It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 10 years since Heather Graham strapped on a pair of roller skates to play a porn star with the proverbial heart of gold in “Boogie Nights.” It’s even harder to fathom that the still-fresh-faced beauty actually started acting a decade before that alongside the heartthrob of the day, Kirk Cameron. Graham, starring in the new romantic comedy “Gray Matters” as a woman who realizes she’s gay when she falls for her brother’s fiancee, recently reminisced with MTV News about her wide-ranging film and television career.
“Growing Pains” (1987)
Graham, like so many, found her early work on the small screen.
“I had a huge crush on [Kirk Cameron] in high school. I didn’t get to actually kiss him on the show, though. I was in an episode where he invited three girls to the dance — a blonde, a brunette and a redhead — and he couldn’t decide who to go with. And then I did another episode where I was a cheerleader. That was my first job!”
“Twin Peaks” (TV series; 1991), “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” (movie; 1992)
After dabbling in the movies with “License to Drive” and “Drugstore Cowboy,” Graham got a plum recurring role on the cult 1990s TV show.
“I had done a commercial with [director] David Lynch. He was doing all these Calvin Klein Obsession commercials, and mine was with Benicio del Toro. We had one where we kiss, so I had met [Lynch] for that. When he put me on ‘Twin Peaks,’ I was so excited.”
“Six Degrees of Separation” (1993)
The critically hailed film adaptation of the play helped launch not only Graham but also her co-star Will Smith.
“It was about an aspiring actor coming to New York, so I could totally relate, of course. I remember one day we were rehearsing and Will was sitting with Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing and he was like, ‘How do you act? What do you do?’ He was just a good student and he was never arrogant.”
The low-budget flick that became something of a phenomenon found Jon Favreau’s character falling big-time for Graham’s Lorraine in the third act.
“We had no money and we were shooting in a bar that was open to the public. So the camera was there but no one was really paying attention. Jon [Favreau] was supposed to sit in this seat next to me and this random guy just sits down and tries to pick me up! The camera was rolling, so I was just trying to pretend like nothing was happening. It definitely added some reality.”
“Boogie Nights” (1997)
Graham’s heartbreaking portrayal of Rollergirl remains one of her most indelible performances to date.
“[Director] P.T. [Anderson] is so passionate about what he’s doing and infuses everyone with that passion. He’ll just come up to you and say, ‘You’re going to be so f—ing good in this part! You’re just so great I can’t believe it!’ And you’re just like, ‘Yeah!’ He gets you jazzed. I really like my scene with Julianne [Moore] where I ask her to be my mother. And I like the one where I kick the guy with my roller skates.”
“Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” (1999)
The name of her character says it all — Felicity Shagwell.
“I just felt like it was about a person who was comfortable and proud of her sexuality, which wasn’t really me. I liked playing that. It helped me learn something about myself.”
In this underrated Steve Martin/ Eddie Murphy comedy, Graham traded on her innocent image to play someone with a darker side.
“I am so happy I was in that movie. Eddie [Murphy] was really nice to me. He was definitely serious and focused. My part was like the ‘Six Degrees’ girl with an evil twist.”
“Anger Management” (2003)
Graham only had one scene in this Adam Sandler comedy, but she made an impression as the hot girl who definitely turned out to be too good to be true.
“I love that scene! Women in comedies don’t usually get to do stuff that’s crazy and out there and I just love that I got to be so neurotic and crazy. There were a few times where I was just shoving all those cupcakes in my mouth and I was cracking up. I would be laughing and cupcake would be coming out of my mouth. I loved how ridiculous the whole thing was.”
“Emily’s Reasons Why Not” (2006)
Graham’s return to TV starring in her own sitcom was as short-lived as they come. The show famously aired only once before getting the ax.
“It’s weird that [ABC] invested all that money into publicizing it and then only aired it once. It’s strange that they would believe in it enough to push it and then just not believe in it enough to keep it on for any period of time. I guess it’s all meant to be in a certain way for a reason.”
“Gray Matters” (2006)
In recent years, Graham has starred in many small independent romantic comedies. This one has a unique twist.
“It’s a traditional format and throws in this really modern twist where she discovers she’s gay. I loved the combination of those two things and the message of the story about celebrating who you are and accepting yourself. I’m a frustrated musical-comedy star. Doing a movie like this is like living out a fantasy. When I got to sing with Gloria Gaynor, I was so excited! I am such a ham. I loved every minute of singing ‘I Will Survive.’ I was dying to do that.”
Much of the pre-release buzz for the film has revolved around Graham’s kiss in the film with Bridget Moynahan.
“It’s kind of cool. You get cast in this part and you get to kiss this beautiful girl. We were just laughing about it. We need all the help we can get. We’re a small independent movie. I’m like, ‘Dude, keep [the publicity] going.’ [She laughs.] There’s an X-rated love scene in this, and you have to go see it!”
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