Editor’s note: David Caplan is an entertainment journalist and the founder of GossipDavid.com. Previously, he was a senior editor of People Magazine and has worked at publications like Us Weekly, Star Magazine, and HollywoodLIfe.com. He is on Twitter.
It’s been 14 years since Katie Holmes zoomed onto the pop culture radar, making her debut on “Dawson’s Creek.” She immediately captivated Hollywood with her unassuming charm.
During the course of the show—and for a few years after it ended its five-year run in 2003—I recall press endlessly gushing about these attributes: “[Katie] is a throwback to the 1950s; she is a smart girl next door,” wrote The New York Times magazine. TIMEdescribed her as “impossibly lovely.”
But in 2005, when she began dating Tom Cruise, I believe her personality and demeanor changed significantly. I feel like she lost that twinkle in her eye.
I remember thinking this was especially evident during a 2008 interview with Diane Sawyer: Rarely emoting and exuding little warmth, she often looked down when answering questions and answered them with little enthusiasm. Even when asked about her daughter Suri — a topic most moms would be beaming about — she answered flatly, “In April, Suri will be two.”
Compare that with her interview with David Letterman during her “Dawson’s Creek” days: She lit up the “Late Show” couch! When asked about her interests, she giggled and said, “Shopping… coffee.” Did she have a lot of friends? “A couple,” she joked.
I’ll always remember the infamous photo of Katie at the Los Angeles premiere of her mini-series “The Kennedys” in March 2011 (see above). She stood pigeon-toed on the red carpet in a drab dress, her hair out of sorts, making what looked like an attempt at a smile. Girl looked tired!
Yet just hours after her split was reported, photos emerged of Katie, with Suri in tow, in New York City: Katie was reborn! She was now an independent single mom navigating the streets of Manhattan, with a smile on her face, a kick in her step, and a bag of groceries and toys in hand. I joked with a colleague, “Princess Diana was the ‘People’s Princess.’ Now Katie is the ‘People’s Single Mom.’”
In the days that followed, Katie was spotted grocery shopping at Whole Foods, loading up her cart like “regular” people. She was also spotted taking Suri to the Children’s Museum of Art, treating her to ice cream, and buying her a grilled-cheese sandwich for lunch.
Katie is now exuding an aura of independence. She’s “everywoman.” She’s relatable. Was she before? Not really. During her marriage, it was tough to empathize with her. Few people, if anyone at all, could look at her and think, “Yeah, I’m kind of like that.” And while she was somewhat relatable during her “Dawson’s Creek” days, she was still growing on people, and she was just too young to be relatable to the masses.
And Katie’s the first to admit she’s gone through an evolution, telling the upcoming issue of "Elle" in an interview conducted before the split, “I definitely feel much more comfortable in my own skin…I'm starting to come into my own.”
I say, nice to meet you, Katie! This is the relatable, happy-go-lucky, girl-next-door I’ve been waiting to find her way home.