Whatever Happened To Lara Flynn Boyle?

Hollywood has always been home to young actors trying to break into show business. In the '90s, one of those prominent young faces was Lara Flynn Boyle, who debuted in films such as "Poltergeist III" and "Terror on Highway 91" before experiencing a meteoric rise that rivaled the likes of notable actresses like Winona Ryder and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Aside from her earlier work, most people may know her as Donna Hayward from "Twin Peaks." After accidentally believing she was auditioning to play the deceased character of Laura Palmer, Boyle successfully starred on the TV series from 1989 to 1991.

As a result, Boyle was a heavily sought-after actress, starring in '90s movie classics such as "Wayne's World" and "Red Rock West." Her success followed her into the 2000s, where she racked up more notable acting credits on TV series such as "The Practice," "Huff," and "Las Vegas." Like her contemporaries, however, the glitz and glamour of fame were oftentimes followed by prying cameras and scandalous headlines. So much so that it inevitably created a distance between her and Hollywood. 

As time went on, Boyle's acting gigs grew fewer and farther between. Which begged the question: Whatever happened to Lara Flynn Boyle? Although Boyle has since subjected herself to a life free from social media, she isn't completely off the grid. From getting married to returning to the big screen in 2021, here is everything you need to know about the actress and her whereabouts!

Lara Flynn Boyle got fired from a hit TV series in 2003

If you don't know Lara Flynn Boyle for playing Donna Hayward on "Twin Peaks," then you may know her for playing Helen Gamble on the legal drama "The Practice." From its premiere in 1997, Boyle's fame was further solidified as the show grew in popularity. The series went on to win Golden Globes, Primetime Emmys, and many other awards. Boyle's performance on the long-running show also earned her a slew of award nominations.

After six years on the ABC series, things took a turn for the worse when its showrunners decided to make cuts from its main cast for presumed budgetary reasons. The cuts included Boyle, who, according to a 2003 article by The Age, was unhappy with their decision to let her go. "We gave our heart and soul to 'The Practice' and we were dispensed of for whatever reason there is. We didn't make any decision," she stated. "We had a decision that was translated to us. ... I always think honesty and being upfront with people is the best way to be correct. In this situation, that did not happen." 

However, this didn't stop Boyle from finding work, and she went on to play further recurring roles such as Melody Coetar on "Huff" and Monica Mancuso on "Las Vegas." Despite Boyle's success, this appeared to be one public instance when she faced unfair treatment in Hollywood.

She starred alongside Will Smith in a well-known franchise

In 2002, Lara Flynn Boyle got to expand her acting range and star alongside Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in "Men In Black II." Her character Serleena Xath — an alien masquerading as a Victoria's Secret model — was the film's main antagonist. According to her interview with The Seattle Times, her role as a villain shared some similarities with the characters she normally portrays. "I play a lot of strong women and a lot of smart women now," she expressed. "A lot of times that translates into being the villain. But there's a strength there when you're portraying someone bright that's very empowering."

Despite her being a highly successful actress in her own right, Boyle gushed over being in the same movie as two acting icons. In a 2002 interview with Dark Horizons, Boyle made sure to give them their flowers. In addition to complimenting Jones on his masculine persona, she praised Smith for his infectious personality on set. "I think the main reason he is a movie star is that you want to be around him, and there's a lot of great actors out there, but you know, if you're going to spend three and a half months with somebody whose awful or if you're going to spend three and a half months with somebody that's really nice to be around, it's because it's magic that they bring every day with them, you want to be around that," she said.

Lara Flynn Boyle got caught up in a love triangle with David Spade and Jack Nicholson

Lara Flynn Boyle's personal life slowly became a talking point for several publications and media outlets. One of which happened to be her lengthy dating history, for which she was judged negatively. According to a 2001 interview by The New York Post, Boyle's past partners included former co-star Kyle MacLachlan, Richard Dean Anderson, David Spade, and most notably, Jack Nicholson. Boyle addressed the harsh criticism of her dating multiple partners, ruling it an unfair double standard women face. "Women are judged differently," she iterated. "If a guy is young, somewhat successful, and going out and being seen with women, it's no big deal."

Though her views on dating were progressive at the time, information regarding her connection to Nicholson didn't paint her in a positive light. In a 2015 interview with Details, Spade said that Boyle and Nicholson began dating while Spade was still in a relationship with her. While the three were at a party, Nicholson boldly asked Boyle out in front of Spade, which he allowed due to his lack of influence at the time. Despite Boyle initially rejecting his advances, Spade later learned from the National Enquirer that Boyle was cheating on him when she and Nicholson were spotted together after getting into a car accident. "That's how I found out," he stated. "She and I didn't talk too much after that."

She married Donald Ray Thomas in 2006

As someone who's notoriously been linked to several celebrities, Lara Flynn Boyle faced her fair share of media outlets trying to get the scoop on her relationships. Though she'd previously stated that there's nothing wrong with dating multiple people at the same time, this came after the failure of her first marriage. After divorcing John Patrick Dee III in 1998, it would take eight years for the "Twin Peaks" star to feel comfortable tying the knot again. 

In 2006, Boyle married real estate investor Donald Ray Thomas. In hopes of keeping her personal relationship away from the public eye, the two held a ceremony in the backyard of Thomas' home in San Antonio. According to Star Magazine, a source close to the couple told the publication that Boyle appeared to be in good spirits. So much so that she "could barely breathe," as was Thomas. "She was beaming, and he was full of energy, kept going on and on about how happy he was," the source said. This surely must have been a breath of fresh air for the actress. She could enjoy spending time with her significant other without worrying about public attention.

Lara Flynn Boyle was set to star in her own reality show in 2010

2010 was a slow year for Lara Flynn Boyle on the acting front. After making a guest appearance in "Law & Order" and starring in a movie called "Life Is Hot in Cracktown" in the few years prior, Boyle still had a foot in the acting world. Online sources, however, began to come out with information regarding a future project that perplexed many of her fans. According to Deadline, Boyle was set to star in her own reality show.

Reality shows are ventures in which celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, and Jessica Simpson usually see success. Although Boyle is usually on the receiving end of public slander — which probably could've made for great television — publications and fans alike were quick to predict its failure. Boyle, who was relatively private about her life, didn't seem to fit the standard of success set by her reality show counterparts. This didn't stop the show from getting confirmed and set to premiere on the E! network. 

Reports claimed that the series was set to follow Boyle and her husband, Donald Ray Thomas, as she navigated life as an actress and a dedicated wife. With an already sketchy premise, the show appeared to have been canned by the network, and news of the show didn't get past rumors and online sources.

She struggled to find roles as an older actress

The 2000s served Lara Flynn Boyle well, and she was able to find work in notable films and TV series alike. Her acting gigs, however, slowly became short-lived and nonexistent. Aside from her inclusion in comedies like "Baby on Board," and "Cougar Hunting," Boyle began taking on fewer roles. After 2015, it was clear that Boyle was distancing herself from Hollywood because it was the first time Boyle went years without appearing on the big screen. While one can assume that her well-needed break was due to the excess of public attention, it's also safe to assume that the roles pitched to her started to look different as she matured. 

Boyle only brought truth to this notion in 2010 when she sat down for an interview on the Norwegian TV series "Gylne Tider" to reminisce about her journey as an actress. While discussing her run as Donna Hayward on "Twin Peaks," Tider asked Boyle about the difficulty of finding roles as an older woman. Despite the fact that Boyle was still relatively young — only 40 years old at the time of the broadcast — she noted that there are times when her age affects the roles given to her. "I try not to think about it every day. The roles are just not very plentiful once you hit a certain age," she responded. "You know, that's just an obvious thing. So, you got to beg for something."

Lara Flynn Boyle opened up about harassment in the film and TV industry

Judging by the treatment Lara Flynn Boyle got from several public outlets, why she keeps her personal life to herself is understandable. That, however, is one of the many catalysts for celebrities going radio silent after attaining fame and fortune. In many cases, the industry actors grew passionate about may send them into a spiral of despair. Whether it's hectic schedules or money-hungry execs, there has always been a trade-off for being an entertainer, which is something Boyle came to terms with during her lengthy career. 

In 2017, Chris Gardner from The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Boyle as she participated in the 15th annual LA County Walk to Defeat ALS. During their interview, Boyle fielded questions regarding her prior roles, lessons she's learned as an actress, and, most importantly, the horrifying truth of how common sexual abuse is in the entertainment industry. 

At the height of the notorious Harvey Weinstein allegations, Gardner asked Boyle if she was on the receiving end of predatory behavior in Hollywood, to which she responded: "Oh, all the time. All the time! It happens all the time." Boyle later added that while it's hard to process when it occurs, it usually remains a vivid memory if you're ever a victim of it. "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."

Her complicated relationship with the cast of Twin Peaks resurfaced in 2017

In 1992, a "Twin Peaks" prequel film titled "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me" was released. Through covering the events leading up to the character Laura Palmer's murder — which was the main storyline of "Twin Peaks" — fans couldn't help but notice that Lara Flynn Boyle didn't reprise her role as Palmer's best friend, Donna Hayward. 

Aside from several online theories, Boyle seemingly couldn't return due to scheduling. These rumors began to resurface in 2017 when the main cast of "Twin Peaks" came together for an Entertainment Weekly special celebrating their hit series and its then-upcoming long-awaited third season on Showtime. Boyle's absence was felt throughout the shoot, which had fans questioning whether she'd ever reprise her most notable role.

According to Sherilyn Fenn, who played Audrey Horne on the show, this may not be possible due to her alleged behavior on set. In a 2014 interview with A.V. Club, Fenn stated that Boyle was unhappy with Horne transitioning into Dale Cooper's (played by Kyle MacLachlan) love interest. Because MacLachlan and Boyle were dating, Boyle convinced director David Lynch to scrap the idea. During Fenn's 2017 appearance on the podcast "Twin Peaks Unwrapped," she said she was enraged by their decision and voiced her opinions to Lynch. "[H]is girlfriend, Lara Flynn Boyle, kiboshes an astonishing thing. ... I remember saying, 'David ... is this how it goes? An actor complains because she's the girlfriend, and then you change?'" she recalled.

Lara Flynn Boyle made her on-screen return in 2021

Aside from a few interviews, it was clear that Lara Flynn Boyle was seemingly distancing herself from Hollywood after her appearance in the 2015 film "Lucky Dog." Her absence from the acting world wouldn't last forever, as in 2021, Boyle made her on-screen return in the drama "Death in Texas." Boyle's long-awaited return was met with several publications trying to get information about her inclusion in the film. The Hollywood Reporter was one of the first of these, and the seasoned actress sat down with Chris Gardner to give some insight into the project and her well-needed break from acting. 

From discussing details about her prior roles to sharing embarrassing audition stories, Boyle appeared grateful to have been included in the film. Given the pandemic restrictions in 2020 and her time away from the big screen, Boyle told Gardner that her experience on set was nothing but positive. "It felt exactly the most brilliant way it should feel. There's no need for an alarm clock. You can't wait to get to set. You can't wait to show up. You hope everyone is there, with no ego. Sometimes it doesn't happen that way, but you pray for it," she replied. "On this, no ego, everyone wanted to make a movie. We weren't trying to prove anything. ... I know this sounds like a very typical quote, but seriously, when you go back to movie camp, everyone is so jazzed to be there."

She has had a love-hate relationship with fame

Lara Flynn Boyle is no stranger to public attention. From facing backlash for wearing a tutu at an award show to being deemed a homewrecker due to her rumored relationship with Harrison Ford, Boyle has seen how nasty public media can be. Despite the harsh realities of fame, Boyle wasn't fazed by the slew of attention she'd received as a successful actress. In 2005, Boyle told Cosmopolitan about her views on fame. "Look, I love being famous. I'm not one of those people who feels like, 'Why won't they leave me alone?'" she stated. "If I care only about the craft of acting, I'd be doing dinner theater in Iowa."

Given her private nature, the endless parade of prying cameras and hurtful tabloids seemingly changed her views on being a celebrity. Everything from her physical appearance to prior relationships has since been a consistent talking point for several outlets. This, however, didn't leave her with any regrets. In her 2021 Hollywood Reporter interview, Boyle told Chris Gardner that while the public attention she garnered throughout her career has been harsh, she's learned to live with it because it was a life she chose. "I don't know if this is good or bad, but I have weathered the storm with a lot of negative publicity, and at the end of the day, I'll take the negative publicity and keep on rolling," she said. "It's worth it."