Graham spoke to CNN about the role and much more, saying at one point, she even considered going to law school for the part because she wanted people to drop their image of the sexy blonde she has often portrayed on screen in films like “Boogie Nights” and “The Hangover.”
“[Growing up,”] I was in all these brainiac classes and I used to just pray people not just see me as a brainy girl. But then I got all these sexy roles,” Graham said.
She said while playing sultry can be fun, she’s relishing her latest projects.
To prepare for the “Wander,” she worked with a new acting coach who helped her create a life story for her character off the page.
“I created this map with that story, I just created all these memories, which is really fun to do,” she said. “You create memories of your character from a young child. So, for me and this character is a lot about my friendship with Aaron’s character. I created so many memories of us and our friends together and you’re supposed to close your eyes and think through the different [scenarios] and remember what you were wearing and you make up things that aren’t in the script and it’s powerful.”
The movie filmed pre-Covid, a year and a half ago in New Mexico during the “brutally hot” summer. Decades after her acting debut (and yet somehow ageless), Graham said she still gets excited and a little nervous each time she’s on set.
“Everyone’s always insecure. I mean, even if you read interviews with Meryl Streep, she’ll say like I’m terrified before any jobs start,” she said.
She’s also starring in “The Stand” a CBS All Access limited series based on Stephen King’s book, and “Oracle,” a psychological thriller in which she plays a woman who becomes a caretaker on a haunted plantation.
Looking back on her career, from “License to Drive” to “Swingers” and “Austin Powers,” Graham said she is “so grateful that I get to work in this amazing business.”
“I’m definitely grateful that I was in ‘Boogie Nights’ and that I wrote and directed a movie called ‘Half Magic.’ That was really exciting just to pick up an idea and then watch it get made. So, I definitely want to do more of that. I hope to direct again because I kind of feel like that’s the next step, to be behind the camera and tell a story that matters to you.”
And she’s not done evolving.
“I still do feel like I’m growing,” she says. “The more I do it, the more I’m always learning something new. And I feel like I’m getting a new sense of confidence because even though I’ve been doing it a long time, I still feel like I’m getting better.”