Why Hollywood won't cast Lara Flynn Boyle anymore

Lara Flynn Boyle was undeniably one of the biggest young stars in Hollywood in the early 1990s, if not a major "It Girl" of the era. She had back-to-back breakout roles in two cultural phenomena of that decade: as troubled and inquisitive teen Donna Hayward on ABC's mind-bending mystery Twin Peaks, and as Wayne's desperate ex-girlfriend Stacy (a.k.a. the "psycho hose beast") in the big-screen version of the Saturday Night Live sketch Wayne's World.

Adept at both drama and comedy, it didn't hurt that Boyle looked like a femme fatale straight out of a 1940s classic Hollywood thriller. The actress looked to have a long, fruitful, and forever growing career ahead of her in TV and film. However, fast-forward about three decades, and Boyle is rarely seen anywhere anymore. Just what happened to this once captivating star on the rise? Here are some reasons why Lara Flynn Boyle has been largely missing from the world of entertainment.

Lara Flynn Boyle's love life got in the way of her work

Everyone deserves love and affection, even big-time Hollywood actors. However, when pursuing relationships gets in the way of work — and makes production of a film or TV series more difficult for the people putting it all together — that can affect a performer's reputation, and word can easily spread around Hollywood that they're difficult to work with, or just not worth the trouble. This just might be the situation that played out for Lara Flynn Boyle. 

During the filming of her first major project, the 1990-91 TV series Twin Peaks, Boyle dated her co-star, Kyle MacLachlan, whose on-screen romantic interest was Sherilyn Fenn. "Lara was dating Kyle, and she was mad that my character was getting more attention," Fenn dished of the on-set feud to The AV Club in 2014. "So then Kyle started saying that his character shouldn't be with my character because it doesn't look good, 'cause I'm too young." In order to appease MacLachlan (and by extension, Boyle), Twin Peaks writers overhauled the show's creative and narrative trajectory, splitting up MacLachlan and Fenn's characters and pairing them up with new love interests portrayed by Heather Graham and Billy Zane.

Allowing a relationship to complicate a show's development? Not cool.

Her high-profile romances made her tabloid fodder

As a young starlet with the world's attention in the 1990s (and into the 2000s), Lara Flynn Boyle certainly had her pick of romantic partners. The actress landed a string of famous boyfriends in this era, including Eric Dane (Grey's Anatomy's Dr. Mark Sloan), Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz, and even TV's MacGyver, Richard Dean Anderson.

There's certainly nothing wrong with keeping an active romantic life, but it may not be beneficial in the long run for an actor to run up a long list of lovers. The more a performer is photographed with partners or appears in gossip columns and supermarket tabloids, the more they're associated with that world — that secondary, kind of cheesy market of "celebrity." It's hard for those kinds of stars to be considered serious artists dedicated to their craft, which, over time, can lead to less roles on offer. If the public is more likely to associate a performer with famous flings than they are with any roles, it doesn't bode well for their future career prospects.

Lara Flynn Boyle was entangled in a messy love triangle

While the right romance can do wonders for one's acting career — what is a relationship but another form of networking? — the wrong ones can hinder success, particularly if they go sour in a public way. In the late 1990s, Lara Flynn Boyle dated David Spade, best known at the time for his stint on Saturday Night Live and role on the sitcom Just Shoot Me. However, as he later told Details in 2015 (via the Daily Mail), the relationship started to unravel when Jack Nicholson made a play for the actress.

"Nicholson asked Lara Flynn Boyle out in front of me," Spade said. "She got mad because I didn't stick up for her." While she initially denied any interest in him, Boyle was later caught in public with Nicholson after getting into a car accident. She reportedly emerged from the car's sunroof and tried to escape, yelling, "I have a boyfriend! I can't be here!" When the National Enquirer called Spade for a comment, that's when he found out she'd supposedly been two-timing.

Soon thereafter, Nicholson and Boyle took their relationship public, but the love affair's damage was done. Spade looked like the victim, Nicholson the stud, and Boyle the cad. It's not fair, and it's certainly sexist, but that's Hollywood.

She hasn't had the best luck with movies

No matter how illustrious their career, it's inevitable that an actor will eventually star in a flop. Every movie that's made and released is done so on an educated guess of what the public will enjoy and embrace, but even objectively good movies flop. However, too many flops in a row — or when they're the rule, not the exception — and that reputation reflects poorly on the star. And so it went for Lara Flynn Boyle.

After earning good notices for the 1993 indie classic Red Rock West, Boyle wound up in a series of forgettable mid-'90s stinkers, including Threesome, Baby's Day Out, and The Road to Wellville. Boyle headed back to smaller movies in the latter part of the decade, then returned to the multiplex with a role as evil alien shapeshifter Serleena in 2002's Men in Black II, which didn't earn the critical raves box office fortune of its predecessor. Through her involvement in these films, Boyle became associated with bad movies and undeniable flops, which likely hurt her chances of snagging roles in bigger and better films thereafter.

Lara Flynn Boyle craved fame more than artistic achievement

The fringe benefits of making it big as an actor are undeniably attractive, among them fame, money, and trophies from one's peers telling them that they are very good at playing make-believe on film. But those rewards and plaudits usually only come with a lot of hard work — actors have to care about their craft. 

We're not suggesting that Lara Flynn Boyle didn't care about honing her acting skills (she earned her first and so far only Emmy nomination in 1999 for her work on The Practice), but she seemed to care less about character motivation and more about living the luxurious life of a Hollywood star, and unabashedly so. "Look, I love being famous," Boyle said at a 2013 Wayne's World cast reunion (via the Daily Mail). "I'm not one of those people who feels like, 'Why won't they leave me alone?'" The actress went on to quip that if she were to "care only about the craft of acting," then she'd "be doing dinner theatre in Iowa."

Sounds like Boyle was a little too fame-hungry, no?

Her reality TV career ended before it began

Fortunately for actors and everyone else who works in the entertainment industry, the twin explosions of cable TV and streaming services means there is a lot more room and demand for content than there was in the days of three or four broadcast networks. All those outlets have to fill out their lineups, and reality shows are a relatively cheap and easy way to do that. Shows about celebrities whose star may have dimmed a bit is a genre unto itself, and provides a spotlight and a paycheck.

In 2010, Lara Flynn Boyle appeared ready to join the likes of The Surreal Life and The Anna Nicole Show with her own cable TV series documenting her day-to-day life. According to Deadline, the network E! — home to celebrity-based reality shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians — ordered a pilot for a series that would depict both sides of Boyle's dualistic private life: at her home in Texas with real estate tycoon husband Donald Ray Thomas II, and then flitting around Bel Air.

Unfortunately, the series never progressed beyond that opening salvo, and thus never made it to air. It's too bad, as a reality TV show could have helped boost Boyle's recognition.

Lara Flynn Boyle thinks people don't like her

Lara Flynn Boyle's career was in pretty good shape in early 2001. She was four years into her run as assistant district attorney Helen Gamble on ABC's The Practice, which had already won two Emmy Awards for outstanding drama series. Then she gave an interview to Vanity Fair in which she pinpointed some of her own perceived faults and flaws, which, ironically, hinted at a career downturn to come.

"I'm the kind of woman who, when she walks into a party, all the other women leave the room," Boyle said (via the New York Post). "I think I'm scary to people." The self-proclaimed "bad girl" went on to call out a major double standard as it related to the media coverage of her love life: "Women are judged differently. If a guy is young, somewhat successful and going out and being seen with women, it's no big deal. I mean, I'm not married, so..."

Considering that studio execs need their stars to get along on set, it's possible that Boyle set herself up for derision by adopting this defensive (if not aggressive) reputation she claims to possess. That, or she's telling the truth, and Hollywood folks just don't want to work with her, because they find her too intimidating.

The fallout from a non-scandal damaged her image

In January 2006, a representative for Harrison Ford confirmed to ABC News that the man behind Indiana Jones had separated from his wife of 17 years, screenwriter Melissa Mathison. Around the same time, the National Enquirer posted photos of Ford and Lara Flynn Boyle allegedly canoodling in a New York nightclub after the VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards. Ford's agent claimed that the actor and his wife had split before the Boyle encounter, while Boyle told Vanity Fair (via the New York Post) that nothing romantic whatsoever had gone down with Ford. "That was so blown out of proportion," Boyle said. "I sat down in a booth with Harrison Ford at a party and talked to him for five minutes."

Nevertheless, the damage was done to Boyle's already increasingly poor reputation and perhaps to her career prospects. "People really think I'm a home wrecker," Boyle said. "That I'm difficult. That I'm crazy." 

It's probably not too easy to secure a new acting gig after people think you ruined Han Solo's marriage.

Lara Flynn Boyle lost out on a major potential comeback

The recent TV reboot-and-revival craze has surely been a blessing for the careers of actors best known for their roles in those once dead but rebirthed shows. Exposure to a whole new audience, while reminding longtime fans of their appeal, can lead to new roles and latter-day relevance. Unfortunately, that didn't happen for Lara Flynn Boyle.

The 2017 Showtime revival of the beloved cult show Twin Peaks reacquainted a delighted fan base with a number of cast members from the original '90s run reprising their roles, including Kyle MacLachlan (Special Agent Dale Cooper), Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne), and Catherine Coulson (The Log Lady). Conspicuously absent from the sprawling cast of Twin Peaks: The Return, however, was Boyle and her character, Donna Hayward. While the Daily Mail reported that Boyle was "desperate" to return to Twin Peaks, she apparently wasn't asked. "You can go talk to Lara Flynn Boyle," show co-creator David Lynch told TV Line. "This is a story that takes place without her." Well, that stings.

She's faced sexism in Hollywood throughout her career

Like many stars in the spotlight, Lara Flynn Boyle once worried about growing older and losing out on roles to younger actresses. "I know I may be running out of time," she said back in 2002 (via the Daily Mail). "There are just not that many roles for older women. On a vanity level, I am not looking forward to [aging] at all — I think I look pretty good now."

This wasn't the last time Boyle would speak out on the challenges she and other women have often faced in Hollywood. Flash forward to when the #MeToo movement became mainstream in October 2017 after countless sexual misconduct allegations broke against several powerful men in showbiz, including convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein. Around that time, The Hollywood Reporter asked the actress whether she had also been "mistreated" in her career. "Oh, all the time ... It happens all the time," Boyle replied. "I looked at it on two levels: Do I want to flip burgers, or do I want to put up with someone not being appropriate with me? I chose the other side." Adding that "it still stays with you," she said, "You still remember things that were not quite appropriate, but you move on and that's all you can do I guess. I support all the actresses that have come forward."

While it's hard to say whether any of these issues influenced Boyle's auditions, it's possible her career suffered due to Hollywood's rampant sexism and misogyny.

Lara Flynn Boyle doesn't look like herself anymore

It's no secret that it's difficult to be a woman and maintain a long career in the entertainment industry. Hollywood is obsessed with youthful appearances, particularly for female actors, and many performers feel that in order to stay relevant and keep booking gigs, they have to look as young as possible. And so, they undergo various cosmetic surgical procedures in search of that ingénue look. Tragically and ironically, that may often lead to actresses not looking like "themselves" anymore. As a performer's face is their singular, one-of-a-kind calling card, trying to look like their younger selves winds up leaving them unrecognizable, and then not able to capitalize on their name or acting reputation.

This may be the case for Lara Flynn Boyle. Spotted out and about in Beverly Hills in 2013, her appearance had seemingly and remarkably changed. "The actress's puffier face is prompting speculation the former Twin Peaks star may have gone overboard with cosmetic procedures," E! News reported, adding that her signature pout "now appears to be fuller than ever." Tabloids buzzed about her looks again in 2016, with the Daily Mail noting, "It seems every time Lara emerges in public, her appearance is something to cause double takes due to the noticeable change."

While the decision to have work done is a personal one, Boyle's allegedly altered appearance may have hindered her star power and rendered her even less recognizable to fans.

How Lara Flynn Boyle could stage a comeback

With more than 50 acting credits to her name, Lara Flynn Boyle has certainly left her mark on the entertainment industry. However, she's barely appeared in front of cameras in the last decade or so. As of 2020, her last credit was a supporting role in Lucky Dog, a 2015 talking dog movie, which came on the heels of relatively obscure films like the stoner horror comedy, Hansel & Gretel Get Baked, and the crime drama, Life is Hot in Cracktown. "I love a call sheet," Boyle told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017. "I go where a good call sheet takes me."

Still, Boyle is at least showing off the versatility she displayed early on in her career. Perhaps it's a return to some of those past projects is where her future fortunes lie. Mike Myers has discussed making a third Wayne's World film, which could likely include a role for Boyle as her character, Stacy. In 2019, it was announced that she'd joined the cast of the upcoming indie flick, Death in Texas, per Deadline. And with the TV world rebooting seemingly every well-known property, it's probably only a matter of time before The Practice is back on the air. 

All it takes is one great role — even a small one — in a standout television or film project to kick a career back into high gear. Besides, Boyle has what most other actors dream about: lingering goodwill from a solid resume and name recognition.