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Heather Graham - Biography

Heather Graham

Personal details

Name: Heather Graham
Born: 29 January 1970 (Age: 44)
Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Height: 5' 8"
Awards: No major awards

All about this star

Biography:

It’s amazing that Heather Graham, at school mocked as “a flat-chested geek”, should have grown up to be regarded as one of modern-day cinema’s few sex sirens. Not only is she seen as physically beautiful, but also, in contemporary parlance, completely “up for it”. This is partly due to her most famous roles: as porn star Rollergirl in Boogie Nights: agent Felicity Shagwell in Austin Powers 2: prostitute Mary Kelly in From Hell: a voracious starlet, sleeping her way to the top in Bowfinger: then another porn star in The Guru, and a stripper-come-escort in The Hangover. On top of these, there’s been a string of high-profile boyfriends, and a succession of sexually candid interviews concerning her purposeful rebellion against a strict Catholic upbringing. Seldom is her name mentioned without sex being mentioned also. And even more seldom is her acting ability discussed, despite her having  been nominated for an Independent Spirit award for one of her very first roles, and having delivered a string of impressively intense performances over the last 20 years.

She was born Heather Joan Graham on the 29th of January, 1970, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her father, Jim, worked for the FBI, specialising in anti-terrorism techniques, while her mother, Joan, was a successful children's author. Both were staunch Catholics. There'd be a younger sister, Aimee, who'd also turn to acting, appearing in the likes of From Dusk Till Dawn and Jackie Brown.

Jim's FBI work meant the family were forced to relocate occasionally when Heather was very young, not easy for a shy girl. She'd attend her first elementary school in Virginia. Eventually, though, they'd settle in the Agoura Hills, just north of Los Angeles, where Heather would attend Sumac Elementary School, then Lindero Canyon Middle School, and finally Agoura High School.

At school, young Heather was not one of the popular crew. As said, she was mocked for her lack of breasts (they would come later. And keep coming), ignored by the boys and labelled a geek. More specifically, she was known as a "theatre geek". That acting bug had struck again. Heather's mother later recalled often finding her daughter behind the furniture, play-acting with her dollies. Heather herself remembers seeing Raiders Of The Lost Ark and being intrigued by a love scene between Harrison Ford and Karen Allen. That, she says, was when she "fell in love with the movies and the opposite sex".

Having first taken to the stage as Dorothy in a school production of The Wizard Of Oz, middle and high school saw Heather really go for it. In her high school sophomore year, she was President of the Drama Club, appearing in The Bad Seed, as the seductress Lola in Damn Yankees, and in many other productions. Her senior class would vote her Most Talented.

But she was also ambitious out of school. Though her parents did not really approve of her choice of career, her mother would drive her to auditions in Los Angeles. In her mid-teens, she scored adverts for Ivory shampoo and Mountain Dew, as well as an uncredited role as a Factory Girl in Gillian Armstrong’s Mrs Soffel, starring Diane Keaton and Mel Gibson. By 15, she’d have an agent, and by 16 a major part in a middling Hollywood movie and a minor one in a blockbuster. She'd also appear on the NBC game show Scrabble, appearing during their Teen Week.

1987 saw Heather appear as Dorrie in the high school comedy Student Exchange, where some unpopular kids try to win their peers' approval by stealing the identities of foreign students who don't show up. And there were two appearances in the Family Ties-style sit-com Growing Pains. Then the next year saw something of a breakthrough with Licence To Drive. This was a movie very much of its time, one of several vehicles for the two Coreys, Feldman and Haim, who'd made a name for themselves as a teen double-act in The Lost Boys. Here they're buddies once more, with Haim, who doesn't have a driving licence, feeling forced to "borrow" his grandfather's Cadillac, in order to impress hot girl, Mercedes. Naturally, the hole he digs for himself gets deeper and deeper as the night goes on, with the car getting gradually brutalised. And Heather shone as Mercedes, bemused by the pair's antics, as well as dancing suggestively on top of the poor vehicle. Her efforts won her a nomination as Best Young Actress at the Young Artist Awards.

Having also scored a small role, in flashback, as the young mother of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in Twins, Heather was on a roll. She'd even been able to turn down a soap part, thinking it wasn't worth leaving school for, and a 3-picture deal with a major, believing it to be too restrictive. She was certainly far more popular with the boys. But there was strife in the Graham household. For a start, Heather was not keen on Agoura, later saying "It was way conformist; people were just white, Republican, upper middle class - everyone was the same. The arts were not embraced".

And the arts, at least Heather's kind of arts, were certainly not embraced by her Catholic mum and dad. As a kid, she been encouraged to enter a convent and forbidden even to watch The Love Boat. Jim and Joan were absolutely adamant that she should not appear in any movie featuring sex, an attitude that cost her the lead role in Heathers, the dark high school comedy that made an instant star of Winona Ryder. Perhaps it was lines like "F*** me gently with a chainsaw" that turned them off.

Whatever their reasons, the damage was done. Now earning enough money from acting (she'd not got quite enough from her jobs at Toys R'Us and as an usherette at the Hollywood Bowl), she moved out, taking her own flat in Hollywood - and this while she was still finishing school. Her feelings of oppression at the hands of her parents and their religion would cause her to often mouth off against Catholicism. Once she claimed the Church was "made up of closed-minded men who believe a woman's sexuality is evil". By her mid-twenties, Heather would stop seeing her parents at all. For their part, they'd claim that "Our religion has to do with love and forgiveness. We never expected her to become a nun", adding that they invited Heather to all family occasions, but she never returned their calls. In interviews, Heather would not discuss the matter.

Her parents may have denied her Heathers, but now she was 18 and away from home, they could do nothing to prevent her taking on her first important role, as Nadine in Gus Van Sant's Drugstore Cowboy. In fact, her reaction to Jim and Joan's severe faith may well have informed many of her later choices, too.

Drugstore Cowboy was a tough and heavy portrait of two junkie couples in the early Seventies, who turn over drugstores for money to feed their addiction. Matt Dillon and Kelly Lynch starred as the Bonnie and Clyde-style prime movers, with Heather and James LeGros as their goofier, more pathetic friends. By appearing to glamorise addiction, the movie was controversial, but it was also brilliantly made. And Heather was really good as the sad, OD-ing Nadine, being nominated for an Independent Spirit award.

It seemed as if fame and fortune must surely be hers. In fact, she'd have to wait another eight years to hit the heights. Perhaps Drugstore Cowboy was too heavy, perhaps her Nadine made casters believe she was just too out-there, but the parts dried up completely. There was a brief appearance in I Love You To Death, where jealous wife Tracey Ullman tried to get River Phoenix to kill her cheating hubbie Kevin Kline, only to see him hire bungling assassins Keanu Reeves and William Hurt. But, losing out to Sarah Jessica Parker for a part in Steve Martin's LA Story, that was it.

Faced with a bleak present and no future, Heather decided to better her chances by returning to education, enrolling at UCLA and majoring in English. She remained there for the best part of two years, but couldn't shake the bug and returned to the fray.

Now parts, albeit minor ones, began to come her way. First was the utterly bizarre comedy drama Guilty As Charged, where religious zealot Rod Steiger, aided by sidekick Isaac Hayes, rigs up his own electric chair to punish the wicked. Heather played the assistant of a dodgy politician who frames an innocent man for murder, throwing Steiger into a quandary. Then there was a TV cult hit with Twin Peaks, which Heather entered late in the day, as Annie Blackburn, the ex-nun who becomes Agent Cooper's girlfriend. She'd also appear in the Twin Peaks prequel, Fire Walk With Me.

And she'd date Cooper for real, getting involved with Kyle MacLachlan. This was the first of several flings she'd enjoy with colleagues. Later, she'd explain "When I was younger I felt that when I was on a film set pretending to be in love with someone, it helped to take an extra step and really do so. It's supposed to add chemistry between the characters. But a movie set is fake. It's such a false environment, your own judgement is hurt".

After Twin Peaks came Shout, where she played the girlfriend of James Walters, a rebellious Fifties school-kid sent to reform school but aided by rock'n'roll loving teacher John Travolta (Gwyneth Paltrow would also have a small role). Then came O Pioneers!, based on Willa Cather's hit novel, where Jessica Lange played Alexandra Bergson, an independent and free-spirited farmer at the turn of the 20th Century, battling with her brothers over the family's land. Heather played the younger Lange.

Next there was Midnight Sting. Here James Woods makes a bet with a smalltown big-wig that ageing boxer Louis Gossett Jr can knock out ten of the town's finest in 24 hours. Heather was there looking pretty, at the personal behest of Woods. She'd taken his fancy when he saw her reading The Brothers Karamazov, and the pair began to date though, then in his forties, Woods was twice her age. Later Heather would say "I dated a lot of older men until I went into therapy and discovered I was looking for a father figure".

1993 brought small parts in three intriguing movies, two of them with an overtly feminist bent. First was The Ballad Of Little Jo, the true story of Josephine Monaghan, who pretended to be a man to get by in the Wild West. Then she was back to the Seventies and Gus Van Sant as Cowgirl Heather in Even Cowgirls Get The Blues. Here she formed part of a feminist gang who run their own ranch, the Rubber Rose, and educate poor, confused, big-thumbed Uma Thurman. And then there was Six Degrees Of Separation, where Will Smith cons his way into the home of rich couple Stockard Channing and Donald Sutherland.

1994 saw more "interesting" projects as Heather learned her craft. There was Alan Rudolph's Mrs Parker And The Vicious Circle, featuring Jennifer Jason Leigh as the sharp-tongued Dorothy Parker, as well as Heather's Drugstore Cowboy co-star, James LeGros. And LeGros, as well as Heather's Twin Peaks co-star Sheryl Lee, turned up again in Don't Do It, where three couples, who've all dated each other in the past, meet in a caf' and discuss their true feelings.

Slowly, Heather was rising through the ranks. After playing a Perfumery Saleswoman in the Jennifer Beals-starring romance Let It Be Me, she won her first starring role. This was as Olive in Terrified, a genuinely scary little number, and the first of Heather's more sexual roles. Here she played a cheating wife (perhaps a nymphomaniac) whose husband kills her lover and then himself. Traumatised by the sight, she begins to sleep around with strangers, and then discovers that someone is stalking her. Freaked-out and paranoid, Heather was again great, with the film earning comparisons to Polanski's Repulsion.

After Terrified came a few more low-budget operations, one of which would see her breakthrough. There'd be more love, too. First came Desert Winds, where Heather communicated with a man via a mystical 500-mile wind tunnel, learning to face her fear and follow her heart. It was a quiet and sweet romance, all the better for being a tad strange. And Heather once more fell for one of her co-stars, this time that dandy highwayman and wielder of fake pistols Adam Ant.

And now, at last, seven long years after the disappointing non-reaction to her performance in Drugstore Cowboy, came the turnaround. It's said that writer Jon Favreau had once taken Heather out swing-dancing. Now he had her cast in his indie sex comedy Swingers, where Favreau himself played a loser in love, taken under the wing of date-expert Vince "That's really money" Vaughn. Heather appeared towards the end, in an eye-catching role as the girl of Favreau's dreams, dancing to Go Daddy-O.

Now Heather was really on the up. There was a part in Entertaining Angels, the story of rights activist Dorothy Day, and then Nowhere, a kind of "90210 on acid" concerning the tribulations of angsty LA kids, where Heather engaged in riotous rumpo with Ryan Phillippe. Next came Two Girls And A Guy, a modern-day sex comedy where both Heather and Natasha Gregson Wagner are two-timed by Robert Downey Jr, only to react in the most unexpected way.

That same year, 1997, came Heather's real arrival. Now going out with Elias Koteas, she won the part of Rollergirl, the porn star who never takes off her skates, in PT Anderson's fabulous Boogie Nights (yet another Seventies flick). For research, Heather went to the shooting of a small porn movie, starring Ron Jeremy, then moved on with the cast to view the filming of a bigger production in Hollywood. Sadly, they were asked to leave as their presence was making it difficult for the male stars to, well, you know...

Rollergirl was not a starring role but, flitting across the screen regularly, and indulging in a comic sex scene with Mark "Dirk Diggler" Wahlberg, Heather certainly stood out. So much so that there was talk of a Boogie Nights 2, based around her character. The role also made Heather a major pin-up and sex fantasy.

Now she was up and running. Scream 2 saw her star in movie-within-a-movie Stab, based on the events in Scream 1, where she played Drew Barrymore's murder victim. Then she was young Judy Robinson in the film version of TV series Lost In Space, with her I Love You To Death co-star William Hurt playing her father, as the family zoom off into hyperspace, seeking redemption for an Earth fast running out of fossil fuels. Along the way, Heather fought with Gary Oldman's Dr Smith, and wittily undermined the sexual advances of Matt Le Blanc. The filming also saw her begin a new relationship, with director Stephen Hopkins.

Next came Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, where Heather played agent Felicity Shagwell, helping out Mike Myers' Powers once Dr Evil has transported himself back to 1969 and stolen Austin's "mojo". Heather had a whale of a time, strutting about in tiny hot-pants, riding in a yellow submarine, and engaging in repulsive sex with Myers' disgusting Fat Bastard. Weirdly, some audience members complained that Shagwell was thus being unfaithful to Austin - very odd considering what Austin himself gets up to.

After this, as if to make up for her earlier LA Story let-down, Heather appeared beside Steve Martin in Bowfinger. Here Martin played a film producer so desperate to have superstar Eddie Murphy in his movie he films him in secret and tries to build a story around the footage. Heather was Daisy, an aspiring beauty from Ohio who sleeps her way to the top, starting with the camera operator and moving up to the director. There were some who claimed the part was born of Martin's dislike for ex-partner Anne Heche, who'd left him for Ellen DeGeneres.

With this series of big hits behind her, Heather was free once more to indulge in smaller, more educative projects. Kiss And Tell was a weird little black comedy where police are investigating the murder of a performance artist whose been penetrated (to death) with a carrot. Heather played one of the former artist's bizarro buddies. Then came another starring role in Committed, an off-kilter rom-com where she was Joline, an intense young lady who, when her husband leaves her to find his "own space", goes after him, crossing the country with a couple of wacky friends, getting into all manner of scrapes.

Next was Say It Isn't So, produced by gross-out kings the Farrelly Brothers, where Heather played a useless hairdresser who starts seeing nice-guy Chris Klein. Unfortunately, her mother, played by Sally Field, doesn't think he's good enough for her, so she claims the couple are brother and sister, something Klein must disprove if he's ever to win Heather's hand. As you'd expect from a Farrellys movie, there's much humiliation and severe vileness, though it's nowhere near as hilarious as Dumb And Dumber.

Following this, Heather was off east to a new project and a new love. In Sidewalks Of New York, she played the wife of love-rat dentist Stanley Tucci, falling for Edward Burns as the lives and loves of six New Yorkers gradually intertwine. Heather also fell for Burns, the writer and director, in real life, dating him until 2000. Many thought they'd marry, but it was not to be.

After leaving Burns, Heather moved on to her next big project, the Hughes Brothers' Jack the Ripper drama, From Hell. Here she played Mary Kelly, a prostitute and possible victim who Johnny Depp's psychic cop tries to save from the killer. Though set in London, the movie was mostly shot in Prague, and it was here that Heather met her next lover, Heath Ledger, also in Prague to film A Knight's Tale. After undergoing therapy to understand her penchant for older men, it appeared that Heather was now going the other way. She'd be with Ledger into 2001, and later be seen with Cher's son Elijah, and then with Friends star Matthew Perry.

From Hell led Heather to another London-set film, Killing Me Softly, where she played a research scientist smitten by mysterious mountaineering type Joseph Fiennes. But, after marrying him, she begins to suspect he's done away with several of his past partners. The movie contained much paranoia and lots of sex, and Heather continued on her sexy way with The Guru. Here a young Indian comes to America to become the next John Travolta. But, winding up in a porn flick, he meets its star, Heather, and she teaches him everything about love, knowledge he then uses to forge a career on the talk-show circuit by pretending to be a profound master of spiritual and sexual enlightenment.

Following The Guru came Hope Springs, written by Charles Webb, author of The Graduate, a comedy romance where Colin Firth would play a British artist seeking peace in Vermont after being dumped by tempestuous Minnie Driver. Graham would be a flaky carer in an old people's home, a simple homegirl who sets out to seduce Firth, her plan going well till the devious Driver appears seeking to take Firth back. Then, four years after it was shot, came Alien Love Triangle, an episodic movie where Heather, as if to avoid her new sex symbol image, had a bald green head, black lenses and pointy ears. Courteney Cox would have fun here too, as Heather’s alien husband, trapped in a female body.

After this would come Anger Management, where Adam Sandler is a businessman sent on an anger management course run by super-aggressive instructor Jack Nicholson. Nicholson has many tricks to test Sandler's resolve, one being Graham, a vampish beauty who entices Sandler back to her place then, clad only in Red Sox underwear, loses her rag over cupcakes, revealing severe issues with weight and rage as she shrieks at Sandler through mouthfuls of chocolate. It was certainly one of this hit movie's funnier scenes. Unfortunately, it would be Graham's last hit for over five years.

. Briefly remaining with comedy, Graham would now appear in an episode of Arrested Development's first season, playing the new ethics teacher of Michael Cera, son of Jason Bateman and paid-up member of one of the world's most dysfunctional families. Cera would have a major crush of Graham, complications arising when Bateman sleeps with her and  then claims it was actually uncle Gob who did the dirty. Following this Graham would return to the big screen in Blessed, a film not unlike Rosemary's Baby, where Graham's desperate desire for a child would lead her and husband James Purefoy to a shady fertility clinic in upstate New York. Impregnation is successful, but fears grow as to what exactly is inside her womb.

Though, as said, Graham did not enjoy a box office hit throughout the mid-2000s, she did put in a series of excellent performances, usually either kooky or intense. Having provided the voice of Antonia Bayle in the videogame Everquest II (also featuring Christopher Lee), she'd return to TV in nine episodes of Scrubs, the hospital-set comedy drama starring Zach Braff as an intern at the Sacred Heart, working towards his doctorship. Graham would pop up as spacehead attending psychiatrist Molly Clock, confident, optimistic and occasionally combative, who nearly had sex with Braff before leaving for another job, and nearly had sex with him when she briefly returned.

Graham's next two movies would pretty much sum up the state of her career at this point. In Cake she'd play a devotedly single travel writer forced to take over editorship of her father's wedding magazine. Here she annoys the staff with her inappropriate views while falling for her dad's right-hand-man David Sutcliffe. It was fluffy stuff and, though Graham was charmingly quirky, it still went straight to DVD. It would be followed by Abel Ferrara's intense Mary, where director Matthew Modine would film a revisionist bible story that sees Mary Magdalene as a faithful disciple rather than a whore. This controversial movie would grab the attention of TV show host Forest Whitaker, who interviews Modine and tries to track down star Juliette Binoche who's taken her role to heart and taken off for Jerusalem. As the furore rises, Ferrara asks if Modine's film is a menace to society, or if society is a menace to the film.

Graham would appear as Whitaker's pregnant wife, on whom he's cheating with actress Marion Cotillard. Though hailed as Ferrara's best in years, Mary would fail to receive a proper release in cinemas or on DVD. It seemed that whether she was in good films or bad, whether she was intense or comedic, whether she was the star or cameo guest, Graham was on the way out.

Still she persisted and 2006 would bring some impressive performances. Her first release of the year would perhaps be the biggest disappointment. This would be Emily's Reasons Why Not, her first TV headliner, where she'd play an editor of self-help books who still finds herself without a stable relationship. Making a rule that she'll dump a guy as soon as she finds five reasons why she shouldn't go out with him, she embarks upon a series of flirtations and brief relationships, discussing her progress with her friends, both female and gay. The show was a promising comedy, similar to Sex And The City in its smart voiceover and visual flourishes, and it received a huge promotional push from ABC, with Graham's face on posters all over America, but still it was dumped after a single episode was shown, a further five being left in the can.

Graham would move on to an uncredited role in The Oh In Ohio where Parker Posey's marriage to teacher Paul Rudd would collapse due to his frustration over her never having had an orgasm. Having split, he moves on to student Mischa Barton while she, on the advice of wacky therapist Liza Minnelli, learns to pleasure herself, being set up with a starter kit by Graham's helpful sex shop clerk, Graham later warning her that she's overdoing it. More serious would be Emilio Estevez's Bobby, viewing the assassination of Robert F Kennedy through the eyes of the guests and workers at the Ambassador Hotel where he was shot. There'd be an all-star cast featuring Anthony Hopkins, Sharon Stone, Laurence Fishburne, Helen Hunt, Martin Sheen and William H Macy, as well as youngsters Shia LaBeouf, Lindsay Lohan and Elijah Wood, with Macy's hotel manager cheating on his beautician wife Stone with Graham's ambitious switchboard operator. With Bobby, Estevez would contemplate American liberalism and also, using Graham well in a powerful final sequence, would examine its painful loss.

Next up for Graham would be the screwball comedy Gray Matters, where she and Tom Cavanagh would play a brother and sister who share an apartment, a love of dancing and 1940s movies, and both fall for Bridget Moynahan. Bubbly and naive, Graham would be shocked by her own feelings, seeking advice from shrink Sissy Spacek and workmate Molly Shannon, but despite their efforts the film would still fail, Graham gaining little solace from the fact that her onscreen kiss with Moynahan would join her earlier clinch with Lisa Zane in Terrified as a big Internet hit.

There'd be little titillation for casual surfers in her next picture, the harsh Broken where she'd play a wannabe singer-songwriter from Cleveland seeking fame in Los Angeles. Picked up by drifter Jeremy Sisto, she'd fall quickly into a life of heroin, poverty and depravity, at one point having to pleasure a dealer while Sisto listens outside. Also working as a waitress in a down-at-heel diner, she'd meet a cast of oddballs, each representing elements of her past, present and future self. It was tough stuff, with Graham warring with Sisto, struggling with drugs and battling to keep a grip on her dreams. She'd then deliver another intense performance in Adrift In Manhattan where she'd split from husband William Baldwin after their 2-year-old child dies. An optometrist, she must deal with aging Dominic Chianese, a painter who's losing his sight, and also young Victor Rasuk, a shy lad who finds comfort in photography and begins to fixate on her. At first fearful that he's a stalker, she finally lets him into her life, their startling sex scene being heavily marked by grief and rage.

On top of Adrift In Manhattan, Graham's other release of 2007 would be the 1961-set road movie Have Dreams, Will Travel. Here a young Texas boy, ignored by his promiscuous mother Lara Flynn Boyle and hardworking dad (Graham's Mary co-star Matthew Modine) would befriend a recently orphaned girl taken in by his parents. With life so empty, they decide to take off across country to live with his funky, liberal and bohemian aunt and uncle, Graham and Dylan McDermott. It was the usual coming-of-age fare, with the usual portentous voiceover, far removed from Graham's next effort, the inexpressibly silly Miss Conception. This would see her return to London, where she'd be the boss of a construction firm. Disappointed that her lover doesn't want children, she's shocked to find she's inherited a condition that brings on early menopause and she has a matter of days to get pregnant. Thus, along with her buddies, she engages in a rapid series of ever-more foolish escapades, trying it on with men viewing her property, nightclubbers, even people attending a funeral, while her boyfriend has a change of heart and scurries to win her back.

There'd be more infantile nonsense in Graham's first release of 2009, Baby On Board. Here she'd be in a happy relationship with Jerry O'Connell, only for paranoia and suspicion to take over when she falls unexpectedly pregnant. She's hoping to win a big promotion and is under pressure from her boss (Lara Flynn Boyle from her recent Have Dreams, Will Travel) and her mood is worsened by a belief that O'Connell, now staying with shameless cheat John Corbett, has moved on to another woman. Thus we have a ludicrous scene in a restaurant where O'Connell and Graham have both brought other partners in an attempt to make the other jealous, Graham being unconvincingly groped by her gay doctor. She also throws up on a doorman and breaks wind in a business meeting. It was that kind of movie.

And no better would be ExTerminators where she'd meet Jennifer Coolidge and Amber Heard at anger management sessions. Accidentally killing one of their friends' abusive husband, they'd gain a reputation for ridding women of bad husbands and boyfriends, a potentially interesting premise lost in a torrent of lightweight silliness.

Thankfully, Graham's next release of 2009 would see her back at the top. This was The Hangover where a groom and three friends would visit Vegas for a stag do, their plans going seriously awry after a single night of crazy drunkenness. Waking up the next day with a tiger and chickens in their room, the three friends discover they've lost the groom and must crisscross the city to find him, following clues as to what exactly happened the evening before. One guide would be Graham who apparently married one of the guys in the midst of the chaos. She's a single mum and, she explains, only works as a stripper because it enables her to meet clients for her real job as an escort. She wasn't the ordinary tart-with-a-heart, rather being a sincere girl doing what she must before finding Mr Right. Indeed, the whole film successfully mixed sincerity with belly-laughs, so successfully that it smashed the $200 million mark at the US box office, Graham's first hit since Anger Management.

Graham would now return to London once more, this time for Boogie Woogie. An Altman-style satire of the British contemporary art scene (though it was originally written about New York), this would see art dealer Danny Huston desperately attempting to buy a Mondrian from German tycoon Christopher Lee. Also attempting to secure the work is collector Stellan Skarsgard, who's having an affair with Huston's underling Graham. Hugely ambitious, Graham is hoping to use Skarsgard's money to set up her own gallery where she'll launch an exhibition by controversial lesbian artist Jaime Winstone. Skarsgard's wife, Gillian Anderson, meanwhile, is enjoying  a secret relationship with young artist Jack Huston, Graham's boyfriend. It was flawed, but fast and reasonably entertaining. Graham would then move on to Son Of Mourning, where ad copy writer Joseph Cross would be mistaken for a messiah in a world threatened by eco-crisis, and have to choose between exploiting the situation and doing the right thing. Having earlier dated director Chris Weitz, actors Josh Lucas and Scott Speedman, and spent two years with Hamptons nightclub owner Charles Ferri, Graham would now begin a relationship with Son Of Mourning's director Yaniv Raz, at 32 seven years her junior.

Heather Graham is reaching her prime. Excellent cameos in Anger Management and The Hangover have proved her abilities in comedy, while Broken, Mary and Adrift In Manhattan have revealed an admirable intensity in serious drama. She’s worked hard, meditating twice a day to keep her stress-levels down. And she’s also, like all the others, had her share of luck. In fact, Heather is a pretty lucky girl all round.

On September 11th, 2001, she was flying into New York from the Toronto Film Festival. As she crossed the city, she saw huge plumes of smoke rising from the World Trade Centre beneath her. Her plane was one of the last to land in New York that fateful day. She was so very close.

Dominic Wills

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