Heather Graham has taken on a different kind of role from her typically bubbly onscreen persona. In “My Dead Boyfriend,” she plays a lackadaisical unemployed woman who finds out her recently deceased deadbeat boyfriend was not at all who he seemed to be.
Graham talked to CBS News about what she shares with her character and why she’s excited about the presidential election.
You play a woman who finds out that her dead boyfriend was leading a double-life. Did you ever have an experience like that?
Not really. I guess it’s sort of a feeling -- you feel like you don’t really know someone but then you learn things about them like, “Wow, I didn’t know that person,” so yeah, I can relate to that.
Mary seems really unmoored and unmotivated in the movie, but you’ve been working as an actor since you were a teenager. Was it hard for you to relate to her?
It’s weird because I am really ambitious, but there is a side of me -- opposites attract. Wouldn’t it be great to not have so much ambition? I guess there’s a part of me that finds this opposite person appealing, who’s kind of giving up in the moment, just sort of having no hope. I like how she felt like a loser and felt so unmotivated and unexcited and jaded and in the story. I do feel like she lets that go and lets herself get inspired and lets herself fall in love with someone new.
How did you find Mary as a character? Did you like her? It was really strange how nonchalant she was about her boyfriend dying and how she made comments about how inconvenient it was to be single during the holiday season.
I guess I just thought that she had a dark sense of humor and I guess I thought it was funny because I felt like she’s just one of those people who is off the beaten track, sort of, having odd quirky reactions to things and I like how weird she was, I guess.
Do you think of yourself as weird at all?
I would say that I’m eccentric.
Like your character Mary, you also write. You just started, I believe.
I just wrote a movie [“Half Magic”] -- directed and acted in it, too, and we made it and are finding a distributor right now. Hopefully it will come out early next year. It was a super-inspiring experience -- maybe one of the best I’ve ever had.
Tell me more about the movie.
It’s a sex comedy about three women who are friends. It’s kind of a female perspective on sex and dating and also sexism in the workplace. I guess as a woman I was brought up with certain ideas about sex through religion: “You’re going to go to hell if you have sex out of marriage.” So even if you don’t believe that intellectually, how does that affect you in your life when you go into dating and how does that affect you as a person?
It’s empowering to women to just sort of find a way to feel really good about your sexuality when society gives you messages to the contrary.
You were on “Twin Peaks,” but I understand you are not on the reboot. Will you still watch?
Yeah, totally. I’m curious to see what he’s going to do with it.
Are you following the presidential election?
I mean, I’m really excited about the idea of a female president. I feel like I’d like to see a female president. I also just think she seems experienced and smarter, but I think it would be cool if a little girl could grow up and see that they could one day be president. In politics, what I want to see more represented is a female point of view.
You’ve talked before about how as a feminist, you’re still happy to play “sexy” roles. Can you elaborate?
I think those roles are fun and juicy. I do think a lot of stuff is written by men and it’s different -- they’re kind of male fantasies about those characters so it’s fun to do something that I felt like was from a female point of view and how women feel about their own sexuality. But it’s fun to play out-there characters and someone outside of the norm, like someone who’s got interesting and dark story lines.
You’ve had a lot of memorable roles, including Rollergirl and Felicity Shagwell. Do you have any you’d really love to revisit?
I love working with Paul Thomas Anderson. He’s such a good director and I think recently, just writing and directing my own movies is super-inspiring. I loved it so much and felt so creatively fulfilled so I started writing another script and hopefully will produce and direct that.
How were you inspired to start writing?
I went through a breakup and I was sad and crying and I thought, you know what? This is kind of funny, so I started writing stories about me and my friends that I knew we were sad about but when I looked at it and applied a good sense of humor, seemed ridiculous. I decide to laugh at every ridiculous situation that I’ve been in or friends have been in. I wanted to make myself laugh, basically.
Are you working on any other projects?
I just got this TV show that shoots in London that David Cross is writing and directing. I’m so excited. I’m a big fan. I did a few movies this year. I did a movie with Adewale [Akinnuoye-Agbaje]. It’s called “Wetlands.” I did another movie with Robert Patrick called “The Last Rampage.” I got to wear a wig and glasses and look pretty unrecognizable -- that was fun. I did some episodes of “Flaked” and a few episodes of “Angie Tribeca.”
“My Dead Boyfriend” is now out in theaters.