Boreanaz views his life and career as a "work in progress"
By John Crook
David Boreanaz may be best known to most TV viewers as the soulful vampire of Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but there's nothing remotely cutthroat about the 30-year-old actor.
In fact, the publicity-shy Boreanaz, who grew up in Philadelphia, seems completely unruffled about speculation that his WB Network series -- which returns for a third season on Monday, Sept. 24 -- will suffer this season after being separated from Buffy, which has moved to the United Paramount Network following a high-stakes bidding war.
"Angel and Buffy have been on kind of divergent paths for a long time now," he says. "Each show stands on its own and has its own identity. I'm aware some people already have written off Angel, but we have very good people on our show and I'm very proud of the work we do. Beyond that, there's no point in worrying."
If that sounds like a remarkably mature attitude for a young TV star, Boreanaz has seen a lot of "flavors of the month" fall out of favor during his tenure at The WB Network. In fact, when his first appearances as the Byronic bloodsucker on Buffy sent fans into overdrive, many mistook Boreanaz for another disposable pretty boy. After all, he was "discovered" while walking his dog, right?
What those early profiles overlooked, however, was that the actor was completely serious about his craft, and had been ever since he became fired up at age 7 by seeing Yul Brynner in a touring production of The King and Ias a child. He had immersed himself in theater work at Ithaca College in New York, where he earned a degree before moving to Los Angeles.
While he became a star as the tortured Angel on Buffy, he made his first mark in Hollywood as a dim biker boyfriend of Kelly Bundy on Married... With Children. Boreanaz says he is delighted that the producers of Angel have found a way to weave comedy into the show's story lines -- including last season's finale, in which Angel and his friends entered another dimension in which the vampire was able to see himself in a mirror (his first reaction was to scold his companions for not alerting him that he was having a bad hair day).
"Oh, I love comedy, absolutely, especially since my early stage work was in these intense dramas where I always seemed to play bitter, repressed characters," he says. "I just finished a movie, a romantic comedy called I'm With Lucy where I get as far away from Angel as you can imagine. I play a cheesy orthopedic surgeon from Miami with big fluffy hair. It was just a lot of fun."
While friends have described Boreanaz as shy, colleagues say he is warm and supportive on the Angel set.
"David is just one of the most amazing partners any actor could hope for," says Julie Benz, who plays Darla, the bewitching vampire who bit and transformed Angel back when the character was an 18th-century Irish lad. "When we do a scene together, I look into his eyes and feel totally safe to go wherever our characters need to go. He'd laugh at me for saying this, but he really has taught me a lot about acting just by being with him."
Yet if Boreanaz is serious about his craft, career is by no means a be-all and end-all for him. He credits his father, a veteran Philadelphia TV weatherman whom he calls his best friend, for preparing him for stardom.
"My dad is just such an amazing man," he says warmly. "And for as long as I can remember, he has taught me about handling `celebrity.' Everywhere we went, people would recognize him, and he was always kind and polite to them. That made such an impression on me, that he always took the time to talk to these people, to treat them the way we would want to be treated. He made it clear to me that he knew his being `famous' didn't make him any better than these other people.
"That's helped me a lot in dealing with fans out here. I know I hear all these nightmare stories about fans, especially on a show that's maybe a little `odd' like ours," he says, chuckling, "but with very few exceptions, people who come up to me are just very, very nice. I honestly can't remember the last time anyone caused me a hassle of any kind."
When time permits, he keeps in touch with his fans via his official Website, even though he still views the Internet somewhat warily.
"My involvement is pretty much making phone calls to update the news about me," he explains. "It's a good way to pass information to my fans, but sitting at a computer every day is not my favorite thing. That's a little too impersonal, a little too Atlas Shrugged for me."
He says turning 30 last May was not traumatic in the least.
"My grandfather was blessed to live until he was 89, so 30 seems pretty minor," Boreanaz says. "Although looking back, my life went through some huge changes between 25 and 30. I think that probably is true for a lot of people.
"I just try very hard to leave myself open, to see what unfolds. I'm very much a work in progress. I think of myself as a clay pot, and the important people in my life kind of pick me up and paint me and shape me. It makes for an interesting life, and that seems to be working for me right now."