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GRAHAM, HEATHER: THE GURU

HEATHER IN ARMOUR 
What does Heather Graham wear for a press junket? Does it reveal or does it hide? Andrew L. Urban meets the star of The Guru on her promotional tour to Sydney. She confesses they’re not her clothes, but her armour. Very cool armour.


Heather Graham the movie star walked into the room in a stylish long braided jacket over smart pants, shoes that could kill at ten paces, and a smart cap. This is not what Heather Graham the private person wears. Indeed, she informs us, what she is wearing (and this is just before walking up the red carpet at the Nov. 4 2002 Sydney premiere of The Guru in which she stars with Jimi Mistry) is the work of stylists. 

“I just wear jeans and a T shirt,” she says laughing. “But when I do these junkets I have someone help me to be more ….. glamorous.” When pressed she reveals the stylists are a pair of identical twins in Los Angeles, who are “obsessed with clothes and they’re great.” The jacket is by Matthew Willamson and it’s borrowed. But maybe she will be able to keep it. Doesn’t know.

"about stardom"

The conversation isn’t really about the clothes, of course, but about stardom, and how these clothes help stars like Heather Graham to not only portray the glamour of stardom but also act as “armour against you guys [the media]” she says laughing. “I’ve got cool clothes on - instead of my normal clothes…” 

Of course the cynics would jump in here with some comment about Heather Graham wearing ANY clothes at all being notable. Unfair, since Graham has proven abilities as an actress far beyond her ‘porn star’ label or her sexy girl next door roles (like in The Guru). Her sparkling wide eyes suggest innocence, after all, and her sweet smile lacks the darkness of a faux sexual predator. In some ways, her attraction is diminished by that, although her vivacious and direct personality make up for it. 

It’s hard to imagine her as the school nerd, which she claims she was, an outcast and a deeply unhappy teenager. Yet, she was voted the most likely to succeed. “I got to be in plays and act out fantasies, but in life I did feel really lame. I was into all the plays, but that was not cool. You had to be a cheerleader or a jock – you couldn’t be a weird creative person. Guys weren’t asking me out…”

My how things have changed. 

In The Guru, Ramu Gupta (Jimi Mistry) is a young Indian dance instructor was wants to make it big in America. But the road to fame is paved with misadventures and Ramu winds up waiting at an Indian Restaurant in New York. When he successfully auditions for Dwain (Michael McKean) of Ramrod Productions to star opposite Sharonna (Heather Graham), he is unaware that he has in fact, signed to work in an adult movie. In the meantime, he is fired from his job at the restaurant, but finds himself re-hired, when he saves the day for his caterer boss and fills in for the hired spiritual guru to entertain New Age socialite Lexi (Marisa Tomei) at her birthday dinner. Lexi is smitten and Ramu enlists Sharonna’s help to enlighten him on all matters sexual.

"I just thought it was funny"

Heather Graham had few reservations about playing a porn actress in The Guru. “I just thought it was funny; the whole idea of pretending to be somebody else to get someone to love you, I liked that. I’m into all that tantric sexual healing stuff, too. That’s cool.”

She doesn’t herself have a guru, but she does yoga and transcendental mediation “and I like how this movie makes fun of those things, while embracing the good intentions behind the new age philosophies. Some people do abuse it, but a lot of the new age stuff has really great intentions.”

The Guru script made her laugh out loud – and also cry. She even cried at the London premiere. “And I could hear this person next to me sniffing…and I looked round and we were both totally crying! It was so stupid!”

While her acting career is shining, Graham has now formed a production company with a partner. “We have a lot of comedy ideas and we’d like to do something in the vein of Bridget Jones’s Diary or Sex In The City, and also some drama ideas. We’ve optioned the book, (by Valerie Franco, to be published in February 2003) The Accidental Virgin – it’s a hysterical book - and we have to find a writer to turn it into a script.”

Perhaps the most surprising answer she gave was, “well, you know, I don’t go to see many movies…” But she does like movies “with good women’s parts” as opposed to “movies about some guy beating up someone and winning.” 

Published November 14, 2002

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