Heather Graham Is Reclaiming Her Voice in 'Half Magic'

Heather Graham Is Reclaiming Her Voice in 'Half Magic'

The famed actress talks her new movie 'Half Magic' and telling her #MeToo story.

The famed actress talks her new movie 'Half Magic' and telling her #MeToo story.

Text: Allyson Shiffman

Heather Graham is the sort of person who warns you before she drives through a tunnel (“If it cuts out, I’ll call you right back!”). She’s the sort of person who will call you right back to “say one last thing,” even though your call dropped after you had finished your interview. She’s also the sort of person who will turn years of unsettling bullshit (or, as she puts it, “everything that has ever upset me”) into something funny.

And that’s precisely what she’s done with Half Magic, a film that solidifies Graham as a triple threat writer/director/actress, not to mention a comedy powerhouse. The film follows an aspiring screenwriter (Graham) who, after growing increasingly frustrated by the disinterest in her female-driven scripts, bands together with two other fed-up women, played by Brooklyn 99’s Stephanie Beatriz and The Office’s Angela Kinsey) to “take back” their sexuality, agency and power (with the help of a Wiccan ceremony, of course).

Unsurprisingly, Graham’s hilarious feminist manifesto, which she began writing seven years ago in the wake of a breakup, stems directly from personal experience, from her Catholic upbringing to the rampant Hollywood sexism right up to the difficulty to get women-centric stories told. “I had spent 8-10 years trying to get movies about women that I had developed made, and I could not get them made,” she says. “So I made this movie about women and a woman in Hollywood that had a sexual harasser boss, because I thought, ‘This is what I had experienced.’”

It’s no surprise that Graham, who has made a career of playing doe-eyed sexpots (most famously in Boogie Nights, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and The Hangover), has her fair share of disturbing #MeToo tales to tell. She was among the countless actresses who came out against Harvey Weinstein, saying that the disgraced mogul had implied that if she slept with him, she could have her pick from a pile of scripts. “When Ashley Judd’s story came out, I remember thinking, ‘Wow,’” says Graham. “I was at a dinner and someone told me about it and I said, ‘Oh, he harassed me too.’ And they said, ‘Really? You should tell the press.’” Telling her story publicly had never even occurred to Graham, but after tweeting her support to Judd, she eventually came forward. “All of these women started coming out and I came out and it really felt like we women had each other’s backs, finally, for once. We were standing together as a group, saying ‘We’re 50% of the population, this behavior is not okay.’ We just felt as women that we finally had a voice.”

The fact that Half Magic is coming out in the midst of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements is sheer coincidence – a perfect, women-fronted storm. “I wanted to make a feminist movie that was empowering to women, but I wanted to make it a comedy that was sexy and not just hit-you-over-the-head or angry,” Graham says. “But now that all this stuff is coming out I feel so relieved, because I can really talk about why I made this and I don’t have to feel worried that people are going to find me to be like too much of an angry feminist [Laughs].”

So if this film draws from experience, does that mean that Graham’s abhorrent onscreen boss and boyfriend (played by Chris D’Elia), whose choice lines include “I’m not saying I’m against women’s rights, I’m just saying there’s no market for their films,” is based on a real person? “He’s a mixture of a guy that I dated who’s a director and a director that I worked that that I didn’t date and a bunch of male actors that I worked with,” she says. “That guy exists, for sure.”

UP NEXT

Go Backstage With Virginia Gardner at Ferragamo's FW18 Show