Interview: Heather Graham on My Dead Boyfriend and Scary Movies

Actress Heather Graham talks to us about her role in the new dark comedy My Dead Boyfriend

The lovely Heather Graham has grown up in the public eye, having come of age in such teen-fodder fare as TV’s Growing Pains and the Corey Haim/Corey Feldman vehicle License to Drive. Almost immediately after these high-profile appearances, she was dragged into more serious, edgy arthouse adult fare like Gus Van Sant’s harrowing Drugstore Cowboy, the second season of Twin Peaks (and David Lynch’s spin-off film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me), Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights and The Hughes Brothers’ woefully underrated From Hell. And while these handful of films cited are certainly highlights of her resume, they are just a few credits in a massive and massively diverse three decades in front of the lens, entertaining us and bringing multi-dimensional characters to vivid life.

Now, Graham is starring in actor-turned-director Anthony Edwards‘ black comedy My Dead Boyfriend, a film that sees her carting around the remains of her ex-lover and inadvertently going a journey of self discovery. The movie also stars Katherine Moennig (Ray Donovan) and Griffin Dunne (After Hours, An American Werewolf in London) and hits theaters and VOD this Friday, November 4th.

We had the chance to chat with Graham yesterday — on Halloween, appropriately — to discuss her craft, her dabbling in directing and her favorite horror movie of all time. This might surprise you, but despite what I do, the Heather Graham movie I spin most in my house is not From Hell or Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, rather it’s Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

Heather Graham: Oh my God. That’s hilarious! But why?

CS: I have three little boys. They love the movie and I swear, they have watched it at least once a month for the past 2 years. I know every damn line!

Graham: Adorable. Usually it’s like, little girls who like that movie but that’s good that some little boys can like it too.

CS: They are very comfortable in their masculinity.

Graham: Good for them. I loved doing that movie. Once I was on vacation and this little girl came up to me and said “can I have your autograph”? I thought that was so cute because I don’t think any kid has ever asked me for my autograph. Most of my movies aren’t for little kids, you know…

CS: This is true. And this begs the question: what is a Heather Graham role? I used to think I knew. But you’ve changed so much. At this stage in your career, do you know? How do you cherry pick your parts?

Graham: I think it just boils down to the script and the cast, who I get to work with and also, honestly, I want to have fun and I want to make sure I’ll have fun making the movie. Recently, I just got into writing and directing so that was really exciting because it was a new way for me to say what it is I wanted to say. That was inspiring. The movie is called Half Magic and I hope I get to make more.

CS: In My Dead Boyfriend, you end up joining a rock band and pound a mean bass. Do you play in real life?

Graham: I wish. When I was a kid I took piano and guitar and tried to sing. But I realized that I don’t think I have the natural talent for that. I did take bass lessons for the movie and I think I can play a little. Maybe (laughs). But some people have that sort of talent naturally. I really don’t think I do. But I do love music, that’s for sure.

CS: Don’t you think that performing, that acting is in a way musical?

Graham: Hmmmm… well, music is expression and it makes a huge difference when you put it over a scene. But is acting musical? I’m not sure. I think acting is just a different language you use to communicate. Some people write or paint or make movies or do music…

CS: My Dead Boyfriend is based on a book. Did you get a long leash to create your own version of Mary or is she chained to the text?

Graham: I did read the book and it was interesting. I liked the ironic, jaded personality Mary had in the book and it’s a very New York book, very East Village. So I tried to be pretty faithful to the way Mary was written.

CS: Let’s talk about your My Dead Boyfriend director. Does having a veteran actor like Anthony Edwards actually directing you make a difference? I can imagine that he must have had great empathy and understanding when it came to handling his actors.

Graham: Yeah, he sure does. You know, I had never met him before this and I thought he was going to be just like his character in ER. He’s not at all, of course. He’s really smart and a great guy. Actually, I think that’s funny. Here I am an actor and I’m expecting someone to be exactly like the role they play on TV (laughs).

CS: To me, Anthony Edwards will always be Gilbert in Revenge of the Nerds.

Graham: Yeah, for me he’s Goose in Top Gun. We were actually shooting this movie on Halloween and some people dressed up as Goose and came to the set that day. It was cute.

CS: Now, we’re conducting this interview on Halloween, in fact. Do you have any plans for tonight?

Graham: Well, I have a Wonder Woman costume and I think I’m going to just walk around New York and maybe see the parade. I kind of just like walking the streets and see what people are wearing and to see how creative they get. Once, I saw this guy dressed as Elliott from E.T. with a hoodie and a little basket with E.T. in it. That was impressive.

CS: What’s the scariest movie you’ve ever seen?

Graham: The scariest? Well, I vividly remember the first time I saw Wes Craven’s original A Nightmare on Elm Street. This is back in 1984. I was a teenager.  A young teenager. And my God, it was so scary. It was because I was a kid and when you watch something as a kid you’re an easy mark. When you watch stuff as an adult you’re detached. I wish there was a cooler movie that I could think of but off the top of my head, that’s the one that really did me in.

My Dead Boyfriend opens Friday from Momentum Pictures and Orion Releasing.


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