Taking on a new role
HEATHER GRAHAM TELLS US HOW SHE FINALLY WARMED UP TO THE CONCEPT OF HER NEW SERIES BLISS
The initial reaction by Heather Graham to the concept of the series Bliss was anything but blissful. She thought the idea of a man trying to juggle two families sounded so sexist she got mad that someone — David Cross of Arrested Development fame — was going to make such a programme.
“Then when I started reading the script, I thought David Cross’ style of writing is so smart and so funny.
The way he presents his characters is really complicated and interesting,” Graham says. “The female roles are both interesting as well.
“I loved that my character is this flawed soul. I loved that she can’t speak in public and has this debilitating lack of confidence and that’s fun to play. But, she also grows.”
Needless to say, Graham signed on to the comedy series that debuted in England and is now available to viewers through streaming service Britbox.
Travel writer Andrew
(Stephen Mangan) uses his job to hide that he has two families. Neither knows the existence of the other, but keeping that secret gets more difficult every day. Graham plays Kim, who has a teenage daughter with Andrew, while Jo Harley portrays Denise, the mother of Andrew’s teenage son.
Although Graham appeared in a 2004 episode of Arrested Development, she didn’t meet Cross at that time. She has been a fan of his work for years and was excited when he offered her the chance to be in Bliss. Cross had a wealth of work by Graham on which to base his decision, ranging from the creepy Twin Peaks to the whacky Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
Between movie appearances, Graham has guest-starred on numerous TV series and starred in her own short-lived Emily’s Reasons Why Not on ABC. There’s no word whether a second batch of Bliss will be made but if that happens, Graham would want there to be only a handful of episodes, as in the initial season.
“I think creatively it is cool to do only six because you are not having to do so many episodes, (which) makes it more difficult to make the quality as good,” Graham says. “There are a lot of creative things happening on TV right now and it’s exciting because people aren’t thinking they have to churn out like 22 or 24 episodes.”
Graham’s speaking about this limited quantity both as an actor and a writer.
The Milwaukee native wrote, directed and starred in the recent feature film Half Magic, which took a deep look at female empowerment through friendship and work. She found it empowering to write something and then see it be released during the #Metoo movement, when women were speaking out.
While Graham would not automatically reject an offer to be on a television series that featured 20-plus episodes a year, her interests lean more toward creating her own projects. She has just optioned a book and wrote two original scripts — Chosen Family and Business of Medicine — that she would love to turn into TV shows.
The interest in writing is a recent development in Graham’s life. What prompted her was what looked to her like a lack of good roles for women. Much of what she sees on-screen and in scripts is nothing that interests her, so she decided to write about things she would like to see. Until one of her own projects gets a green light, Graham will continue to go for the wide diversity of roles she has played in her career.
“I am so grateful that I get to keep working with cool people,” Graham says. “You don’t want to be always playing the same role. Sometimes you can think that it is all a master plan, but most of the time I am just happy I got a job that was good enough I wanted to do it.”
Bliss comes via Britbox, a streaming subscription on-demand service owned by BBC Studios and ITV plc that focuses primarily on British television series. The service launched in March 2017 and currently offers 4,600 hours of programming.
David Cross plays Graham’s husband in the show.
The Hangover actress played Dr. Molly Clock on the TV show Scrubs (2001-10).