Katherine Heigl joins 'Suits' Season 8 after Meghan Markle's departure

As Meghan Markle departs the hit USA Network series “Suits,” the series has found some new star power to replace her in the upcoming eighth season of the show. The network announced on Wednesday that Katherine Heigl will join the cast as a series regular.

The former “Grey’s Anatomy” actress will play Samantha Wheeler, a talented new partner at the show’s Pearson Specter Litt law firm. Her role will challenge the status quo of the office as she becomes either its greatest asset or most powerful enemy. Heigl’s presence on the show brings some much-needed star power to Season 8 after the announcement that Markle will be too busy gearing up for her royal wedding to return and Patrick J. Adams will not be returning to the show either.

SUITS -- "Full Disclosure" Episode 707 -- Pictured: (l-r) Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane, Patrick J. Adams as Michael Ross -- (Photo by: Shane Mahood/USA Network)

 (2017 USA Network Media, LLC)

“Joining ‘Suits’ was the perfect organic way to not only collaborate with an EP I admire deeply, but to also become part of a show and cast that I am an immense fan of,” Heigl said in a statement from USA Network. “I have watched ‘Suits’ from the very beginning and feel incredibly lucky to be the newest member of the Pearson Specter Litt family.”

Heigl will join the Aaron Korsh-created series alongside returning cast members Gabriel Macht, Sarah Rafferty, Rick Hoffman and Dule Hill.

“On behalf of the entire ‘Suits’ team, I am extraordinarily excited to welcome Katherine Heigl into our family – I have always been a big fan of her work and was delighted to discover she was an avid ‘Suits’ fan herself,” Korsh said, teasing slightly more detail about the new character. “I cannot wait to have her come play with our entire cast and crew. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Harvey, Louis, Donna and Alex as the mysterious Samantha Wheeler is a direct threat to their status quo. One thing is for sure – Samantha's wit, charm, loyalty, strength and vulnerability will all be put to the test as she muscles her way into the firm currently known as Pearson Specter Litt.”

Season 8 of “Suits” is expected to begin production in Toronto this April.