Reel Movie Interview: Heather Graham On Judy Moody and Starring with James Franco in Cherry

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Heather Graham is an established actor and sex symbol in Hollywood, but she's returned to her youth to star in the kids flick Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, alongside newcomer Jordana Beatty.

The actress plays the lovable Aunt Opal - with a fiery sense of adventure and a love of art. She sat down with Movie Fanatic to talk about her role on the summer kids flick.

"I like that she had the ability to see the beauty in everything and I do try to do that in my regular life, which I do with varying degrees of success." Heather told us about her latest role. "Certain days I can do it amazingly, other days, not so much."

She also talks about the Aunt Opal in her own life -- in a very surprising place. "It's funny actually because this new guy that I just started dating (Current TV-host Jason Silva), his mom -- I went to his house -- and she is just completely like, everything is an art project and everything is art, so here's somebody who's a lot like that."

Heather Graham as Aunt Opal in Judy Moody

She also took some time to talk about some of her new projects in development, including a brand new movie about the porn industry, starring James Franco and Dev Patel, as well as a film she's hoping to get made, about something she's passionate about. 

Check out the rest of our interview when you 'continue reading' to find out more about these two upcoming films.

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer hits theater this Friday, June 10, 2011.

Seems like you have quite the fun side, so why so long since you’ve done a family comedy?

 I don’t know.  I think it’s really so fun – it was so fun to do this film and it was so fun to go to work everyday.  It’s just so fun to do a film where there was nothing dark happening in it, it was all just so happy.  It’s about how to have the best summer ever, so every morning I was like, ‘wow, I get to go to work and it’s so great.’

 What did you like most about your character?

 I like that wherever she goes she wants to have fun and it’s kind of like enjoying where you are in that moment and making things that are normal into works of art.  Like take the bench and turn it into this or take the garbage can lid and make it something.  I like that she had the ability to see the beauty in everything and I do try to do that in my regular life, which I do with varying degrees of success.  Certain days I can do it amazingly, other days not so much.

 Are you artistic in any way?

 I mean I wish I could do more visual art and things like that, but no.

Did you ever have an Aunt Opal?

There’s people that in my life that I know that are really inspirational like that.  It’s funny actually because this new guy that I just started dating, his mom – I went to his house – and she is just completely like everything is an art project and everything is art, so here’s somebody who’s a lot like that.

With the Judy Moody books being a series, have they started talking making another one?

Yeah, they’ve talked about maybe doing another one.

 What was it like working on set with all the kids?

When you’re around someone so exicted, you kind of remember that part of you that’s so excited to be doing what you’re doing and it’s so fun to be around Jordana and be around the other kids because everything is more fun.

 What was your take on Opal’s wardrobe?

I loved the wardrobe so much and when I went into the fittings, I was just so excited, I wanted to own all those clothes.  So I was begging Sarah, ‘please let me keep these clothes,’ and she did.  So I’ve been wearing them since we wrapped.

What was it like shooting in Los Angeles?

It was fun to be at home and she [Jordana] was really excited about American girl.  And we went trick-o-treating together and one day we went in her dressing room and made it all jack-o-lanterns because they had never had a Halloween with the pumpkins.  So we made it a surprise thing.

I heard there was a prank on the set?

I took a picture of [Jordana] and she said something like, ‘I hope that doesn’t end up on YouTube’ or ‘Don’t sell it online.’  And I was like, she thinks I’m going to sell her picture online?  So I told some people and we were laughing about it.  So then one of the guys working on the movie made up this whole fake ad, like it was on Ebay with a picture of Jordana like we were selling it and how much we were selling it for.   She came up behind me while I had the picture up and thought it was real.  She got pretty upset and then we all felt bad about it because she got really upset. 

You have a pretty eclectic list of films now.  Is this by accident or design?

Well I think it’s just that you read things and you enjoy the material and see something that’s really fun about it and my manager has her opinions about some things, but I think I just try to do what’s fun and what I think could be good.

Was there ever any concern that you’d be confined to one particular role?

I guess if you’re another person looking at a career, you could think that way, but just as myself, I just try to take the best opportunities I can get.  I wish that there were more female-centric films being made, so I think it’s not necessarily me so much as the whole system.  It’s such a breakthrough that a film like Bridesmaids even gets made, so there’s not a lot of stories for women told by women in a very real, true voice.

Anything coming up?

I did a film called The Flying Machine that’s a stop-motion animation, live-action 3D film and I’m going to do a movie called Cherry with James Franco and Dev Patel and another film called Fortune with Catherine O’Hara and Kim Bassinger.

Is Cherry about a porn star?

It’s about that world, yeah.  I play a lesbian director.

What character haven’t you played that you want to play?

I want to make a movie about the Triangle Fire in 1911 and kind of like female-empowerment.  This factory that caught on fire when all the immigrants came to New York and when women were working in sewing factories and it was a sweat shop where they would lock them in and they burned or some of them were jumping out the window.  And then there was this politician who fought to change all the laws at that time and a lot of the laws are still in place today.  Kind of like an epic romance and it’s just a really cool story.  I’d like to do a classic romantic comedy and a female sex comedy, now that they’re getting a little more balls to make those.  I feel like, if [Bridesmaids] makes money than maybe they’ll be more open.

Is this just an idea for the Triangle Fire?

No there’s a script.


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