David Boreanaz: Finally, The First Bite
Now in his fifth season as a vampire, first on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and currently on "Angel," David Boreanaz is finally spreading his wings to play a regular guy on the big screen in the thriller Valentine.
It seems that whenever you see studio back lots depicted in movies, there are always gladiators sitting around on coffee breaks with Martian invaders in the background. In real life, it's never quite that colorful, except perhaps here on the Paramount lot where The WB's drama "Angel" is shot. As we speak, there's a Shaq-sized, green-faced ghoul in the buffet line behind me, and I'm pretty sure the guy behind him is one of the undead. In front of me, and completely unfazed by this Monster Mash spectacle, is David Boreanaz, who plays the show's 245-year-old now-he's-good, now-he's-evil title vampire. After we get our snacks, Boreanaz leads me onto the show's set where we settle into an overstuffed couch and I resolve to find out what else the actor takes for granted.
"So how many times has Angel gotten busy on this sofa?" I begin.
"None," says Boreanaz with a sigh. "He's not allowed to."
"He must have bluer balls than Frasier," I suggest.
"Vampires are kind of dead," he theorizes, "so I don't think he would feel the blue balls." With that he sinks his fangs into a cookie.
Boreanaz had played only small parts in small movies like Aspen Extreme and Best of the Best 2 when he was spotted by a talent manager who helped him land the role of Angel, the brooding, tough-guy vampire who becomes romantically involved with Sarah Michelle Gellar on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." The show became such a mammoth hit for The WB that the network made the risky move of creating the spin-off "Angel." Without teen sensation Gellar it was no sure thing that the series would fly, but it did. Overlapping with the "Buffy"-"Angel" period was Boreanaz's two-year marriage to writer Ingrid Quinn, which recently ended in divorce. It's understandable that throughout this stressful time Boreanaz didn't embark on a feature film career, but it was surprising that he didn't squeeze even a small role into one of his hiatuses.
"Finding projects that speak to me and that fit into my 'Angel' schedule is always a problem," says Boreanaz. "Plus, I like to take some time off because this schedule is so demanding. Being cautious with my energy level and going back to my roots and hanging out with my family and friends, that's what's important to me."
So Boreanaz's first step to the big screen is only occurring now, with the romantic thriller Valentine, in which he plays a San Francisco sports writer whose girlfriend (Marley Shelton) is one of a handful of young women targeted to be offed on Valentines Day by someone they wronged in their past. When I wonder aloud why the movie isn't called I Know What You Did Last February, Boreanaz laughs and says, "When I first read it, I said, 'This is a shit script,' but then I sat down with the director [Urban Legend's Jamie Blanks] and asked him, 'What's going to make this different from a psycho slasher horror film?' and I was really impressed with his passion for old films. He compared the project to Hitchcock thrillers, and that made me think it was going to be a little more than just a horror flick."
Even if it doesn't turn out to be the next Vertigo, Boreanaz relished the chance to play a regular, non-bloodsucking person and wear something besides black for a change.
"You'll actually see me in bright colors," he says. "A little green, some white, a little khaki. It's all good."
At this point an "Angel" PA comes over to Boreanaz to ask him to shoot a quick scene with our ghoul friend from the lunch wagon and the actor doffs his shirt--regular kung fu classes keep his bod in camera-ready shape--and heads for his mark. After he has successfully dodged the ghoul's swinging chain, I whisper to his stunt double, Mike Massa, who's standing nearby, "What's the biggest challenge of doubling for David Boreanaz?"
"Looking as good as him," says Massa. "I actually went to a class on how to be a stud."
Boreanaz overhears this remark and says, "It's more like how to be a loser."
It's well-known in the Industry that Boreanaz is one of the few "hottie" actors who doesn't take his pin-up status too seriously--he'd rather work on his truck than work the ladies at the Skybar any day. It's also known that he's grateful for the jobs he's landed. "You run into people on shows who say, 'I'm so miserable," Boreanaz tells me. "My reaction is, 'Why? You're working. You gotta look at that as a gift.'"
Later, as Boreanaz is walking me off the set, weaving through more ghouls and monsters, I ask him if he has any nightmare audition stories to share from the old days of anonymity. "There was an audition for a commercial where I had to put a piece of gum in a girl's mouth," he recounts. "Well, this older woman, who I'd really fallen for and who had just broken up with me the day before, happened to be at the audition, too, and she said, 'Let's audition together.' I agreed."
"Let me guess: the plan was to win her back with your gum insertion technique?"
"Exactly," he says. "And it totally backfired on me. I went down in flames, man. I was so nervous I couldn't even insert the gum in my mouth, let alone hers."
Now there's a horror story.
Dennis Hensley interviewed Jordana Brewster for the December/January issue of Movieline.