Lara Flynn Boyle

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Biography

An old-style Hollywood star who made her name both in film and on television, actress Lara Flynn Boyle cultivated an image that was confident and sometimes crass, harkening back to the strong independent women of cinema from yesteryear like Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, and Joan Crawford. Much like the stars of old, Boyle also exuded glamour and class even while playing wholesome characters like she did in her first major role as a series …
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Job Title

Actor, Producer

Born

March 24, 1970

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About

An old-style Hollywood star who made her name both in film and on television, actress Lara Flynn Boyle cultivated an image that was confident and sometimes crass, harkening back to the strong independent women of cinema from yesteryear like Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, and Joan Crawford. Much like the stars of old, Boyle also exuded glamour and class even while playing wholesome characters like she did in her first major role as a series regular on "Twin Peaks" (ABC, 1990-91). She managed to shed that good girl persona with a turn as a sultry seductress in the neo-noir "Red Rock West" (1993) before returning to the small screen for David E. Kelley's "The Practice" (ABC, 1997-2004), playing a determined assistant district attorney willing to violate ethics to see justice done. While that role helped turn her into a household name, Boyle continued making interesting choices on the big screen with noted supporting roles in the indie black comedy "Happiness" (1998) and the blockbuster sequel "Men in Black II" (2002). Her on-and-off relationship with a much older Jack Nicholson also garnered its share of attention, as did her fashion choices, including a pink tutu dress she infamously wore to the Golden Globes. Following two noted returns to television with "Huff" (HBO, 2004-06) and "Las Vegas" (NBC, 2003-08), Boyle remained one of the more dynamic actresses working in Hollywood who never failed to fascinate.

Born on March 24, 1970 in Davenport, IA, Boyle was raised in Chicago by her mother, Sally, a clerical worker who later managed her daughter's career, and her father, a municipal worker. When she was six years old, her parents divorced, leaving the only child to live with her mother. As a teenager, Boyle was diagnosed with dyslexia and later enrolled at the Piven Theater improvisational workshop as a means to develop ways of expressing herself. Despite the challenge of her learning disability, which initially left her feeling helpless on every level, Boyle soon discovered that she could use the disease to her advantage, which in short allowed her to memorize her lines better through repetition. Meanwhile, she attended the Chicago Academy of the Arts on scholarship before performing in local theater productions. Although she had landed a supporting role as Robert Urich's daughter in the miniseries "Amerika" (ABC, 1987), Boyle heeded her mother's wishes and finished high school before beginning her career in earnest.

Boyle's film debut came as the cousin of little Carol Ann (Heather O'Rourke) in the rather unnecessary sequel "Poltergeist III" (1988), but she nonetheless gained prominence with her portrayal of homicide victim Jennifer Levin in the made-for-television movie "The Preppie Murder" (ABC, 1989). After a turn as Charlie Sheen's girlfriend in "The Rookie" (1990), David Lynch cast her as the wholesome girl-next-door, Donna Hayward, who is the best friend of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) and obsessed with finding her killer in the surreal cult drama, "Twin Peaks" (ABC, 1990-91). Boyle tried to shake her alleged nice image playing a showgirl involved with gangster Lucky Luciano (Christian Slater) in "Mobsters" (1991), a teenaged runaway in "Where the Day Takes You" (1992), and as the accident-prone former girlfriend of Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) in "Wayne's World" (1992). She delivered a delicately nuanced performance as Matthew Modine's shy lover in "Equinox" (1992), before turning villainous in the cliché-ridden psychological thriller, "The Temp" (1993). Boyle was fine as the manipulative target of a hit man in John Dahl's neo-noir "Red Rock West" (1993), which she followed as a promiscuous collegian in the poorly received comedy "Threesome" (1994).

Reunited with Modine, Boyle shone as Rachel opposite his titular character in the biblical miniseries "Jacob" (TNT, 1994). Her sultry charms were employed to good effect as a woman driven to prostitution by her husband in the 1950s-era "Cafe Society" (Showtime, 1996), which she followed with a turn as a struggling barmaid who hires a con man (Benny O'Malley) to help her get her fair share of an injury settlement from her louse husband (Luca Bercovici) in the dark comedy "The Big Squeeze" (1996). While receiving a string of favorable reviews for her film and television work, it took another return to series television for Boyle to become a household name. Though she auditioned for the lead in "Ally McBeal" (Fox, 1997-2002), she was instead cast by David E. Kelley on his legal drama, "The Practice" (ABC, 1997-2004), playing an assistant district attorney attracted to defense lawyer Dylan McDermott. Boyle spent six seasons on the show until her character inexplicably disappeared without explanation after the actress was dismissed from the cast due to budget cuts. During her run on the show, Boyle continued appearing in movies, as a young woman involved with a much older handyman in "Afterglow" (1997) and as a successful poet who earns the obsessed attentions of a lonely repressed man (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in director Todd Solondz's disturbing "Happiness" (1998).

As her popularity soared, interest in Boyle's personal life also accelerated, particularly in 1999 when she became involved in an on-again, off-again affair with the much older Jack Nicholson. Prior to her relationship with Nicholson, she had a string of romances with the likes of Kyle MacLachlan, Richard Dean Anderson and even David Spade, while marrying music executive John Patrick Dee - a marriage she routinely refused to confirm. At the same time, Boyle's sometimes scary-skinny frame and edgy fashion choices - including the notorious pink tutu mini-dress she wore to the 2003 Golden Globes, only days after the final breakup with Nicholson - kept tabloid readers fixated, as the woman clearly and unapologetically marched to the beat of her own drum. Boyle scored her first blockbuster hit with "Men in Black II" (2002), playing a shape-shifting alien who antagonizes Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). Returning to series television, she had a recurring role on "Huff" (Showtime, 2004-06) as a mental patient with uncontrollable violent impulses who sees the show's titular psychiatrist (Hank Azaria). Following just one season on "Huff," Boyle returned to network television for a recurring role on "Las Vegas" (NBC, 2003-08), playing a former stripper and cocktail waitress who married an older billionaire and inherited his money when he died. When her character was written off the show by dying in a freak accident, Boyle returned to features with a turn as an overbearing boss in the Heather Graham comedy "Baby on Board" (2009) and as a cruel prostitute in the drug-themed "Life Is Hot in Cracktown" (2009).