Looking lean, luscious and rosy cheeked, Heather Graham seemingly turned in those tell tale Boogie Nights (1997) roller blades for dangerously spiked leopard high heels, when she stopped by to do this interview for her up coming movie Sidewalks Of New York (2001).
Heather's combination of giggly and erotic, Rollergirl and Agent Felicity Shagwell, is striking and seductive in the flesh. But in ex-boyfriend Edward Burns' Sidewalks Of New York (2001), Heather retreats moreback into her familiar repressed and inhibited Catholic roots as uptight Annie. Much less inhibited was her conversation about lust, anatomy and virginity that goes on in the often spicy sex comedy, and what life is like after her very intimate interludes with Edward Burns and Heath Ledger.
Can I ask you a shallow question first? That does sound though like a bad question is coming! But that dress you've got on is sensational.
Oh, it's not a dress, it's a shirt! And it's by the company called Tree. Yeah.
So does every designer throw things at you now for free?
Yeah, it's so great. And there's some really cool stuff, I've gotten some great little freebies.
Your character Annie in Sidewalks Of New York (2001) gives a speech about what it was like loosing her virginity. How autobiographical was that confession?
Oh, that losing my virginity story was not true. But it was funny, because I was with a bunch of my girlfriends talking about that very subject. And we asked each other, is there anyone here who like had a good time when they lost their virginity? And none of us did! Even the guys didn't, it was horrible, you know?
Was it refreshing for you to play a nice, sweet Catholic girl for a change?
Nah, it's too close to the truth for me. So I like to avoid it at all costs. But no, it was fun.
A big theme in the movie is cheating. Do you think it's possible for human beings to be faithful, or is it just an ideal that we all dream about?
I do think it's possible. But I think it's rare, because a lot of people aren't really honest enough. Like I actually have a bunch of friends in happy, great relationships. And they're people whom I never thought could be that way. But I think that happens when people are really honest about who they are, and they're willing to go through some bad times together. So who knows? I hope that I can have a long term, great relationship like that.
What is your own personal take on relationships?
Umm. .. I think they're fantastic. And I guess I think you learn a lot about yourself through being in them. And it's good, it's good to. .. .have sex! I don't really know. I mean, I just think that it's good to keep trying, and keep having 'em.
I guess it might be a little bit harder. Because you feel you're under more scrutiny. But I don't know, I think it might be nice to date somebody who's not in this same world. I might try that next! Yeah, I'm gonna try that.
Is Edward Burns like any of the men in this movie, including the one he plays?
Nope. And I wouldn't say he's anything like the character he plays either. But I think he likes to write parts for himself as like the perfect guy. Then all the other characters get to be the real assholes, so he doesn't have to be that. And then he's perfect!
Ouch! How weird was it working together when you had a thing going on?
Yeah, we worked together when we were together. And that was kinda fun, because it was being with somebody and working with them at the same time. And feeling a certain level of comfort with knowing that person while you were working together.
So that was great. You know, you support the person you're with, and what they're doing. And they support you back. But now so much time has gone by, that all of that is not an issue anymore.
Did Eddie have your relationship with him in mind when he wrote the script?
He had actually written the script before I met him. So my character in the story is not the story of my relationship with Eddie at all. So it had nothing to do with our relationship. Thank God!
The movie also makes a point of Eddie's character Tommy applying cologne to a highly unusual part of his anatomy before sex. Anything autobiographical about that?
Well that's what first attracted me to him in the first place. No, I'm just kidding! I was like - sniff - hmm!
Do you have any personal tales to tell like that about any of your own intimate encounters with strange male mating habits?
I don't know. All I can think of is some of those Sex In The City episodes, you know? Like the guy with the bad tasting cum. Do you remember that? I'm just so obsessed with Sex In The City. But instances in my own life are not like coming up immediately. .. .
You were voted Most Talented by your high school class. What was that all about?
Because I was a nerd, and it was the only thing I was good at. I was like a drama nerd, I was in a lot of plays. Like I played Lola in Damn Yankees, and I was in The Bad Seed. But I was just always doing the plays in school, so that's probably why.
Do you ever dread getting your first wrinkle?
Sometimes I do worry about it. But I kind of grew up as like an awkward kid. And I think you always sort of feel how you felt when you were a teenager. I don't know if it's true, but I've always felt like an awkward teenager. So I was kind of startled when people saw me as attractive. And I don't feel that way, I don't think that's really me.
So I'm not like that horrified about getting wrinkles. I mean, I do think it will suck. But I don't see myself as like this beautiful, glamorous person. I just see myself as more like this nerdy geek that people think is attractive. So that's really cool!
Have your parents still not seen any of your movies?
I don't really like to talk about my parents. Because I just feel that it gets misinterpreted in the press, and stuff...
Do you have any kind of secret life that involves like maybe wire hangers, or are you an awful person or anything like that? You're so sweet in person. And sometimes terrible things come out about delightful stars after they die, like Joan Crawford.
Hmm. .. .I definitely have a dark side. Yeah. And whenever you do interviews like this, you always try to be more cheerful than usual. Or otherwise it would be too frightening. So I'm not going to show you my really evil side! But it's nothing like too scary, or abusive. Hopefully.
Why do you think some stars end up cracking up like that?
Well I think there's the pressure of everyone looking at you like you're some kind of different person, when you're not. You're just the same as everyone else. It's like you're expected to be like a child, and have these tantrums and craziness. But I'm really into yoga, which is great for de-stressing. And if you're angry, or sad or whatever. It kind of like releases everything, almost like getting a massage from the inside out.
Do you ever miss your pre-celebrity anonymity?
Yeah, I guess. There's something great about being anonymous. But at the same time, being an actress and being known has its definite perks.
Well, you get tables at restaurants really fast. And you get free clothes. Which all my girlfriends have now been harassing me for, trying to get my leftovers off of me! But yeah, free clothes and free tables at restaurants.
And then it was really bizarre for me as an eighteen year old kid, to like move out on your own when you're in high school, and afford your own place. And that was really amazing. I remember sleeping on my bed one night, and just thinking like wow, I paid for this bed with my acting! Like that's really cool.
You've hit the big time as far as movie parts go. What keeps drawing you back to the smaller indies?
Indies let a lot more edgier, raw stuff be shown in those kinds of movies. They'll take on topics that big movie studios won't. And directors like Eddie get to have a lot more autonomy. You know, it's not like a lot of people are looking over his shoulder and telling him, don't do this, or don't do that. It's like he did Sidewalks Of New York (2001) for not a lot of money, so he had complete freedom to do whatever he wanted.
You have four films coming out soon. Why do you work so much, because men are so awful and then you're too busy to date them?
Well, I've been dating them anyway, so all this work hasn't really been helping me! But as an actor, you hate to turn down opportunities. Because it might end up being something really great and you turned it down.
It's just great to be able to play opposite people who are talented and charismatic, and stuff like that. But I'm not really looking at it like my personal dating service. And he's in a relationship, so I'm not about to go, oh my God!
I did have a crush on Johnny when he was in 21 Jump Street. I've always been totally starstruck. But he's embarrassed to talk about that. I guess he doesn't think of it as such a great point in his career!
What is From Hell (2001) all about?
It's a Jack The Ripper story that's taken from a comic book graphic novel for adults. And it's one theory about who Jack The Ripper was. I play a prostitute who was one of his targets. But. .. I'm not telling you what happens! It's directed by the Hughes Brothers, and they are so talented and fun to work with. And I get to have a cockney accent.
Will your erotic thriller Killing Me Softly (2001) be a controversial movie when it comes out?
I think it will be. But it's actually a lot less controversial than the novel. It has a way different tone, and the ending is different. It's a lot more about relationships, trust and love. And lust. Because the book is verging more on sado-masochism. But the movie is more about paranoia and trust. And they changed a big plot point. But there is one scene that will probably be controversial. For sure.
Drugstore Cowboy (1989) was a big turning point for you in your career. How do you see that experience, looking back on it now?
I don't know. Gus Van Sant is an obviously talented director, and I guess he gave me a shot. I don't think I really saw how big a film that was going to be, because I wasn't really savvy at that time.
Was it hard for you to shake off that Boogie Nights (1997) porn image of you as Rollergirl?
Not really. There's not that many porn star parts out there! You know, roller girl porn star parts. So it wasn't like I got offered tons of things like that. There was more of a lasting association after Austin Powers, when they were offering me all these broad comedy parts.
Do you think there are these big misconceptions out there about you?
You know, it's weird. Because whenever I get asked that question, I feel that by saying yes, I'm further reinforcing the misconceptions. You know what I mean? So I like to say, I don't know. I don't want to pay any attention to that, and I don't care.
After being in a movie like Sidewalks Of New York (2001), which is all about how the sexes don't understand each other, what did you come away with feeling is the biggest misconception males have about females?
I think that guys don't really realize that girls have a lot of similarities to them. Like they think that we're all these pure little things that never feel lustful. And I think that's. .. not true!
You have the most memorable line in Sidewalks Of New York (2001), when you tell Stanley Tucci's character that his penis is too small. Have you ever said something like that to a man in real life?
Well, I don't think I should tell you if I've ever said that! No, it was really fun to say that, it was really, really fun.
But you weren't looking at your director boyfriend Eddie when you were saying that?
No, not at all. But I actually would never say something like that to anybody. Because, you know, what you're given physically is not who you are. Unless the person's a horrible asshole like Stanley Tucci in the movie!