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Netflix’s new drama Firefly Lane celebrates the unbreakable bond between life-long best friends Tully and Kate. Tully Hart (Katherine Heigl) is the outrageous and ambitious cool girl who will get what she wants no matter the cost. Kate Mularkey (Sarah Chalke) is the beautiful nerd with a heart of gold who doesn’t know her own power. Their friendship is forged over the course of three decades and held together by an intoxicating co-dependency familiar to anyone who’s ever been ride or die for a bestie.
Tully and Kate are the brainchild of best-selling author Kristin Hannah, who first introduced them in 2008’s Firefly Lane and its sequel, Fly Away. For over a decade, readers have fallen in love with Tully’s unflappable confidence and Kate’s own journey of self-discovery. So the pressure was on for stars Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke. The two beloved actresses not only had to nail the essence of “TullyandKate,” but also play both characters as college students, young journalists tackling the ’80s, and 40-something women grappling with their life choices in 2003.
According to Friedman, Heigl, who thinks of herself more of a “Kate” in real life, chose Tully because it scared her. Photo: Netflix
So what specifically scared Heigl the most about playing Tully Hart? “The fact that Tully doesn’t apologize,” Heigl told Decider recently. “Because it’s all I do! I spend all day everyday apologizing, for nothing most of the time.”
Heigl was so awed by Tully’s “unapologetic ambition,” she questioned herself. “I thought, ‘Can I can I do this? Can I understand a woman like this?’ I mean, I can certainly understand it. But can I do it? Can I find that in me?” Heigl said.
For Sarah Chalke, another self-described Kate, the hardest part was less introspective and more extroverted. Specifically a key scene later on in Firefly Lane Season 1 when Kate throws her insecurities aside and sings Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” during a karaoke date.
Something Chalke was not thrilled about…
“I was like, ‘Oh, but Maggie [Friedman], Mrs. McKinnon kicked me out of the choir in grade five and it left like a really large mark. And I don’t sing in front of anyone.’” And she’s like, ‘Here’s five songs. They’ve been approved, pick one.’”
Chalke recalled the anguish of practicing the songs in the car with her kids and sister Piper and the brutally honest appraisal her sister gave her. Ultimately, though, time (and music rights) were against Chalke so she had to unleash her inner Chumbawamba.
“So it was one of those experiences just like here’s my comfort zone,” Chalke said, marking a line with her hands, and then blowing past it. “Here’s singing in public.”
Karaoke aside, Chalke loved playing “all sides of” Kate Mularkey in Firefly Lane.
“All within the same day you’re dancing on the table, you’re doing a scene where you’re sobbing about the pain of your divorce and maybe you’re swimming naked in a pool at night in the winter in Canada.” Photo: Netflix
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Both actresses told Decider that despite the challenges, the joy of Firefly Lane was worth the effort it took to get out of their comfort zones.
Katherine Heigl said, “There was something so freeing about playing Tully about embracing that part of the Divine Feminine because I think it’s all part of it, isn’t it? You know, being tender, being empathetic, being a nurturer.”
“But there is also that other side to being a woman which is embracing yourself and loving yourself enough to know what you want and go after it and knowing who you are and your truth enough to not apologize when somebody doesn’t like it.
It’s about Tully and Kate, two women who fight for what they want in life with everything they’ve got.
Firefly Lane Season 1 is now streaming on Netflix.
Watch Firefly Lane on Netflix
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