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Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
  • Heather Graham returns to ‘Hangover’

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  • It was with the release of “Boogie Nights,” in 1997, that Heather Graham became everybody’s favorite porn star with a heart of old. No, not actually Graham, but her character in that film, Rollergirl.
    The blond-haired, blue-eyed actress had been around the Hollywood scene for some time already, with parts in “Drugstore Cowboy” and “Swingers,” as well as an ongoing role on the oddball TV show “Twin Peaks.” But it was “Boogie Nights” that pushed her to the next level, part of which is her current film, “The Hangover Part III.” She returns as Jade, the stripper with the heart of gold who married Ed Helms’ character in “The Hangover.” She spoke about her career last week in Las Vegas.
    Is it true that you were called a theater geek in high school?
    Oh, for sure. I was in these advance placement classes, so I was kind of nerdy, and I was in theater. And back then theater wasn’t seen as cool. I lived in the suburbs where it was only cool to be a jock or a cheerleader. So at that time I felt shy and awkward, but now I’ve really embraced my nerdiness, and I’m proud of it.
    Did you always have dreams of acting?
    Oh, yeah. I loved being in the plays at school. I felt that it was what I was good at. I was always playing games of dress-up and pretending to be in different stories with my sister and my friends. So that was a version of acting. But the first time I actually felt like I got some sort of recognition was when I was 9 or 10, and I was cast as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.”
    How did “Boogie Nights” change your life?
    Drastically! I had just done “Swingers,” and I was still auditioning, trying to get work, struggling to get jobs. I’ve always been lucky; I’ve worked as an actress since I started. But “Boogie Nights” made it so much easier. I was suddenly being offered wonderful parts. I suddenly stopped having to audition. That was amazing.
    So how did “The Hangover” happen?
    It was an audition! (laughs) My manager sent me the script, and it was really good. [Director] Todd Phillips was already well known for directing “Old School,” so it was fun to get to go in on “The Hangover.” I loved the script and the part, so it was really cool that he cast me.
    Todd recently said that he liked the way you brought a hippie quality to Jade.
    Well, I didn’t want her to be a sleazy stripper that was completely devoid of a soul. I’d taken a lot of female empowerment classes. So I thought of looking at being a stripper from a different point of view. Obviously Jade needs to make the money. She’s supporting her kid, and that’s why she’s doing it. But she’s also a kind of slightly confused person who’s trying to find a way to feel good about herself and her sexuality, and make money. So I was coming at being a stripper from more of a hippie viewpoint than just like a really dark, sad viewpoint.
    Page 2 of 2 - You weren’t in “The Hangover Part II.” How did “Part III” happen?
    It was really cool. Todd emailed me and said they were going to write me into this one. My response was, “Yay, exclamation point, exclamation point.” Of course I wanted to read the script first, and I did. But I was so happy and excited that he wanted to bring Jade back. And I was very grateful to him for giving my character a happy ending. He could have gone dark with it, but instead he gave her this sweet life that she’s always dreamed of.
    “The Hangover Part II” opens on May 23.
    Ed Symkus covers movies for More Content Now.

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