Lifetime is bringing Anna Nicole Smith back into the public consciousness with tonight's new TV-movie Anna Nicole. Her story is one we all watched play out in the headlines, so making a film about it would seem to be a tough task for any actor. But it's not daunting for Donny Boaz. "I can't think of any other word than grateful," said the Texas native, "because of how big this story was, especially after she passed away and how shocking that was, and the huge paternity test. It's still fresh in people's minds."
Donny plays Larry Birkhead in the flick, opposite Agnes Bruckner (Murder By Numbers) in the title role, and he's no stranger to portraying true stories. "I've played several real people in films. I believe this was my third or fourth one," he explained. "[With] fiction, you get to bring something to life. When you're being somebody that's real, it's an honor because now you've got to be accurate in your portrayal of them. I just played Bill Diggins in The TLC Story, and Bill said, 'You know we're connected for life now, right?'"
Although he hasn't seen the finished film, he did point us toward one moment in Anna Nicole to look out for. "There's a point in the film [where] she had just gotten out of the hospital, and Larry gets rid of all of the pills in her life, and that doesn't make her very happy," he revealed, "What proceeds is probably my favorite scene in the movie."
Getting to work on such a sensational project is a major opportunity for Donny, but it's hardly his big break. You might not know his name, but he's been working steadily, with almost 70 projects to his name since 2003. "I love to work. I love this job," he reflected. "I think last year I did 18 films. I was doing four movies at the same time that I was doing Anna Nicole, and I didn't have consecutive days on any one of those movies. I think I've got four TV shows that are coming out in the next 30 days. That just blows my mind." Indeed, after Anna Nicole, you'll be able to see him on The Glades, Graceland and Drop Dead Diva, just to name a few.
One of the more interesting lines on his resume is his work on the critically acclaimed yet criminally terminated FOX series Lone Star. There aren't many clips still out there, but one of them features Donny as an uninvited houseguest who gets punched in the face by series star James Wolk (you can watch that here). So naturally, we had to ask him about his time on that great show. "I thought Lone Star was the ticket. It had such a real feeling when you look to your left, you see Jon Voight and you look to your right, you see Andie MacDowell," he reflected. "And then you get that depressing phone call. We shot eight episodes and they only aired two." Hopefully someday, we'll get to see the missing six.
Yet what makes Donny stand out isn't just that he's prolific - it's that he is learning just as much as he's acting. Asked what he'll take away from Anna Nicole, he doesn't talk about his own accomplishments or the potential boost to his career, but the the time he spent with the movie's hairstylist. "He took a personal interest in me and was very encouraging," Donny told us. "He said 'What I can tell about you right now is you're not present.' He said, 'Be present, learn from this moment, right here, right now.' And I took that to heart."
"People ask me what I do outside of acting. I don't do anything outside of acting," he continued. "It feels like you become this life. Because if I'm not on set, I'm traveling to the next set, or I'm studying. I love to work. I love the business. I love being on set. I want to continually challenge myself."
"And I feel blessed," Donny added. "I had a friend call me today and she said, 'People don't even book four TV shows in a year and you have four coming out in a month.' I love the momentum. But it's never enough. I always want more." Clearly, we'll be seeing plenty of Donny in the future, but here's to hoping it leads to more people recognizing what a truly passionate and hard-working actor he is.
Anna Nicole airs tonight on Lifetime at 9 PM ET/PT. You can also keep up with Donny on Twitter (@DonnyBoaz).