned the morality of the actions, asking: "is Izzie bad for doing it? Is she tremendously irresponsible? She cut the LVAD wire for love so does that make her action understandable?"
Rhimes has discussed costuming choices in the scene which saw the interns gather around Denny's deathbed, explaining: "Meredith and George and Cristina and Callie and Alex are all dressed, not for a prom, but for a funeral. Everyone in dark colors, everyone dressed somberly. As if they were in mourning. Only Izzie is in happy pink. Only Izzie looks like she didn’t know this was coming." Following Denny's death, Heigl approached Rhimes to ask when her character would next have a romantic liaison. Rhimes explained that "Izzie doesn't sleep around". Heigl expressed a desire for Izzie to reunite with Alex, explaining: "I believe on some level, there’s a connection between Izzie and Alex. He can do honorable things even though he's cutting and sarcastic. I would like to ultimately see them together, if not this season, then next."
Heigl was critical of her character's development in the show's fourth season, particularly her affair with George, which she deemed "a ratings ploy". Heigl explained: "They really hurt somebody, and they didn’t seem to be taking a lot of responsibility for it. I have a really hard time with that kind of thing. I’m maybe a little too black-and-white about it. I don’t really know Izzie very well right now. She’s changed a lot." Attempting to rationalise Izzie's actions, Heigl later assessed that: "People who are so infallible, perfect and moral tend to be the first to slip and fall. But I would love to see how she deals with the consequences of what she’s done, because what’s interesting is when people make decisions that shake their world, they suddenly have to go, 'Woo, I didn’t know I was capable of this.' I’d like to see Izzie take some culpability."
Heigl was nominated for the "Best Supporting Actress in a TV Series" award at the 2007 and 2008 Golden Globe Awards for her role as Izzie. She was named "Favourite Female TV Star" at the 34th People's Choice Awards, and awarded "Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series" at the 2007 Emmy Awards. Prior to the ceremony, considering Heigl's chances of winning the Emmy, Variety's Stuart Levine assessed of her performance: "Heigl has little difficulty reaching Izzie's highest highs and lowest lows. Showrunner Shonda Rhimes puts a lot of pressure on Heigl to carry many intense storylines, and she's up to the challenge." Levine also noted, however: "There are times when Izzy becomes completely irrational during crisis situations, which may bother some."
During the show's third season, the New York Post's Robert Borke deemed Izzie to be "the heart and soul" of Grey's Anatomy. He deemed her the show's heroine, and wrote that: "Izzie is a welcome, calming presence, despite the devastation she experienced when she failed to save her patient and fiance Denny Duquette. [...] Besides the formidable Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson), Izzie seems to be the only adult intern at Seattle Grace; the character has achieved a depth lacking in her fellow interns." Eyder Peralta of The Houston Chronicle was critical of Izzie's ethics in cutting Denny's LVAD wire, writing that she "should not be practising medicine" and stating: "That's the reason I don't watch Grey's Anatomy, anymore, because the super hot blond chick can make an earth-shattering, fatal decision and she doesn't get canned." The season four romance between Izzie and George proved unpopular with viewers, and resulted in a fan backlash. The return of Izzie's deceased fiancé Denny and the resumption of their romance during the show's fifth season also proved unpopular with fans, and was deemed "the world's worst storyline" by Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times. McNamara was also critical of the episode "Now or Never", which saw Izzie flatline following neurosurgery, opining that Izzie ought to die. The episode in which Izzie married long-term love Alex received 15.3 million viewers, the largest television audience of the night.
Izzie's cancer storyline received a mixed response from the medical community. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, commented that Izzie's treatment options were unrealistic. Whereas in the show she was offered the drug interleukin-2, in reality the drug is never recommended to patients when melanoma has spread to the brain, as it can cause bleeding and strokes. Brawley explained that such patients would instead be offered radiosurgery. Conversely however, Tim Turnham, executive director of the Melanoma Research Foundation, praised Grey's Anatomy for bringing about greater public awareness of melanoma, stating: "We welcome the national spotlight Grey's Anatomy has created for melanoma and its efforts to encourage viewers to learn more about the importance of prevention, early detection and research."
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