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Heather Graham Bio
Heather Graham (born January 29, 1970) is an American actress. After appearing in television commercials, her first starring role in a feature film came in 1988 with the teen comedy License to Drive, followed by her breakthrough role in Gus Van Sant‘s critically acclaimed 1989 film Drugstore Cowboy. She then played a supporting roles in films such as Shout (1991), Diggstown (1992), Six Degrees of Separation (1993), Swingers (1996) and in the television series Twin Peaks (1991) and its prequel film Fire Walk with Me (1992), before gaining critical praise in Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Boogie Nights (1997) as porn starlet Brandi/Rollergirl. In 1999 she co-starred in Bowfinger and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
In the 2000s, Graham starred in films Committed (2000), Say It Isn’t So (2001), Anger Management (2003), Mary (2005), Gray Matters (2007), The Hangover (2009) and The Hangover Part III (2013). She also had a role in the TV series Scrubs in 2004, before playing the title character in the short-lived (one episode) Emily’s Reasons Why Not in 2006. Widely regarded as a sex symbol, she often appears in magazines’ lists of “Most Beautiful” and “Sexiest” women. Graham is a public advocate for Children International, and supported the climate change campaign Global Cool in 2007.
Early work (1984–88)
Graham’s first film appearance was an uncredited cameo in Mrs. Soffel (1984). Her first credited film appearance was in the television film Student Exchange. In 1986, she appeared on a special “Teen Week” episode of the NBC game show Scrabble. Then she appeared in numerous television commercials, and an episode of the sitcom Growing Pains in 1987. Her first high-profile starring role came in the 1988 Corey Haim/Corey Feldman vehicle License to Drive, as a popular girl named Mercedes Lane, who serves as the love interest of Haim’s character. Her efforts won her a Young Artist Award nomination in the Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Fantasy category. Her strict parents forbade her to accept a role in the black comedy Heathers (1988), which had an expletive-rich script. The same year she had an uncredited appearance as Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s mother in Twins (during the laboratory conception flashback).
From Drugstore Cowboy to Swingers (1989–1996)
In 1989, Graham was featured in Gus Van Sant‘s Drugstore Cowboy as Nadine, a young drug-addicted friend of the two main characters (played by Matt Dillon and Kelly Lynch). Her performance gave her career an initial boost and earned her a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress. She rejected a steady role in a TV soap opera and a three-picture deal with a major studio because she thought it would be too restrictive. After Drugstore Cowboy she appeared in Lawrence Kasdan‘s dark comedy I Love You to Death (1990), alongside William Hurt and Keanu Reeves and the rock-and-roll coming-of-age film Shout (1991), for which she received a nomination for the Young Artist Award for Best Actress Starring in a Motion Picture.
After co-starring with Benicio Del Toro in a Calvin Klein commercial directed by David Lynch, the director cast her as Annie Blackburn in Twin Peaks, where she appeared in the final six episodes. Following the show’s cancellation, Graham reprised the role of Blackburn in the 1992 prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.
She featured in Diggstown (1992), alongside James Woods; the well-received Six Degrees of Separation (1993), alongside Will Smith; and The Ballad of Little Jo (1993), alongside Ian McKellen before re-teaming with Gus Van Sant for the critically panned film adaption of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, alongside Uma Thurman. The same year she co-starred as Mary Kennedy Parker in Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle. In 1995 she starred as Jackie in the poorly received Desert Winds and guest-starred in an episode of the television series Fallen Angels. She had a small but important role in Swingers (1996), where she played Lorraine, Jon Favreau‘s love interest.
Wider industry and public recognition (1997–2003)
Graham’s popularity significantly increased after she appeared as Brandi, a young porn star, nicknamed Rollergirl, in Paul Thomas Anderson‘s critically acclaimed, award-winning Boogie Nights (1997). The cast received a nomination for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. The same year she also starred in the Gregg Araki film Nowhere, and had a cameo in the horror hit Scream 2. She was subsequently cast in Two Girls and a Guy (1998), a film mainly based upon dialogue between the characters which was shot in 11 days, which co-starred Robert Downey Jr. and Natasha Gregson; and the sci-fi film Lost in Space, which was met with mostly negative reviews and bombed at the box-office, making only $69,117,629 when its production budget was $80million. The cast was signed on for sequels that have not yet been made.
She starred as Felicity Shagwell in the 1999 sequel Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, which was a box-office hit. Shagwell is one of her best-known roles and became a fan favorite. Her turn as Shagwell also earned her a nomination for the Saturn Award for Best Actress. She appeared in the music video for Lenny Kravitz‘s cover of “American Woman“. Also in 1999, Graham co-starred as Daisy in the movie Bowfinger, opposite Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy.
The 2000 film Committed was her first starring vehicle. She played Joline, a devoted-beyond-reason young wife looking for the husband who left her. While the film itself received mixed-to-negative reviews, critics felt that “Graham shows she can play a central character” but noted “she’s not enough to make Committed successful”. The following year she co-starred as Annie Matthews, an unhappily married woman, in Edward Burns‘ Sidewalks of New York. In 2003 she starred opposite Joseph Fiennes in Chen Kaige‘s English-language debut film Killing Me Softly, which received overwhelmingly negative response from critics and a 0% at Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus being: “Respected director Chen Kaige’s first English-language film is a spectacularly misguided erotic thriller, with ludicrous plot twists and cringe-worthy dialogue”. In 2009, the site also rated it No. 12 on the countdown of the worst films over the last 10 years.
Graham’s other appearances in mainstream roles include playing Mary Kelly in the 2001 film From Hell, based on the story of Jack the Ripper, Anger Management (2003), opposite Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson, the Farrelly Brothers comedy Say It Isn’t So (2001), opposite Sally Field, The Guru (2002 film), opposite Jimi Mistry and Hope Springs (2003) opposite Colin Firth.
Independent films and television (2004–08)
During this period, Graham starred in the independent films Gray Matters, Broken, Adrift in Manhattan (all 2007) and Miss Conception (2008), which received negative-to-mixed reviews and most of them went largely unnoticed at the box-office. Her 2005 film Mary holds a 63% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, her first “Fresh” film since Bowfinger. The film premiered at the 2005 Venice Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Prize as well as three smaller awards. The film also played at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival, Deauville Film Festival and San Sebastián International Film Festival and co-starred Juliette Binoche, Forest Whitaker, Marion Cotillard and Matthew Modine. In 2006, she co-starred in Bobby as Angela; the film’s cast was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
During this period Graham also spoke about developing a comedy film titled The Accidental Virgin which would have focused on “female sexual confusion”, telling the story of a woman who hasn’t had sex in a year. The film has not been made. She also stated she would be interested in directing in the future if there is “something that, its burning in my mind that I need to do”.
On television, Graham played herself in an episode of the TV series Sex and the City. She was given special guest-star status on nine episodes of NBC-TV’s Scrubs during its fourth season (2004–2005), and also appeared as George Michael Bluth‘s ethics teacher in an episode of Fox’s television series, Arrested Development in 2004. She played Emily Sanders in Emily’s Reasons Why Not, however, the sitcom was canceled after airing only one episode.
The Hangover and after (2009–present)
In 2009, Graham played the stripper with a heart of gold, Jade, in The Hangover, which was released to critical and box office success. She won the role after Lindsay Lohan turned it down. Though she did not return for the sequel The Hangover Part II, she reprised her role in the final installment of the trilogy, The Hangover Part III. In 2010, she starred in Boogie Woogie, followed by roles in the unsuccessful films Father of Invention, 5 Days of War, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (all 2011) and About Cherry (2012).
She played Meredith Crown in At Any Price, which stars Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron and was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the 69th Venice International Film Festival, and later screened as an official selection at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals. Upcoming roles include mob lawyer Annette Stratton-Osborne in Behaving Badly and short story writer Mary Bellanova in My Dead Boyfriend (both 2014). She wrote a comedy screenplay called Half Magic, which she stated she wants to direct. She said the story focuses on “these female friends and sexuality and about people having a sense of shame about sexuality and learning how to have a healthier attitude about it […] It also deals with male/female relationships and sexism”.
In 2012 she was a member of the jury of the 15th Shanghai International Film Festival.
In 2014, she starred in the second adaption of the V. C. Andrews novel Flowers in the Attic on the Lifetime network. She played the character of Corrine Dollanganger; an evil mother who locks her four children in an attic in order to receive an inheritance from her dying father. Graham also appeared in two TV-movie sequels based on the V.C. Andrews’ series: Petals on the Wind and If There Be Thorns; continuing to play the role of Corrine Dollanganger. She appeared in the final season of Californication as the mother of David Duchovny‘s long-lost son.
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