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David Boreanaz – Earning His Bones

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

David Boreanaz stars in "Bones."

David Boreanaz stars in “Bones.”

David Boreanaz

Earning His Bones

by Jay S. Jacobs

Most actors go their entire career looking for a role on a long-running series.  With the second season premiere of his popular FOX forensic drama Bones, David Boreanaz is now making his mark on his third multi-year show.

Boreanaz knows that he is lucky to be in this position and he does not take it for granted.  However he also knows that he has a certain skill which has opened these doors for him.  Boreanaz is not one to reminisce on past jobs.  He is always looking forward to making his current role better.

“I’m fortunate to work and continue,” Boreanaz says, “just work on where I want to go.  To me I don’t think of it always as a means to an end, but as a new door opening – whatever that may be.  Taking on those challenges.  I never thought about that or never really kind of invested my time in that.  I invest my time and put my energy into work presently, not the past.  I work moment to moment.  For me that helps.  That’s just the way I operate.”

Television might be in Boreanaz’s blood, as his father is long-time Philadelphia weatherman Dave Roberts (Roberts chose his assumed last name as a young meteorologist).  Through his dad he did get a little insight to the television world, however Boreanaz insists that family connection did not lead him in front to the camera.

“My dad was a big influence on me,” Boreanaz says, “just not in regards to getting involved in acting.  In anything that I did, first and foremost [there] was his support – from my mom and my dad.  I remember him saying to me, ‘You know, whatever you decide to do, there’s always going to be good times, bad times.  You have to work through those, no matter what profession you’re in.’ He instilled that into me and was always supportive of whatever I was interested in or what I wanted to surround myself in, as long as it was healthy for me.  He was responsible for that.  So he’s a big influence on me, but it was something I kind of found through discovery.  I moved to Philadelphia and got involved in some plays.  Went to New York and saw some Broadway stuff.  From there it just blossomed into a career for me.  When I came out to Los Angeles I decided to go after it and be surrounded by that.  It’s been a great work in progress for me so far.”

This work in progress has led Boreanaz steadily up the Hollywood food chain.  He first garnered notice as Kelly Bundy’s boyfriend in an episode of Married… With Children.  However, he really made his mark a few years later when he was brought in to portray the Angel, the vampire love interest on the cult TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The character started out just as a recurring role, however the actor quickly became so popular that he ended up being in over 50 episodes over two seasons.  Then, the character was spun off to its own show.  Angel ran for four more seasons.

This turn of luck – going from a recurring to a series regular – has made Boreanaz very conscious of actors going through the same experience on his series.

“It’s great to see people emerge from guest spots,” Boreanaz acknowledges, “to have a strong impact on a show.  Coming from that world – I started as a recurring character.  If you’re fortunate they take the character and spin off from that.  It’s always great to see strong characters come on and really have an impact, not only with the characters, but also move off of that.  I enjoy watching that happen if that happens.”

He also enjoys the fact that many of the fans that he made on Buffy and Angel seem to have followed him to Bones – a similarly dark and funny, but otherwise very different show.

“I think they’ve embraced it considerably,” he says.  “I think that the numbers speak volumes.  To me, it’s just a fantastic outlook on how they can embrace that and move with you.  Some may like it, some may hate it.  I can’t control that.  I’m just there for the work.”

While he is happy for his experience in Buffy, he can’t even start to contrast it with his new series.

“Not much really to compare,” Boreanaz states.  “Two different shows.  Two different genres.  They’re just two different levels of experiences that I went through for different types of characters.  No comparison.”

No comparison, because as much as he loves his old shows, Boreanaz is strongly, staunchly proud of his latest as his finest work.  He feels passionately that his byplay with costar Emily Deschanel is taking this already good extremely show to new, rarified heights.  Deschanel plays Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan, the genius forensic doctor who becomes a de facto partner to Boreanaz’s tough fed Special Agent Seeley Booth.

“Best pairing you’re ever going to see,” he states boldly.  “I’ll tell you that right now.  This season will be the best pairing as far as television characters are concerned.  You won’t see a dynamic between two characters who I feel have such love for each other and respect at the same time and continue to grow off each other.  I say that with utmost confidence.  Obviously, my opinion is a little different than other people because I work in it and I’m there in it on a daily basis,” he laughs, “but the momentum we had coming out of last season, going into this season, it’s day and night.  It’s really a totally different show this season.  I’m really excited about it.”

What causes that excitement in Boreanaz is how the show juggles the personal and professional lives of the characters.  This balancing act is becoming even more important to the series as it settles in and matures in the new season.

“You have the procedural through line which is always consistent with each episode, which will somehow mirror what each character is going through personally” Boreanaz explains.  “Which will always be ongoing, the personal stuff.  For me, I’d like to see it as an 80/20 split.  More character, as far as I approach the show is concerned.  It’s more interesting to watch that trying to solve a crime.  There are shows out there that focus 100% on just the procedural.  You know, that’s great.  People like that.  But, I don’t really.  I prefer the characters to come to the forefront of it.  Get invested in their lives and invested into how they solve these specific crimes.  How horrific they are.  How they affect them as they deal with their personal stuff.”

Last season ended with a storm of personal problems for Dr. Brennan.   Her long-lost mother was found dead.  She had to try to reconcile with her estranged brother.  Then, she learned at the cliffhanger that her father – who had disappeared with her mother and she had long assumed was also dead – was still alive.  The season premiere touches on this cliffhanger plot briefly, but it is still far from being resolved.

“Towards the end of this first show, she does actually go and visit her mother’s grave and we find out that her father was there, visiting her,” Boreanaz says.  “The plot kind of thickens.  On the car ride into the first big accident that we have and discovery, we touch on it.  It will definitely come out later on as the season progresses.  It’s a case in work.  It’s not one of those easy cases.

“Other characters that were from last season – last year, we had this character Epps, who was a serial killer.  (Epps was played by Heath Freeman in the episode ‘A Man on Death Row.’)  We just did an episode again with him.  You never know what they can do with him.  They can bring him out; he can be involved with the Mafia, her father…  They can go so many ways with this.  It’s really opened the door creatively for the writers to expand off.”

Of course, there is another personal dimension of the show – and one that Boreanaz finds intoxicating.  It is the personal interaction and obvious attraction the Booth and Bones feel for each other and the outside forces that keep them apart.  In this season there will be even more roadblocks.

“Last year, there was a decision to bring somebody on who I thought that would have been good for the show – as far as bringing in another female character that would give a different perspective,” Boreanaz says.  “Someone who was coming between Booth and Brennan.  Cam is the new head of forensics at the Jeffersonian, came from the New York area, worked in labs in basements without the best facilities.  We’ve known each other and we have a past, so you’re going to bring that relationship to the forefront, which is going to cause problems and tensions early on and throughout the season.  How we handle that.  How I handle that.  Do I go back to that?  I think we’ll see that as we progress in the episodes.  It’ll cause some interesting sparks between us and Bones.  Even the mother of my child – Jessica Capshaw is playing [her] – is going to bring in some interesting stuff.  I’m surrounded by a lot of interesting women this year.  For Booth it will bring up some stuff from his past that’s going to be fun to watch him handle.

“We’re definitely going to see it on all characters, prospectively.  The fascinating part of this series has always been the characters and how we draw these stories.  What their personal lives are all about and how they handle their personal lives when they’re in their professional lives.  How they bring that into their professional lives.  How it affects them.  That’s always going to be running.  It’s not going just to be for this season, it was last year.”

Of course the simmering sexual tension between the two main characters is something that both are fighting. They are so involved in their jobs that it seems almost like they would be cheating on the cases to have an affair. These are two no-nonsense people who don’t want to throw caution to the wind, no matter what the temptations. However, with everyone else around them seeming to believe they are a perfect match and their own potent chemistry, they can’t pretend that there is no attraction.

“It’s a fine line, flirting with the audience and putting [Booth and Bones] in situations where they may have to go undercover,” Boreanaz says. “If they’re out of town and share the same hotel room, or if they’re on a stakeout together like we had in the first episode, but it’s very intimate and quiet. They’re very close and you think they’re going to kiss and they’re not going to kiss. I think when you add in different conflicts of characters like Cam, there’s going to be jealousy, there’s going to be some hot, steamy reactions. That’s how they keep that relationship alive, and that’s how they kind of thrive off that. So they’ll continue to do that. For me, I think it’s more interesting to have two characters who are flirting with that aspect of it, rather than having them done it.”

Still he does recognize that the show has to be careful with this flirtation. The resolutions of similar storylines have wrecked many shows before it.

“They did it in Moonlighting and the series was over,” Boreanaz laughs. “But at the same time, I mean, who knows, maybe they can figure out how to write these two characters together and have them evolve. But, personally, I enjoy the sparring that they have. The possibility and intrigue of them hooking up and how they may do that, to me, is pretty interesting.”

Also interesting, Boreanaz has a new film on its way. Suffering Man’s Charity was written by co-star Alan Cummings – who plays a college professor who befriends Boreanaz’s young writer and kills him to get access to his manuscript. When the book becomes a best seller, the ghost of the young author returns to haunt the murderer.

“It’s dark,” Boreanaz says. “Pretty dark and pretty heavy. I think the absurdity of how man is so desperate and lonely for something – played by Alan Cummings, who just thrives to torture somebody else for his own gain. [I guess] you could find the dark comedy in that. It was intense. It was two-three weeks of working while I was shooting this. Before Christmas break, which I probably will never do again. It’s just the workload was nuts. Working with somebody like Alan who is directing it as well as starring in it was a phenomenal experience; to work with someone of that caliber. To learn and to grow and to challenge yourself to go places that you never thought you could go to. That was great.”

However, Boreanaz is even more excited about how his series and his character are maturing.

“I’m evolving with him every episode,” Boreanaz says, “so I love what he’s doing. I think it’s the unexpected with him. I think we’ll see it more this season, where he’s a little bit more unexpected. He’s very charming with people and behind that, there’s that turn. I love that aspect of his character.”

In fact, Boreanaz is happy to be in the second season so that the show can really find its voice. The best part of being on a long-running series is that they no longer have to worry about establishing who the characters are and what they are all about.

“Within that first season, you operate mainly off of trying to find the show, first and foremost. For me it was always about finding a relationship. With Booth’s relationship with Bones, how he was going to operate day in and day out. How that would affect him being respected by his FBI colleagues, as far as the storyline is concerned. I think it’s more defined halfway down in the middle of the first season, and they really rely on these characters to find themselves when they do. Things just happen. There’s a click. It’s like catching lightning in a jar when you do that. Things just open up. We found that towards the end of the first season. There were moments of it in the first ten episodes. But it takes time to find that. We are under the double-edged sword of finishing last season so late and starting so early that we had no break. But then, the beauty of it was picking up where we left off and continuing that momentum into this season.”

Copyright ©2006 All rights reserved. Posted: September 9, 2006.

Photo Credit: #1 © 2006. Courtesy of Fox Television. All rights reserved.

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