A Chat with David Boreanaz
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David Boreanaz isn’t quite at the point where people see his face and immediately think, “Hey, it’s that guy who plays FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth on ‘Bones’!” But with the Fox series resuming its second season after a World Series-induced hiatus, he’s certainly getting there. Bullz-Eye had a chance to talk with Boreanaz for a few minutes on his cell phone while he was driving to the set; he discussed the evolution of his character on “Bones,” his recent film work with Alan Cumming (that’s Nightcrawler from the second “X-Men” movie, kids), and, although we were led to understand that his conversational preference was to stick to the new rather than the old, we still snuck in one “Angel” question at the end.
David Boreanaz: Hey, Will.
DB: It’s David.
BE: How’s it going?
DB: Good, man. How ya doin’?
BE: Not bad. Are you on your way to work?
BE: Well, I’m officially the envy of my wife today. Like, it was already going to be a good Wednesday for her, because there’s a new “Bones” on tonight, but, now…
DB: Alright! (Laughs) Yeah! Who do I sleep with tonight?
BE: (Laughs) So, how totally psyched were you when “Bones” got picked up for a second season?
DB: Um, well, I was excited. I mean, I think I always put things in perspective with shows and the nature of…just the way the system runs. Y’know, I could’ve done one show and it could’ve gotten cancelled after four episodes, I could’ve done just one season, it could be cancelled tomorrow…so I kind of focus on each show as it’s ordered and prescribed in every scene. I’ve always kind of lived with that as my mantra. But, I mean, being able to get a season under your belt fully, y’know, I was very proud of the work that everybody did, from the cast to the writers to establishing it. We’re still in an area of getting our legs up and going, but we’ve made such leaps and bounds from last year, I think considerably, that it’s enabled us to kind of… (Hesitates) The good thing is that you’re so excited because you know the potential of it and you know where you want to go with it…and when you see strides going toward it, that – to me – is better than huge leaps and bounds. We’re obviously a smaller show on the Fox network, and that enables us to do a lot of things that other networks wouldn’t do…but, at the same time, we’re not as exposed as an NBC or a CBS. But we hold our own…we do more than hold our own, I feel…and I’m proud of that. So I was very excited, particularly for people (in the cast and crew) who were on a show for the first time…but it takes a lot of work just to get to that point, and when you get that confirmation, it’s a big relief.
BE: How much of the character of Booth existed before you were cast in the role? Because, I mean, there’s certainly some similarities: you’ve got a son, he’s got a son, they’re about the same age…
DB: Yeah, I mean, I think that we brought a lot of that to the role…like a lot of his old-school mentality, his love of nostalgia, his reminiscing of older things. It was more considerable in the first season; I loosened him up a little bit with some things this year.
BE: My wife noticed that you’d been dressing more casual lately.
DB: Yep, dressing more casual. I think we’re kind of leading him toward a little bit of a mental breakdown, which’ll be fun. (Laughs) But I think it also enables us…I mean, we knew that the credibility in the first season needed to be putting him into specifics but pushing the limit, whether it’s the belt buckle or the thin ties or the pens. All the stuff that he kind of holds near and dear to him, now he’s starting to loosen up a little bit…probably because the system’s doing that to him. And I think we start to unravel that a little bit. You peel things at specific moments and times, and, so far, you have to be real careful with that. But those are fun things to do.
BE: I know they’ve thrown a few things into the mix over the last year or two to create an air of mystery about Booth, but how would you like to see the character evolve?
DB: I’m very happy with where he’s going now! Again, I think that there’s a sense of a downfall for him with the system, with the way the FBI operates and his mode of how he operates. In the next episode that we work on, that we start shooting tomorrow…which is episode 9, which is hard to believe; we’ve only shown three episodes…we see a bit of him taking charge because somebody’s in danger that’s near and dear to him, and he goes above and beyond what the FBI ops would do, and the statistics. He goes off the stats, saying, “This is what this person would do,” and he’s gonna do it, and he’s not going to listen to his superiors in order to get what he wants, because time is ticking.” And I think that’s an interesting way of looking of things. Whether he has the consequences of getting in trouble is a whole other thing. So, y’know, to lay that out as a development of his character and expanding it, and being more loose with him now and being more physical with him…I always wanted to add more physicality to the role, whether that’s fighting or shooting more. Everyone wants to shoot guns, drive fast, and make women swoon.
DB: (Laughs) I mean, shit, why not? It’s a tough job, but… (Trails off) I’ve enjoyed the development of him so far, and where he’s going…I couldn’t ask for more. Sitting down with Hart (Hanson, creator and executive producer of “Bones”), creatively, and saying this and that, and a lot of the ideas I come up with, he incorporates them, which is refreshing. It’s nice to have that kind of teamwork, rather than just him saying, “Well, this is what you’re doing, and you’ll go this way.” Because that happens, and that can be a nightmare.
BE: Yeah, I was wondering if you find yourself working out a history for Booth in your head.
DB: Well, I do. I had a timeline, with his grandfather, his father, his relationship with his past, and they broke up…alcoholism, his gambling addictions…all that stuff will kind of come to the forefront. We’re shooting a Vegas show now, we just got to go back to Vegas, and those addictions rise up again with him, and she’s there for him, so…it’s stuff like that I enjoy bringing out of the character, and letting that drive his story with a thorough line of the procedural. Our show has a very delicate balance. It’s a tough show because it’s open-ended. We start it and we end it, and the next week you have a new episode; it’s not continuous…but the characters are now starting to open up moreso with the continuous aspect. Like, “Last week, we did this.” There’s broader strokes to it, with the writers getting more specific with the character development, which is nice.
BE: You know, I think Emily Deschanel might have the best blank stare in television.
DB: She does, man. She keeps a lot behind it, too. Shit, I thought I had the best blank stare…and then I got a character where I could open up a little bit! So that’s how it fucking operates, huh?
BE: Exactly. And ya’ll do the banter thing great.
DB: You know, it’s one thing to have banter, but it’s another to have chemistry behind it, and we work hard on that. We work weekends, and we work with our same coach, Ivana Chubbuck, who is a fantastic coach. She’s coached people like Halle Berry to an Academy Award. She just gives us the ability to apply what’s in our lives to our work, and I operate best off that; I finally found something that works with me as an actor…and, y’know, other people work different ways, but that works best for me. And working so close with one another, especially on an hour drama, where you’re basically spending more time on the set – 80 hours a week – than you are at home, so you become a family, and you develop that kind of banter and chemistry.
BE: How sick are you of getting asked if Booth and Bones will get together?
DB: You know, people will always…I don’t get sick of any of that stuff. If I did, then I’d be more concerned about that than other things. I got it in my other shows, too. “How sick are you of playing a vampire?” “How sick are you of doing this?” It’s, like, I never focus on any of that stuff. It comes with the territory, and you take it with a grain of salt. It’s what I do, I enjoy it, and…the more questions, the better. It means they’re interested, I guess. That’s a good thing; it’s not a bad thing.
BE: What’s the story on your movie, “Suffering Man’s Charity”? I’ve been an Alan Cumming fan since he was in “Goldeneye.”
DB: Yeah, y’know, I wish I had some more information for you on it. I mean, we shot the movie at Christmas last year, I know he’s trying to shoot for Sundance, I don’t know what the update is on it. I asked that question yesterday to my people, and they’re trying to figure it out. It was a really dark, wacky film. He’s a talented genius of a guy. I know there’s a process of showing it, trying to sell it…I dunno. Who knows? I dunno. I’ve done three or four films in the past two years that have just gone astray, and they don’t sell, and it’s, like…I don’t know what the hell happens with ‘em. I just enjoy playing the characters, y’know? Maybe when I’ve got a well-rounded resume, when I get to a certain part in my career, maybe then those films will start creeping out a little bit more. And then maybe that’s a good thing. Or it could be a bad thing; I dunno.
BE: Y’know, I live literally about ten minutes away from PETA’s headquarters, and I know you did an ad campaign for them. Did you approach them, or did they approach you?
DB: Oh, yeah, I’ve been involved with them for awhile now; it’s just been an ongoing thing. I got involved with them through a publicist of mine way back in the day, and they’ve always been…I’ve been associated with them through that, and the campaign I did for them with my two dogs way, way…I mean, that was eight years ago, that first campaign with my two dogs. They’re now passed away. But I’ve always familiarized myself with them and maintained a sense of responsibility towards that as best as I can. I mean, I don’t go around pounding it into people’s brains, but they’re really cool.
BE: Okay, and then just two more quick questions, ‘cause I know you need to get to the set. Would you care to hazard a guess how many times the trio of “dark,” “brooding,” and “Boreanaz” come up when I Google them together?
DB: (Laughs) I like that. Brando got it, didn’t he? It doesn’t bother me. There’s more dark and hilarious stuff to come, I guess. We’ll get more refreshing, hopefully. Who knows?
BE: And the last one (and I’ve saved it for last intentionally) is, are you any less reticent about re-donning the “Angel” mantle now that “Bones” has taken off?
DB: Uh, y’know, for me, it’s just about material and writing and work and that’s it. And the people involved. That’s all. I look at it as projects to be passionate about, and I’ve maintained a sense of longevity and I’ve been fortunate to go into another show that’s been phenomenal and successful, and I’m blessed to have that. So…I don’t know. I look forward to the challenges of tomorrow, and what I’m going into in the next ten minutes with a scene. I haven’t been one for reunions. I haven’t been back to my college since I graduated; I’m not a big reunion fan. I guess I’ve never really looked back in the past; I just kind of learn and grow from it. For me, that’s kind of what my life is about, and I maintain a sense of strength from it.
BE: See, I saved the “Angel” question for last. I didn’t harp on it.
DB: No, no, it’s all good, dude. It’s all good. No worries. No harping. Harp’s good beer, too.
BE: Yeah, it is. Oh, and one more thing: can you say hello to my wife, Jenn?
DB: Sure, I’d love to. (Goes silent)
BE: (Realizes he’s waiting for her to get on the line) Oh, sorry, she’s not here. But if you could just say it on the tape…
DB: Oh, okay. Hi, Jenn. I’ve really enjoyed talking to your husband there. He drinks Harp beer, and he’s a good man…and thanks for tuning into “Bones.” (Laughs) It’s gonna be a better season, and, uh, that’s all. Hope to meet you someday, with your husband.
BE: Absolutely. We’ll be picking up the Season 1 DVD set, by the way.
DB: Cool, man. Hey, I appreciate it.
BE: Oh, and did you contribute to that? Did ya’ll do commentary for that?
DB: Yes, we did.
BE: Sweet. Okay, David, that’s a lot. Good talking to you.
DB: Cool, and, hey, have a good day!