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Dead Again

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Summer blockbuster producers, take note: David Boreanaz could very well be your next big action hero. "I'm like a gold mine," jokes the actor, "an undiscovered gold mine." After all, slaying demons and engaging in death-defying feats was part of his daily grind as the tortured title vampire on the cult series Angel. "I would come in and learn a fight sequence and kick some ass and jump off a burning building," he says. "It was amazing the amount of work we did in those years."

These days Boreanaz is still bringing small-screen bad guys to justice, but as a decidedly different character: intuitive FBI agent Seeley Booth on the Fox hit Bones. This season the actor, who also serves as a producer on the show, is stepping behind the camera to direct a few episodes. "I think if you're involved in a television show, especially an hourlong show, you're so readily available to that kind of outlet as far as taking advantage of stepping in the shoes of a director," he says. "If you were just to say, 'I'm on a television series and I'm gonna ride it out for five years and just coast,' I don't think that's challenging yourself on the inside. Directing is something I've always enjoyed: setting shots, composing shots, maintaining a sense of freedom on a set." Talkative and charming, Boreanaz recently riffed on getting his start, getting on stage, and learning lessons.

On his early days in Los Angeles:

"I lived downtown with my sister. I lived on a couch, and I had two suits I had gotten for graduation. I put one of those on every morning, and I'd drive into Los Angeles and I'd go to a studio, and I'd have my suit on and my briefcase full of résumés, and I'd walk through the front gate like I belonged. I walked on the set of Cheers; I walked on the set of a Francis Ford Coppola film. I just kept walking and talking to these people and made it more or less [about] getting insight into the business and trying to pass out my résumé to the right people. I lived vicariously through this fantasy world I created, which kind of ran out pretty fast, 'cause I had to pay the bills."

On getting his first agent and job:

"I had to go in and do a scene. I was studying at the Gardner Stages on Sunset, and you'd do tons of monologues and scene study work. So I picked this girl to help me do the scene. It was working great in class, and then we went to do it in the agency and she was like a different person — she was all flamboyant and weird. I just did my thing and got out, and I said, 'This is not gonna go down well. That was the worst experience ever.' The next hour, they called me in and they wanted to represent me. Lo and behold, I had an agent. They gave me an audition, and I went out for Married With Children and I booked the job."

On Bones and on making career decisions:

"Gail Berman, who was head of Fox at the time, called me up and offered me the role. I was very flattered. How many times does the head of a network call you up to offer you a role on a show? I was weighing another project at the time at ABC. I met with them over at ABC, jumped through some hoops, and in the long run just found out that here Fox is offering me this great show and this great opportunity and ABC is saying to me, 'Well, you should test for this role.' I said, 'I'm not going to test for the role. I'm being offered a role here at Fox, which is just as good of a project, if not better.' That's where I made my decision. First for the material itself, and then the closing aspect was, 'Here it's being offered to you.' I think I made the right decision, because [the ABC show] never made it out of pilot format."

On working on Bones scenes with acting coach Ivana Chubbuck and co-star Emily Deschanel:

"We call it Team Bones, because we really take the time on the weekends to say, 'We need to work two hours on a Saturday on this week's scenes.' It's been an eye-opening experience with each episode and each scene that we do. And what [works is] the fact that the two of us are in the same room, working on these characters together, working on the chemistry, working on the give-and-take moments, working on the vulnerability aspects of it, working on 'What [are] our lives?' and how that works for us. [Ivana's] approach to the material rang true for both of us, and it rings really true for me."

On appearing Off-Broadway in Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell:

"It was an amazing experience with these talented actors. Getting up there and doing these long Spalding Gray monologues was terrifying. I remember the first time I went up there, standing up on stage and hitting the mike. I was a mess. I was like, 'I can't do this.' But I think the fear level kind of fuels you."

On what he has learned from the business:

"You really have to understand that it's a wicked, harsh business. You have to be tough, and you also have to be giving. I think there are not enough people that give in the industry. And it can be really easy. It can be sitting down and listening to a P.A. It can be having a conversation about the simple things in life. There's not enough of that today; there's not enough of that on a set. And it should be looked at as more of an experience of how you can come home and say, 'You know what? I had a great day at work today because of this.' You have to maintain a strong sense of 'Okay, what is this really all about?' Because in the long run, it always ends. And when it does end, you're always back to square one."

Bio Brief

Grew up in Philadelphia, where his father was a weathercaster

Studied film at Ithaca College. "When I first moved out here, I was in tune with getting a job behind the camera. I thought I was going to be, like, the best director that ever existed. That was my mindset at 21 years old."

Spent three seasons playing Angel on Buffy the Vampire Slayer before landing his own spinoff

Other credits include the indie films These Girls and The Hard Easy and the upcoming Our Lady of Victory

Write to the author at sarahkuhn@backstage.com.

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