The other day I happened to be looking through a bookstore and I came across the June 1998 issue of a magazine called Femme Fatales that had Heather on the cover. The interview inside is actually one of the best on her that I have ever read. FF is a little known magazine - hell, I only bought it because Heather made the cover - but to my surprise it was actually a really good read, and not just for the Heather interview. So I strongly urge anyone and everyone to pick up a copy or two and see for yourselves.

Heather Graham: Space Cadet
By Douglas Eby

America has finally discovered Heather Graham. So what took you so long? I mean, her film career spans an entire decade! Interested in acting since age nine, an adolescent Graham earned some minor parts on sitcoms. She eventually landed a juicier role in STUDENT EXCHANGE (1987), a TV movie starring Lisa Hartman, Lindsay Wagner, and Hertz Rent-A-Car cutup O.J. Simpson. Making her movie debut in LICENSE TO DRIVE (1988), which reviewers totalled, Graham shot an uncredited appearance in the same year's TWINS. Her performance in DRUGSTORE COWBOY (1989), as a drug-addled teen drifter, was lauded by critics. During the 1990 season, Graham played Annie Blackburn, a nun who kicked her habit, in the TWIN PEAKS television series; she reprised her role in the 1992 prequel.

Resisting blockbusters, Graham preferred to be challenged by more intimate movies - THE BALLAD OF LITTLE JO, SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION, TOUGHGUY - which appealed to critics but lacked the pyrotechnical panache and earsplitting noise to attract audiences. My personal fave is SWINGERS (1996): a dork (Jon Favreau) trivializes Graham as a "bunny", but she's the only one to recognize his business card logo from Groucho Marx's quiz show, You Bet Your Life (1950-1961).

But, last year, Graham waded into the mainstream. As "Rollergirl" in last year's porn and pop art confection BOOGIE NIGHTS, Graham's - ahem - "visibility" contributed to the film's R-rating. Indeed, last winter's SCREAM 2 and this month's LOST IN SPACE were geared to collect serious box office revenue. So if she's not selling out to commercial Hollywood, what's inherently written into a role that attracts her attention? "Well, I guess it's just when you read something that appeals to you," Graham shrugs. "The roles in these latest films appealed to me, so when I read them, I get more excited about it: usually, that translates into you getting those jobs more then the ones you don't really like as much."

A $70 million spin-off of the melancholic TV series (1965-1968) that's beloved by dissident sci-fi addicts, LOST IN SPACE's cast includes Mimi Rogers, Gary Oldman, William Hurt, Matt LeBlanc, Lacey Chabert, and Jack Johnson. Graham inherited her "Judy Robinson" role from series regular Marta Kristen. The movie was filmed entirely at England's Shepperton Studios, marking Graham's first pilgrimage to the United Kingdom: "And we were there for a long time - for six months - so it was really wild. I was living in London, so I got to see the city a little bit and I went to the country in the area of Devon one weekend. The art director had this great country house, and they had sheep right outside and it was right near the coast."

Talking to Graham, I'm confident she just may squeeze an extra dimension into physician/scientist Judy, whose small screen incarnation was either squealing for rescue or blowing kisses at hunky Major Don West. I read Graham a magazine excerpt that described her film character as "wearing spacesuits, shooting off guns and yelling at Dr. Zachary Smith (Gary Oldman)." Oops. "Oh, right," chortles Graham. "Actually, I don't get to yell at Oldman anymore becuase of the interests of reshaping the scene to work around Matt LeBlanc's sitcom schedule. Anyway, this is the first job I've really done where I got to play science fiction, what with the technology and all that stuff. It was cool playing a doctor because I'm really fascinated by that."

Written and produced by Akiva Goldman, LOST IN SPACE - set in the not-too- distant future - delegates the Robinson brood as the first family to colonize outer space. Graham notes her character "gets to create these cryo-sleep tubes that freeze us for ten years. Cryonics is very interesting but wouldn't be my career choice. I'd be more interested in general medicine than in that. And cryonics is an area that no one has figured out yet. In college, I was more of an English major. But, for the movie, they had a lot of experts and they gave me books to read on it. I didn't really have to get that involved in scientific theory or vocabulary. But it's cool, just thinking of the power of the human mind to create."

Flipping through some productions stills, Graham says, "It was great working with experienced actors like Gary Oldman and William Hurt, and I've admired their work for so long. And I really liked the director (Stephen Hopkins, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5, PREDATOR 2): he was a very interesting person and had cool ideas. And it was fun working with little kids like Jack (Johnson) who's ten and Lacey (Chabert), who's 14. They play Will and Penny Robinson. Kids just go and do it. It's amazing how good some little kids are, you wonder how they got this good."

Fortunately, the modified Judy Robinson was "really fun because Matt LeBlanc and I are sort of unattached, and stuck in space together. And my reactions to him are completely unpredictable, and I just give him a really hard time and constantly attack him. So it was fun to go against the whole romantic thing where the woman's like 'so in love with him because he's the pilot': I get to be just like 'Oh, get over yourself'.

LOST IN SPACE reportedly tallied more than 650 computer-generated visual effects, nearly twice the amount developed for JURASSIC PARK. Graham, unacquainted with CGI, admits the film's most challenging undertaking was "imagining those things that weren't there. You had to mentally visualize certain special effects scenes for yourself, because these things wouldn't be optically added-in until much later in post-production.

But the director did a lot to try to help us in that situation. There's this character in the film - named Blarp, I think - who sometimes wouldn't be there, and we'd have to pretend to be holding him. The director would have puppeteers come in and we would do the action once with the puppets, so we would see sort of what the animal would look like. It was cool. Being in London on the set, and having all these amazing effects, was so different than just shooting in L.A. with a bunch of people who are sort of friends and really liked each other - which is what BOOGIE NIGHTS was like."

A regression to '70s self-indulgence, chronicling social latitudes that ushered in the advent of hardcore video, BOOGIE NIGHTS was comparatively "easy stuff, because you could imagine it all more easily than thinking you're flying through space. So it was really fun working on it." The ensemble cast of characters includes Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg), Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), actress Amber Waves (Julianne Moore), Buck (Don Cheadle), and Little Bill (William H. Macy). Graham's character ocasionally wore nothing more than a smile and a pair of roller skates. It was a paradoxical role for an actress who has steered clear of nudity: "Sometimes I watch movies, and nudity seems not necessary - it's sort of stuck in there and slightly exploitive. I don't think it's wrong, but I don't particularly respond to it because I feel like I'm being manipulated into watching something that's supposed to be titillating - but isn't part of the story at all.

"So when I read a script, I look a little more carefully - when there's nudity - to see if I'll be comfortable doing it. And then I have to look at the director a little more carefully and think how he's going to be, because I'm going to feel vulnerable in the situation: will he make me feel safe?" Screening the film's final cut at the Toronto Film Festival, Graham was "definitely pleased with the way BOOGIE NIGHTS turned out."

Among her more provocative directors was TWIN PEAKS' David Lynch. Though her role in the series was relatively small, Graham describes her work rapport with Lynch as "very cool. I was a huge fan of the show, I just loved it, so it was really exciting being on the series. Lynch was a nice person as well as an interesting director. He makes you feel really welcome. A lot of directors are not as friendly to the actors as he is."

Graham approved the SCREAM 2 script because she's an admirer of the 1996 precursor: "Just watching the first SCREAM movie... I thought it was very clever and sort of turned horror movies on their head, and it was very funny. I really liked Drew Barrymore: that sequence with her was so scary! I thought it would be fun to be in the sequel, and be in this whole interesting thing which they were keeping so secret. As you know by now, I have a small part, sort of like a little cameo that I worked on for two days. Wes Craven is a very nice and easygoing person, and fun to be around. We would shoot things and something would happen and he'd be like 'Just kidding!' afterwards. So you didn't take things too seriously, and he had a sense of humor about it."

Asked if a spiritual therapy may have governed her professional development, Graham instantly identifies herself as a practitioner of transcendral meditation: "I'm not really religious but feel I have spirituality. I meditatate twice a day for 20 minutes. I've been doing it for six years, so I've gotten into the habit of finding the time for it. Sometimes it's hard. But it definitely pays off for me. It's kind of subtle, it takes a while to notice the difference. But it has a great effect.

"Heather Graham: Space Cadet (cont.)"