Henley's first screen credit was for her contributions to the screenplay of "True Stories" (1986), co-written with David Byrne and her companion Stephen Tobolowsky. That same year, her first solo screenplay, "Nobody's Fool" was produced. Directed by Evelyn Purcell, "Nobody's Fool" was a quirky romantic comedy which depicted the growing relationship between an outcast waitress (Roseanna Arquette) and a drifter (Eric Roberts) in a small Southern town. Also in 1986, Bruce Beresford helmed the feature version of "Crimes of the Heart," starring Sissy Spacek, Diane Keaton and Jessica Lange. Henley received an Oscar nod for her screenplay. She went on to adapt another of her plays as "Miss Firecracker" (1989), about a local beauty pageant. Starring in the latter was Holly Hunter who had a long association with the playwright, having appeared in stage productions of "Crimes of the Heart," "The Wake of Jamey Foster," "The Lucky Spot" and "The Miss Firecracker Contest." Henley's one screen acting role was as a Bible pusher in Jonathan Demme's "Swing Shift" (1984).