LAS VEGAS — After missing one “Hangover,” Heather Graham is back in the “pack.”
Graham was disappointed that Jade, the luminous and lighthearted stripper she played in 2009's “The Hangover,” was not brought back for the second installment, and she was not the only one. Graham said she heard from a lot of fans who were hoping to see a relationship develop between her and Stu, the high-strung dentist played by Ed Helms.
“I thought that was a sweet love story, and then a lot of people came up afterward and were like, ‘Oh, I thought you and Stu should have ended up together,'” Graham said during a press day for “The Hangover Part III” at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. “For example, Billy Crystal — I ended up running into him — and he was like, “Why didn't you and Stu end up together?' I thought, ‘This is so cool. Billy Crystal cares.'”
But now, after skipping one film after “The Wolfpack” made a side-trip into disastrous morning afters in Thailand, Graham returns for the closing chapter of Todd Phillips' comic trilogy, which also stars Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong and John Goodman. But even when Phillips asked Graham to come back for the grand finale, he was guarded about the specifics of the latest adventure.
“You know, they were really top secret about the script,” Graham said. “He wrote me an email and said, ‘I wrote you into it.' And then he just sent my pages, so I didn't really know what was going on in the story. Even with the plot — we did a press junket earlier, and we weren't allowed to say anything. Now, I guess, we're allowed to talk about it.”
In the last big blowout, Phil (Cooper), Stu (Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) are taking Alan (Galifianakis) to a rehab center when they get waylaid at gunpoint by Marshall (Goodman), a crime boss with a major bone to pick with Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), who has escaped from a Thai prison. Forced to hunt down Chow, The Wolfpack find themselves back in familiar territory — amid the never-dimming lights of the Las Vegas Strip.
And that is where Graham comes in, and she was happy to revisit Jade after missing out on 2011's “Part II.”
“I mean, right after the first one, Todd ... said something about being in the second one, but I think it was the story and the plot — obviously, they went to Thailand, and Stu was marrying someone from there,” she said.
Graham, who at 43 barely looks older than she did in her breakout role in 1997's “Boogie Nights,” has worked in film and television for 25 years. Her first big-screen credit was opposite Corey Feldman and Corey Haim in “License to Drive,” and Graham has worked steadily since. In addition to “The Hangover Part III,” she appears in “At Any Price” a drama from “Chop Shop” director Ramin Bahrani with Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid, and is currently filming episodes of Showtime's “Californication.” Graham also recently completed work on her first screenplay.
“My dream is, I just wrote a script that I want to direct, and I have these investors and hopefully it's going to happen later this summer. That would be amazing,” Graham said. “It's a comedy about sex, and when you sort of grow up with a sense of shame about your sexuality, how you learn to enjoy it and feel good about it.”
And now, Graham feels good about her return to the “Hangover” saga. She missed the character, but as she said, things worked out for Jade, even without Stu.
“I guess I had sort of hoped that Stu and I would have more of a romance, and I'm happy that my (Jade's) life went in a good direction,” Graham said. “So I think it was nice of Todd to give Jade a good ending.”
Travel and accommodations provided by Warner Bros.