IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Heather Graham Talks 'The Hangover Part III'

Thursday, 23 May 2013 12:59 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Heather Graham Talks 'The Hangover Part III'

When the Wolfpack returns to theaters for the third and final time on May 23rd with The Hangover Part III, they will get a chance to reunite with several characters not seen since the original film. One of those characters is actress Heather Graham’s stripper turned housewife Jade, as well as her baby (now toddler) Tyler – A.K.A. Carlos. 

After being sidelined for The Hangover Part II, Graham returns to help the Wolfpack on their journey one more time in The Hangover Part III, which is being advertised as the conclusion to the epic series that has become the most successful comedy franchise of all time. Graham, who began he career as a teenager, has been appearing in films for almost 25-years and first gained attention for her role in the comedy License to Drive opposite Corey Feldman and the late Corey Haim. She would go on to appear in such films as Drugstore Cowboy, the Twin Peaks prequel – Fire Walk with Me, Six Degrees of Separation, and Swingers, before landing her breakout role as Rollergirl in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights. But it was playing Felicity Shagwell in the sequel Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me that made Graham a household name. Since then the actress has appeared a string of successful films including Bowfinger, Anger Management, From Hell, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, and of course – The Hangover

In The Hangover Part III, once again directed by Todd Philips, the Wolfpack comes to the aid of one of their own in the wake of a family tragedy when a personal crisis causes his friends and family to intervene in Alan’s (Zach Galifanakis) life. Doug (Justin Bartha), Phil (Bradley Cooper), and Stu (Ed Helms) agree to take Alan to a wellness home for help but the road trip goes terribly wrong when a ghost from their past causes Doug to be kidnapped … and that ghost is named Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong)! Now, Phil, Stu, and Alan have to go on a manhunt to find the notorious Mr. Chow, who has just broken out of a Bangkok prison, in order to save Doug’s life. When the Wolfpack’s journey leads them back the where it all began … Las Vegas, they seek the help of Stu’s ex-wife, Jade, who is now remarried and no longer a stripper. Jade gives the boys important information that helps them track down Chow, and Alan has a chance to reconnect with Tyler (formally-Carlos), who has grown quite a bit since the last time he saw him. Throughout the course of the film, the three friends become closer than ever and Alan learns a lesson about life, love, friendship, and the meaning of true happiness. 

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with the beautiful Heather Graham about The Hangover Part III while she was in Las Vegas (of course) promoting the film. The accomplished actress discussed the new movie, reuniting with the cast and crew for the final chapter, how Jade has changed since the first film, her complicated history with Stu, working with the same child actor that player Tyler/Carlos in the original movie, what Helms, Cooper, and Galifanakis are like off the set, collaborating with director Todd Philips, improvisation, if jade is actually an honorary member of the Wolfpack, not returning for The Hangover Part II, and what comedic legend is secretly a huge fan of The Hangover franchise. 

Here is what the lovely Ms. Graham had to say:

IAR: To begin with, after not appearing in The Hangover Part II, how did it feel coming back for the third and final installment and reuniting with director Todd Philips and the rest of the cast?

Heather Graham: I was so excited. I was really excited that Todd put me in the first movie and I was so excited that he brought me back for this one. When he told me I was going to be in it, I was really, really happy and I was super curious to see what was going to happen to Jade.

Can you talk a little bit about how Jade has changed since the first film? 

Graham: Yeah, there is pretty much a night and day different. I think it was Jade’s dream to fall in love with a doctor and have this fun, great, conservative life. I feel really happy that my little Tyler/Carlos son is in a better situation than the first movie. It’s actually the same actor playing Tyler/Carlos in The Hangover Part III who played the baby in the first film. Isn’t that crazy? They cast the same little boy who played the baby in the original movie as my son in this film.

Wow, that’s really cool. What was it like for you to see him again and how much he’s grown in the four or five years since you made the first film?

Graham: It’s so fun. It’s weird because when you do a movie, there is an aspect of a family vibe and you just become friends with everybody. His mom showed up with photos from the first movie that we had all taken together, and it was just super sweet to see him again.

Both Jade and Stu have moved on with their lives in separate directions but when they come back together in the new movie, they are very friendly towards each other and there is no animosity between them. Was that a direction that you, Ed Helms, and Todd talked about or was it written that way in the script?

Graham: I put it into my character that I felt like when he came in to my life in the first film, that I really fell in love with him and that my life then just turned a corner. Where I was like, you know what, he showed me this kind of love that I wanted so I was going to change my life completely. I think meeting those guys and falling in love with Stu was my inspiration for changing the direction of my life.

Can you talk specifically about reuniting with Bradley, Zach, and Ed? What was it like reuniting with them on this film and how was it similar or different than when you made the original movie?

Graham: Well, it’s different because everyone is so much more successful. Then on the other hand everyone’s just the same person so it was just the same fun vibe, but everyone is now much more successful.

When you were shooting the first film, did you ever imagine it would have the impact that it’s had and would go on to become the best selling comedy film of all time?

Graham: I thought it could be successful because Todd had done Old School and that movie was successful. But to reach this crazy level of success is it’s pretty fun. It’s pretty cool to be a part of it.

Zach, Ed, and Bradley have such a great on-screen chemistry, what are they like together off set? 

Graham: I feel it’s grown from just everyone liking each other to really like brotherly love.

As an actress, you’ve worked with some great filmmakers in your career such as Gus Van Sant, Paul Thomas Anderson, and David Lynch, just to name a few. So what is Todd Philips like to work with as a director?

Graham: Todd loves films. He’s really like a film nerd. He knows every film, and he studies film. He’s obsessed with film and he is just a great lover of film. He knows exactly what he wants and he also has a vision of what he wants. He’s into collaboration, but at the end of the day he runs the show.

Is there a lot of improvisation on his sets? Does he give you room to do your own takes and get in what you want, or does he want you to stick to the script, do a couple of takes and then move on?

Graham: Definitely when you are working with a lot of comedians they’re making stuff up, but at the end of the day, Todd decides what to leave in or take out. You can say something like, oh, can I change that here? Or, what about this or that? So he is open to it, but at the same point it’s got to stay within his story and his vision.

In this film, your character helps the guys along on their journey and gives them some important information but doesn’t really have a chance to be funny herself. Do you wish you had some funnier scenes to be involved in?

Graham: No, I felt like it was fun if my character got to help them like she did in the first film. I do feel like I helped them in their journey to achieve their goal, and it’s fun to be in an honorary Wolfpack member.

Do you feel like Jade is an honorary member of the Wolfpack?

Graham: I don’t know? I was doing interviews today and some people were like, what’s it like to be part of the Wolfpack? I’m like, ok, great, sure. I’ll be a part of the Wolfpack!

I think your role in the movie really bridges this film to the original, did you feel that way as well?

Graham: It’s funny because even though I didn’t shoot for a lot of days, I felt like we already had a basis for this relationship. So it was just really great to be reunited.

Finally, did you wish you could have been in the second film too, or are you glad that you character gets a chance to bookend the franchise by only appearing in the first and final installments?

Graham: I’m a romantic so I wish Stu and Jade would’ve gotten married. That would’ve been so sweet. It’s cool because actually a lot of people came up to us and were like, “Why didn’t Stu and Jade end up together?” I met Billy Crystal once and he was like, “I just don’t understand why Stu and Jade weren’t together.” I was like, well, thanks! That’s cool that you care! A lot of people cared about it and that’s pretty cool.

Wow! So Billy Crystal is a Hangover fan? That’s really funny!

Graham: Yeah, he is! He was like, “Why didn’t Stu and Jade get married in the second film? I really thought that was going to happen!”

The Hangover Part III opens in theaters on May 23rd.

To read our exclusive interview with Justin Bartha about The Hangover Part III, please click here

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