To some of us, she’ll always be Roller Girl, or maybe Felicity Shagwell, but whoever she’s playing, we like her. A perpetually fresh-faced, youthful looking blonde with the delicate bone structure, a flair for both comedy and pathos, and apparently no problem at all handling sexual material and the occasional nude scene, Heather Graham remains a fascinating combination of girl-next-door beauty, vulnerability and off-kilter humor.
Born Irish-Catholic in Milwaukee in 1970, Heather was the daughter of devoutly religious parents, a children’s book author and an FBI agent. The family moved around a lot, but ultimately wound up in Agoura, California — a mere 29 miles from Hollywood. Deciding to pursue a career in acting after graduating from the local high school, young Heather soon landed parts in a few films, including an important role in Gus Van Sant’s indie-classic, “Drugstore Cowboy.” Still, we are told, her career was not going quite as she wanted it to, so she eventually did as countless other frustrated Los Angeles creative types do and wound up taking classes at UCLA, where she met actor James Woods.
That meeting apparently led both to her becoming the top-billed female in the caper film “Diggstown,” and to her briefly dating the much older Woods. In any case, her career was definitely taking off. She was cast as Annie Blackburn, a love interest for Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), in six episodes of “Twin Peaks,” and from thereafter worked regularly in television and independent films, including portraying the leading beautiful baby in the 1996 mega-sleeper “Swingers.”
Things got even more interesting the following year when Heather got the pivotal role of “Roller Girl” in Paul Thomas Anderson’s porn-industry epic, “Boogie Nights.” One of the things that made that role “interesting” was that Heather’s religious parents were strictly opposed to onscreen nudity and sex — and the part of a free-spirited porn starlet kind of demanded a fair amount of both. The role is supposed to have led to her being estranged from her parents indefinitely. She was anything but estranged from critics or male viewers, however, and the movie remains a milestone for independent cinema.
During the late 1990s, Heather was definitely “hot” in at least two senses of the word, and so along came the part of Shagalicious Felicity Shagwell in “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” as did a major role in the acclaimed Steve Martin/Eddie Murphy comedy, “Bowfinger.” Heather was hitting the comedy jackpot and, as proof, she got to host a 1999 episode of “Saturday Night Live.” In 2001, however, she ventured into big-budget horror opposite Johnny Depp with a tragic turn as prostitute Mary Kelly in “From Hell.”
Heather nevertheless kept up her comedy chops and in 2004 and played psychiatrist Molly Clock on nine episodes of the NBC comedy, “Scrubs.” That role led to a starring role in her own sitcom, "Emily's Reasons Why Not." Before airing, the show received a great deal of promotion and ballyhoo. However, ratings for the first episode were dismal and reviews (as well as the opinions of network brass) weren’t that much better. The show was axed immediately. Failure is, nevertheless, the name of the game in show business and Heather has returned to her roots in mostly higher end independent films. Most recently, she starred in “Broken” with Jeremy Sisto, and an award-winning multi-story drama “Adrift in Manhattan.”
As for her personal life, Heather has been linked to any number of famous and semi-famous men over the years, most recently New York club owner Charles Ferri. Also, word on the Internet is that “Adrift in Manhattan” includes an especially powerful sex scene featuring Heather and costar Victor Rasuk. We hope her parents have adjusted by now.
Heather Graham in "Broken"
Heather on the Web
An online database of Heather Graham’s career.
Photos, bio, and news, as well as Heather’s latest TV appearances.
More about Heather.
Photos and links to Heather’s movies, plus more on her upcoming films.
The Sweetest Pieces of Irish Lass
Asylum.com included Heather in its tribute to Irish beauties.
On sex scenes:
“….If you don't get it right it becomes too giggly. Bodies aren't always beautiful and sometimes what is beautiful is not necessarily a bottom going up and down.”
On “me time”:
"I can't wait to turn off on the weekends. I don't have to like anything for anyone, or be in a good mood, or fix my hair. If I want to be in bed for two whole days, I can."
On first impressions:
“Whenever I meet people who seem really sweet and unassuming, I kind of wonder about them.”