Actress Heather Burns is known for having supporting roles in popular films like “You've Got Mail” (1998), “Miss Congeniality” (2000) and “Two Weeks Notice” (2002). The latter two films starred Sandra Bullock and Burns was reunited with Bullock for the sequel “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous” (2005). Commenting about working with Bullock, Burns said, “She's just a dream boss, you know, and a friend. She's un-intimidating and giving and has integrity. It's nice to work with someone like that and it's nice to know that people that good and with the amount of integrity that she has, has the success that she does. It doesn't always happen that way. It's nice to see the good guy win.”
Breaking into the small screen on “One Life to Live” (1996-1997), Burns has worked in several short lived series, including “Nearly Your” (1999), “The Beat” (2000), “The $treet” (2000), “Twenty Good Years” (2006) and “The Unusuals” (2009) and portrayed Leah in HBO's “Bored to Death” (5 episodes, 2009). Burns has also guest starred in “Law & Order” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” Her more recent and upcoming film credits include “Bewitched” (2005), “The Groomsmen” (2006), “Watching the Detectives” (2007), “Ashes” (2010, also a co-writer), “Weakness” (2010) and “What's Your Number” (2011).
Burns is engaged to her high school sweetheart and fellow actor Ajay Naidu (born on February 12, 1972).
Childhood and Family:
Heather Burns was born on April 7, 1975, in Chicago, Illinois, to James B. Burns, a retired professional basketball player and U.S. attorney, and Marty, a speech pathologist. She is the oldest of three siblings. Heather graduated from Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Illinois, and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She also attended the renowned The Atlantic Theatre Company Acting School and The Second City in Chicago and spent a summer at the Yale School of Drama. She once thought of following in the footsteps of her father to become a lawyer, but instead decided to pursue an acting career.
Bored to Death
Heather Burns kicked off a career on television in 1996 by appearing in a few episodes of the ABC soap opera “One Life to Live.” She then portrayed Lana Madison in an episode of “Law & Order” called “Carrier” (1998) and appeared in the short films “99 Threadwaxing” and “Number One” (both also 1998) before gaining her first break with the role of Christina Plutzker, one of Meg Ryan's three shop assistants, on Nora Ephron's hit romantic comedy “You've Got Mail” (1998), which starred Tom Hanks and Ryan. A remake of the Ernst Lubitsch 1940 film “The Shop Around the Corner,” the film was a financial victory. With a budget of $65 million, it grossed over $115 million in the domestic market and $135 million internationally.
After “You've Got Mail,” Burns costarred with Meredith Salenger and Ever Carradine in the TV film “Chicks” (1999), which was directed by James Widdoes and written by Carol Leifer. She won her first substantial role in a TV series on the short lived sitcom “Nearly Yours” (1999), opposite Rob Morrow. Burns went on to play a supporting role in the Jeff Winner directed film “You Are Here” (2000), where she acted with her boyfriend Ajay Naidu. She returned to TV on the UPN drama “The Beat” (2000), playing Beatrice Felsen. Starring Derek Cecil, Mark Ruffalo, Poppy Montgomery, Tom Noonan, Lea DeLaria and Luis Guzman, the series was canceled after six episodes. She also played Joanne, the wife of salesman Freddie Sacker (played by Rick Hoffman), in several episodes of the Fox short lived series “The $treet” (2000-2001).
The actress enjoyed better luck on the big screen when she was cast as Cheryl Frasier (Miss Rhode Island) on the Sandra Bullock successful vehicle “Miss Congeniality” (2000), for director Donald Petrie. The comedy opened at No. 5 in North American with an opening weekend gross of nearly $14 million, and went on to gross over $106 million domestically. It grossed more than $212 million worldwide, well surpassing its $45 million budget. Two years later, she gave fine performance as Meryl Brooks in “Two Weeks Notice” (2002), another successful box office film that starred Sandra Bullock and Huge Grant. The film was directed by Marc Lawrence.
After starring in the TV film “With You in Spirit” (ABC, 2003), Burns supported Clara Bellar and Jon Budinoff in the Tribeca Film Festival screened “Kill the Poor” (2003), which was directed by Alan Taylor and scripted by Daniel Handler and based on a novel by Joel Rose. She then portrayed Ramona in Irving Schwartz's “Perception” (2005), starring Piper Perabo, was reunited with director/writer Nora Ephron on “Bewitched” (2005), based on the classic television series of the same name, and supported Danny Aiello and Jane Curtin in the Kevin Jordan movie “Brooklyn Lobster” (2005). Also in 2005, she reprised her role of Cheryl Frasier in the installment “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous,” which was directed by John Pasquin. The film was panned by many critics but brought in over $101 million at the box office against its budget of $60 million.
In 2006, Burns appeared as Claire Quinn in an episode of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” called “Dollhouse” and was memorable for her portrayal of Jules on “The Groomsmen,” a comedy film written, directed, produced by and starring Edward Burns. The film was a minor box office hit and earned mixed reviews from critics. The same year, she also starred with Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow and Jake Sandvig on the short lived NBC sitcom “Twenty Good Years,” where she played Stella. Burns then supported Cillian Murphy and Lucy Liu in writer/director Paul Soter's film “Watching the Detectives,” which screened at the Tribeca Film Festival on May 1, 2007, starred in the short “Claire” (2008), appeared in the Sundance premiered “Choke” (2008), which was directed and written by Clark Gregg, and teamed up with Bruce Altman, J.T. Arbogast and Mikki Baloy in the eight minute length film “Puppy Love” (2008).
In 2009, Burns played Hannah in Daryl Wein's romantic film “Breaking Upwards.” She also portrayed police official Bridget Demopolis in the ABC drama “The Unusuals” episodes “The Circle Line,” “42” and “Crime Slut,” and joined the cast of the HBO comedy series “Bored to Death,” which was created by Jonathan Ames.
Burns has completed filming the film “Ashes” (2010), directed by and starring her fiancé Ajay Naidu. She also co-wrote the script with Naidu and Sidney Feldman. Burns will support Beth Grant, Graham Greene and Barry Corbin in “Valley of the Sun” (2010), a film from director Stokes McIntyre, and play Julia in Michael Melamedoff's “Weakness” (2010). In addition, she is set to play a role in the upcoming comedy film “What's Your Number” (2011), which will star Chris Evan and Anna Faris.
Also a stage actress, Burns has appeared in several plays, including “All Things Considered” (directed by Davids Pittu), “Writer's Block, Lobby Hero” (helmed by Woody Allen), “Lobby Hero” (directed by Marc Brokaw) and “This is our Youth” (directed by Lawrence Boswell). In 2008, she portrayed Emily in “The Marriage of Bette and Boo” at New York's Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre.