Heather Graham: Facts You Didn't Know And Why You Don't See Her Acting Much Anymore

With more than 100 screen credits under her belt, it's fair to say that Heather Graham is no novice when it comes to Hollywood. After making her mark in teen comedies in the late 1980s, Graham earned early acclaim for her performance in director Gus Van Sant's "Drugstore Cowboy." Then came a pivotal recurring role on TV mind-twister "Twin Peaks," a delightful turn in indie comedy "Swingers" (which launched the careers of stars Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau), and playing a roller-skating porn star in "Boogie Nights." Her dramatic chops now established, Graham ventured back into comedy, opposite Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy in "Bowfinger," as swinging spy Felicity Shagwell in "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," and a wildly memorable bit part in "The Hangover."


Graham is also committed to philanthropy. In addition to being a public advocate for Children International, she's also worked extensively with the Cambodian Children's Fund over the years. In the early 2020s, Graham stepped back from acting for a bit, only to return with a vengeance with multiple projects, some already released and others coming soon.

There's a lot about this often-underrated actor that even her most die-hard fans may not realize. Keep reading to find out facts you didn't know about Heather Graham and why you don't see her acting much anymore.

She always pictured herself as an actor

Ever since she was a little girl, Heather Graham has been focused on becoming an actor. "I was obsessed," she told The Guardian in 1999. "I was: 'If I don't make something of myself, I am nothing.' I just had not a lot of confidence and self-esteem, but for some reason I had the idea that I could be an actress." When looking back at her childhood, Graham's aspirations were far more apparent than she may have realized at the time. "I used to dress up in my mom's old clothes and play with these kids from the neighborhood and make up stories: I would pretend that we were all vampires," she said in a 2016 Guardian interview.


When she was a teenager, watching Meryl Streep in "Sophie's Choice" inspired her to get serious about following her dreams, and she began auditioning for high school plays. "I was like a drama nerd, I was in a lot of plays," she told Cinema.com.

After graduating from high school, Graham moved to L.A. to study drama at UCLA, but dropped out after two years in order to pursue an acting career. She quickly got an agent and began landing roles — albeit playing a teenager, which she did, both convincingly and successfully in a "Growing Pains" guest spot and assorted teen comedies. She was on her way.

Her very first movie starred the two Coreys

In 1988, Heather Graham landed the biggest break of her career to that point when she was cast in a leading role in "License to Drive." In the teen comedy, she starred alongside Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, successful child actors known collectively as the two Coreys. Interviewed by The Guardian in 1999, Graham described the plot of the film as "two guys steal their parents' car and go on a crazy night and I'm, like, the girl at school who one guy has a crush on and I get really drunk and pass out." 


Starring in her first film earned her a modest $60,000 — hardly a fortune, but enough to allow her to move out of her parents' home and get a place of her own. That experience also paved the way for an even more pivotal role, playing doomed addict Nadine in the harrowing drama "Drugstore Cowboy," a substantial departure from the high-school hijinks of her previous film. "I thought, wow, this is so great — I'm conquering this town," she said.

Hitting it big so early, however, proved to be a learning experience when her next few projects were a string of forgettable flops. Looking back, she blames her agents and management team at the time for talking her into picking projects in which the paychecks were better than the scripts. "I let them talk me into movies that I didn't believe in," she admitted. 


The job she'd have if she weren't an actor

Had Heather Graham not decided to pursue acting, she's pretty definite about what she thinks she'd be doing otherwise. "I love psychology!" she told Us Weekly. "If I wasn't an actress, I think I would be a good therapist." Graham explained her fascination with psychology in an interview with New Beauty, confirming that she would be able to make a contribution in that field. "I could see a world where I would be a therapist."


However, there are some other career paths she could have potentially pursued, apart from psychology. "I think I had a fantasy about being a doctor at one point," she said, while admitting she also harbored an aspiration to be an author. "I love reading fiction, so I can also see myself wanting to write books."

Graham also admitted she wouldn't be averse to hosting her own TV travel show, particularly if there were cuisine involved. "And, look, could I have my own lifestyle/travel show where I travel the world eating food? That is also something that sounds fun!" she told the AU Review.

She gets a lot of sleep

There are many celebrities who are known to get by with minimal sleep; fashion designer/movie director Tom Ford, for example, reportedly sleeps three hours a night, while Martha Stewart has been known to sleep less than four. It's safe to say that Heather Graham is not among them; in fact, she's made it widely known that she's a firm believer in getting plenty of sleep. The more the better. "I adore sleeping," she told Us Weekly. "I could easily sleep 12-plus hours a night."


In fact, she told The Guardian in 2016 it wasn't unusual for her to get between nine and 12 hours of shut-eye each night — and yes, she's aware of how unusual others may find that. "When I tell people how much I sleep sometimes, they are horrified."

Despite the naysayers, Graham is 100% certain that she functions at her best when she's had such an extreme amount of sleep. "I feel like I need it," she told Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford during a 2016 visit to "Today." In addition to feeling rested, sleeping for so many hours also tended to improve her mood. "I feel so happy," Graham said of her demeanor upon waking from her Rip Van Winkle-length sleeping sessions. "I feel excited!"

Heather Graham made a conscious decision to not have children

Heather Graham has dated a lot of famous men over the years. Among her boyfriends have been Edward Burns, James Woods, Benicio Del Toro, Matthew Perry, Jon Favreau, Matt Dillon, her "Twin Peaks" co-star Kyle MacLachlan, and more. None of those men, however, had what it took to entice her to walk down the aisle; Graham has never married. 


As for not getting married and starting a family, Graham has zero regrets. "I think we all have different paths," Graham told People, explaining that her path was one in which there would be no children. However, Graham was also quick to point out that she also wasn't ruling out the possibility of children, and was open to whatever the universe were to throw at her. If a child — or children — entered her life at some point, she'd embrace the experience with enthusiasm. "But at the moment, not having kids, I do feel free."

"I don't feel that I'm missing anything," she added.

Her creepy encounter with Harvey Weinstein

As an actor who came up through the business in the late 1980s and early '90s, Heather Graham has had her #MeToo moments. In fact, she is among the many to have a run-in with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, currently imprisoned for a rape conviction, and accused of sexual misconduct by a who's who of Hollywood. 


In 2017, Graham wrote an essay that was published in Variety, detailing her experience with Weinstein. She wrote about being called into a meeting where Weinstein offered her several movies — and the opportunity to sleep with him, informing Graham that he and his wife had an arrangement. For Graham, the quid-pro-quo implication was clear: Sex in exchange for a movie role. When Weinstein called her back for a follow-up meeting, she was nervous enough to bring a friend along. When the friend called her to bail, she wound up canceling and never encountered Weinstein again. "While I still do feel guilty for not speaking up all those years ago, I'm glad for this moment of reckoning," she wrote. "To the countless other women who have experienced the gray areas: I believe you."


"I think hopefully for women everywhere, we feel braver to come forward with our stories," Graham said during a 2017 appearance on "Today" (via Twitter). "And we feel we can stand up for ourselves, and we see that a predator is getting some kind of justice."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

A director once told her she was a 'waste' of time

While Heather Graham was able to sidestep Harvey Weinstein's advances, that's not the only degree of misogyny she's experienced as a woman in Hollywood. In a 2023 interview with The Chicago Tribune, Graham was asked to recall the worst moment she'd experienced during her Hollywood career.


"I was around 20 or 21 and I had been in two movies, but I wasn't super confident and I wasn't totally established yet." Based on those two movies, she was hired for a film that was based on a play. The director, feeling she didn't have the theater experience required, insisted she come to his home to rehearse. "That's a little creepy," she recalled. "He didn't hit on me, but it was a little weird looking back on it."

The director also insisted that Graham rehearse the entire play at the acting class he ran. She did, and it didn't go great. According to Graham, she felt she was honing in on the character, but hadn't quite found it. She begged to try a scene again. "I know I would have done it better if I'd had another chance," she said. "And he was like, 'We're not going to waste the time of these people in their class to see you do that again.' It was really hurtful. ... And then he fired me, basically. He basically said, 'You suck,' you know?"


Her home is her happy place

Given how much Heather Graham enjoys sleeping, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise to learn that she's something of a homebody. As she told Architectural Digest, she splits her time between her house in Los Angeles and her apartment in Manhattan, both of which were created in collaboration with her designer, Gillian Lefkowitz.


In both homes, Graham is emphatic about having living spaces that are grounding and comforting. That's particularly true when it comes to the artwork she chooses to host in her homes; suffice it to say, "edgy" and "disconcerting" are words that aren't likely to be used when describing her taste in art. "I believe your home space should put you in a good, happy place," Graham said. "I don't want to look at art that makes me feel disturbed or upset. I want to come home and be relaxed and blissful. I want to put positive energy around myself and my home."

Graham is also a fan of quirky objets d'art populating her home, such as the vintage rice cooker that Lefkowitz found for her. "It's made of wood that's painted red, and I'm using it as a side table," Graham said.


She's passionate about projects that leave women feeling empowered

While it may seem difficult to believe, Heather Graham's acting career has spanned five decades, from the 1980s to the 2020s. During that time, she's seen Hollywood go through some major changes in how female roles are written, portrayed, and perceived in movies. That change, in fact, has poured down from the top, as women continue to take senior roles in studios and networks, with a female perspective becoming reflected in the kind of projects that emerge. 


"It's cool that more women are heading up companies and that we're greenlighting projects that have more female subject matter," Graham said in an interview with New Beauty. "I really want to make things that are empowering to women. ... I feel strongly that what we watch does matter. If you're watching stuff where it's only always about men, and women don't get to do that much, it's disempowering on another level."

That said, Graham has experienced more than her fair share of sexism in Hollywood and hasn't been afraid to discuss it. "I always felt like I was a supporting character in a man's story," she told People, describing a significant number of her acting roles.

The reason she prefers Indies to blockbusters

Heather Graham has appeared in a vast array of films and TV shows, yet a spin through her IMDb credits indicates a preponderance of low-budget indie flicks, and very few big-budget blockbusters; among the latter was the ill-fated 1998 film version of the classic sci-fi TV hit "Lost in Space." 


Graham explained why she continued to gravitate toward smaller, independent films. "Indies let a lot more edgier, raw stuff be shown in those kinds of movies. They'll take on topics that big movie studios won't," she told Cinema.com while promoting indie "Sidewalks of New York," which was written and directed by her then-boyfriend Edward Burns.

More than 20 years after that interview, in a 2023 sit-down with Yahoo! Entertainment, Graham admitted that after spending years ping-ponging between edgier indies and more standard Hollywood fare, she still preferred indies (via YouTube). "I feel lucky I've been able to work and make money in a hard business for my whole life," Graham told Salon. "I'm grateful to work with interesting people and it's fun."


She wrote and directed a movie

In 2018, Heather Graham fulfilled a long-held dream with the release of "Half Magic." Not only was she the movie's star, she wrote the screenplay and also made her debut as a director. The plot is woman-centered, with Graham playing a character named Honey who joins her friends (Angela Kinsey of "The Office" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" star Stephanie Beatriz) who set out to overcome the insecurities that prevent them from getting what they want, both in general and in the bedroom.


"If you look at it, the amount of roles available for men and the amount available for women, it's just a massive difference," Graham said in an interview with HuffPost. "There's just so many more opportunities for men, and it's just kind of a Hollywood thing where they believe men can headline movies but women can't. There are a few, small number of women that they think might be able to, [but] there's a total sexism in Hollywood. Why do you think there are not more movies made with female leads?"