These days, putting Heather Graham in your film is about as risky as buying U.S. Savings Bonds. But back in the mid-’90s before Graham had become a star, director Lisa Krueger (”Manny & Lo”) fought Miramax to cast the little-known actress as her lead in the film ”Committed” (opening wide Friday). ”I read the script before ‘Boogie Nights’ had even come out,” says Graham. ”So I was really surprised I would even be considered for the starring role, because that just wasn’t happening to me at the time.”
Krueger may have wanted Graham to play Jolene — a neurotic newlywed who stalks her estranged husband in hopes of saving her marriage — but Graham’s relative obscurity held little appeal for the powers at the studio. ”I badgered Miramax for months [with no luck],” the 30-year-old actress says of her fight for the role. ”I think they’re a little Mafia-ish. They like you to already be in the Miramax family, so if you’re in the family you’re in the movie, but if you’re not, you’re out.”
Though Krueger also joined the battle, ultimately it was the success of Graham’s Roller Girl porn star in ”Boogie Nights” that changed Miramax’s mind. But then her skyrocketing fame caused a new complication: The studio put the film’s release on hold. Though ”Committed” was shot almost two years ago, it’s just now reaching theaters. ”What I heard was they wanted to let ‘Austin Powers’ and ‘Bowfinger’ come out first and let Heather become a bigger story,” says her ”Committed” costar Luke Wilson. Graham herself isn’t commenting — so for now it’s up to audiences to say whether the Weinsteins have made yet one more savvy Hollywood shuffle.