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Heather Graham | A Pretty Powerhouse
an emily blunt interview




Heather Graham is a pixie girly girl with a steel mind behind those baby blues. Her comedic timing is impeccable. Though I enjoy all her work, none makes me giggle harder than her Ann Heche send-up in Steve Martin's bitter beau with a splash of revenge comedy Bowfinger.

Heather's currently starring in the Bollywood meets Hollywood offering The Guru. Again the pretty young vixen plays a porn star - but she also plays a strong female lead underneath the superficial title. Whether she's titillating a super spy (Mike Myers in The Spy Who Shagged Me) or seducing an up and "coming" actor in the field of porn (Mark Wahlberg - Boogie Nights), or selling her wares to Jack the Ripper ( w/Johnny Depp in From Hell), Heather illuminates the screen. She's gorgeous and talented - a sinister combo!

We had a chance to talk about her career and her goals at a swanky Hollywood hotel. She's down to earth and a feisty little ball of talent. Let's get to it.

Emily: You know I have to ask you, since people will notice...were you concerned about playing yet another porn star?

Heather: Basically, I only want to play porn stars.[laughter] I want to see if I can have my entire career and only play that role. It'll be fun. [obviously she is joking.] Yeah, I read it and I thought, "Oh, I love it, but I don't know if I can do it because everyone's going to ask me why did you do that?" And then I just thought, "Who cares? I think it's really good and funny and I like my character a lot" and I could relate to a lot of things with my character. I thought it was a really unique story, a story that I'd never seen before in a movie.

Emily: What part of your character, Sharrona, did you personally relate to?

Heather: Well, because I was in porn movies… no! [laughter] Basically, I could relate to the new age kind of healing stuff that my character talks about and I liked the idea that I had these things to say that were wise and interesting but that actually no one would take me seriously. But, if someone else said them, then they sounded really good and everyone thought it was genius. I liked the love story about a girl, basically a person who feels like if they really are themselves, they won't be accepted. I think a lot of people feel that way and I like that I created this whole other personality in this guy to make him like me, but then I learned that actually someone will like me even if I am myself. I just think that's a cool story.

Emily: How was Jimi to work with - he's quite a little studmuffin though not the traditional Hollywood lead and of course it's all women behind the scenes.

Heather: He's great. I mean, I guess since I am female, it's funner for me in a way because you can relate more to some of the things they write and we can relate more. And I didn't have to be naked and he did, so basically that was good. And, I don't know. It was fun. I think Jimi's a great actor. I think he's really good.

Emily: The cool thing is Ramu is more like what women really go for or end up with. Do you think the girl power behind the scenes was the reason they didn't cast a white guy to play an Indian guy?

Heather: Well, a female might have a little more insight into being more, not a minority but you feel like you're not part of a white male world. You can understand more what it's like to not be the power, part of the power group. I guess you just feel like there's a whole story that's not being told in movies. You're only seeing the macho guy version of a story that from the woman's side may be completely different. I just think it's funny because I've been trying to develop things because there's less opportunities for women. We were selling this idea that's alittle bit Sex and the City-ish and they said, 'Oh, you know what? Sex and the City has already done this. A lot of people watch Sex and the City, and it's a movie that would make over 100 million dollars basically, but Sex and the City has already done it.' I laughed and I was thinking, 'That's not enough. Like, one show? It's not like you do The Terminator and say let's not do XXX.' People think 'Well, you've done one woman show, it's done' but no one just thinks about every single action movie that's exactly the same. I went to see some trailers and it's like 'He's a trained killer. He's a trained killer.'

Emily: Were they closed minded because it was a male executive looking at a predominantly female project?

Heather: I don't know. I think women can be like that too. Basically, we have this sex comedy idea and they're like, 'Well, The Sweetest Thing didn't make money so female sex comedies don't make money.' And I'm like, 'Well, Bridget Jones made money.' I'm just seeing it's harder for women and any kind of minority, like obviously have you thought of a movie that has an Indian lead? Like an Indian man lead. You can't really think of any other than maybe Gandhi, and he's a historical figure, so it's not like- - So, I just think if we have more of that, it's good for all of us. It's fun to see movies about people from different backgrounds and to appreciate people from different cultures. Hopefully, it'd be nice if there was less racism in the world and maybe we should all be open to different kinds of movies I guess.

Emily: True. Bollywood is lava hot in England - here we have a taste - like Monsoon Wedding and so on. Had you experienced Indian culture and Bollywood before making the movie?

Heather: I was exposed to some things about Indian culture like yoga and I read books on shakras and tantric sex and stuff like that. And I've been really into aesthetically like furniture. In my house, I have a lot of exotic-y kind of Indian Moroccan Asian stuff, but I've never seen Bollywood until the movie. Then when I saw it, I was really excited to get to do it.

Emily: You just went to India right?

Heather: I did. I went to India as part of this magazine article and it was really fun to see Bollywood, and it was really cool but I had an experience a little bit like the movie where you think something's one thing but it's actually not. When I went, I thought, 'I'm going to have this deep spiritual epiphany here and my life's going to make sense' and it didn't. And I just thought, wow, it's really hard getting around and it's just a lot more difficult living there, for me, because I'm used to living in America. There were amazing moments, but I found myself missing all my materialistic comforts. It was amazing and the pictures look amazing, but it was funny because Jason was like, 'I like traveling in Europe.'

Emily: Did you identify with Marisa Tomei's character Lexi's search for the "answers?"

Heather: To be honest, I kind of identify with all the characters in a way. I identify with Jimi because I wanted to be an actor. I watched movies and thought, 'I want to be in movies' and wanted to be an actor. And then you feel like you want to get in and maybe you don't get in the way you want, so you're like, 'Well, how can I get in? What way?' And then thinking somebody will make you happy and maybe it doesn't, and something else makes you happy. I identify with Marisa's character in that I think sometimes I find that I want to find answers from someone. I want somebody to be like, 'I know the answers and they are this.' So, you look to someone else and you're like, 'Tell me the answers.' And even if they don't know anything, and in fact you know more, you just want to feel like someone knows the answers so you believe somehow they do and then you actually realize that they don't, that you're better off following your own judgment. And I guess I like my character because I feel that I have wisdom that I don't give myself credit for. I feel that, like I learned in the movie, that someone can actually like me for who I am. I don't need to try so hard to be someone else.

Emily: Being a chickbabe under the press eye do you find your personal relationships changed or strained because of the infamous spotlight?

Heather: Well, in the spotlight or not, all relationships, you learn different things from them. I guess you learn from each relationship regardless of whether it's in the spotlight or not and I guess I've learned a lot. I've learned that it's better to really go for it and really open your heart and you get a lot back from doing that and just more of what you're actually compatible with, and what exact kind of person you need because of who you are.

Emily: My brother insists I ask you this- are you attached at present?

Heather: Yeah, I'm dating this guy, Chris Weitz.

Emily: So how does Heather Graham meet a nice guy?

Heather: I met Chris through Daisy, basically. I met Chris through Daisy, the director [of The Guru] because she went to college with his brother Paul.

Emily: It's almost Valentines - and since I live vicariously through friends that have beaus, let me ask what's he do that's romantic?

Heather: [laughter] He's a really good cook, so he cooks really amazingly well.

Emily: Like most talented successful actors of late, you're looking to produce now right?

Heather: Yeah, I'm looking to develop material and produce it but I'm really doing it to just find better material to be in and eventually, maybe I'd want to produce it. To be honest, I'd probably be selfishly doing it for myself first. I think I'd be doing it for my own opportunities first and then just to tell a good story, but I would love to get people jobs that are great that aren't getting shots.

Emily: What about the next acting role, Anger Management? How was that experience?

Heather: It was really so fun. I loved working with Adam Sandler and it was just a really fun part. It was really like get in and get out but make the most of the moment, the time you're there. And, it was just fun. I played a psycho girl and he was just really charming and he's got this great group of guys around him that make you feel like you're one of the guys. They gave me a cigar and went fishing, and they're the most supportive people. You'll do one line, like 'I'll see you later.' They're like, 'That was great!' I'm way crazier than him in the movie, my character.

Emily: In The Guru you handle the dance segments like a seasoned pro! Smoke and mirrors combined with a good editor or are you a dancer?

Heather: Thanks! Actually, I've taken dance classes and studied it. I love dancing. I wouldn't say I was actually a dancer but I am somewhat trained. It was really fun. It was kind of intimidating because there were people there that were like, 'Okay, you have to do hand exercises. Go like this.' Whatever. There's eye exercises. There are so many different kinds of ways that you're supposed to train in dance, so we just try to pick up as much as we could.

Emily: I packed on the pounds this holiday season- you're the picture of fit. How do you do it!

Heather: [laughter] Well, I think that good genes and doing yoga a lot. I do yoga five times a week. It's funny because actually I made my boyfriend go to yoga and when it was over he's like, 'Okay, now I see why you're in such good shape. That was miserable.' I go to these very hard yoga classes.

Emily: I do yoga - but the wimpy videos that you can pause, grab a martini, fix a snack and leisurely come back to it [laughter]. Maybe that's the problem. Are you ready for a dramatic role?

Heather: I would love to do that. When I saw The Hours, I thought, 'Oh, I love that' like a great drama about women. I'd love to do something like that.

Emily: So is that the avenue your looking to develop?

Heather: Yeah, we're developing stuff like that. It's just like the more drama women material there is, the harder- - as a producer, you learn, the harder to make it. Those movies are harder to get made. I'm learning as I've been engaged in development and producing that a woman's movie, drama, much harder to get made.

Emily: Are you going independent or trying a studio?

Heather: We have a few different ideas of varying sizes, so whoever.

Emily: You should ring Drew Barrymore. She's very into - obviously- women powered shindigs.

Heather: I have actually. She's given me some advice. It's easier to get a romantic comedy made, for example, for a woman than it is to get a woman's drama made. It's like, 'One woman's drama was made this year, so what are you going to do? That was it.'

Emily: If you could get anything made, what project would it be?

Heather: I mean, at the end of the day, I just want to be in something good. It's not a specific thing, but I guess interesting parts for women really interest me. There's not millions of them out there.

Emily: What's the worst job you've ever had?

Heather: This guy fired me after hiring me. It was this movie called Scorchers that was probably about 10 years ago. He fired me, it was horrible. He told me to go to his house to rehearse with him. Later on I realized this was creepy. We were rehearsing at his house all the time. And then he ran an acting class and made me go in his acting class and perform the scene for all the students. I was really nervous. I was like, 'Let me do it again because I was just too nervous' and he's like, 'No, you're wasting my class's time.' He was such a mean guy.

Emily: Where is he now?

Heather: He's not working, I think [laughter].


There you have it. We can look forward to a more serious Heather in the near future if she gets her wish. They say comedy is the hardest to do right- so Heather should be a natural in a drama. The Guru is pretty cute. And Anger Management, with Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson follows that - so she's a busy little gal and I don't think any of us are troubled by that.


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