In the 1990s, Lara Flynn Boyle was one of the most recognizable actresses on television. She starred as Donna Hayward in the cult classic Twin Peaks, and later went on to play Assistant District Attorney Helen Gamble on The Practice. With her striking looks, dark arched eyebrows, and acting talent, Boyle seemed poised to become a major star. However, in the decades since, Boyle has virtually disappeared from the public eye.
In this article, we’ll take a look at Lara Flynn Boyle’s career, examine her retreat from fame, and see what she’s up to today.
She was born March 24th, 1970 in Davenport, Iowa to parents Sally Flynn and Michael Boyle. She and her mother moved to Chicago when she was just six years old, where she would later graduate from The Chicago Academy of the Arts, a performing arts High School.
Her first role was a character named Heather in John Hughes classic 80s film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), but her scenes were cut from the final version.
Her first major role was as Jackie Bradford in the ABC miniseries Amerika (1987), a show portraying the American spirit 10 years after the coup d’etat of the Soviet Union. She played the teenage daughter of one of the Soviet’s trusted American county officials.
Lara Flynn Boyle’s major claim to fame is playing Donna Hayward in Twin Peaks (1991). Twin Peaks is a television show directed by the experimental film maker David Lynch.
The show is about an FBI agent sent to investigate the murder of a high school student named Laura Palmer in the quaint town of Twin Peaks.
While investigating he uncovers a web of secrets that shock the otherwise peaceful town.
Donna Haward is Laura Palmer’s best friend and spends the majority of her time trying to figure out what happened to Laura on her own.
Why wasn’t she in the third season of Twin Peaks?
Boyle was in all 30 episodes of the original series but failed to return for the recent Showtime series Twin Peaks (2017) which acted as the show’s third season.
Notably, Boyle didn’t appear in the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992), she was replaced with Moira Kelly.
Though an exact reason for her lack of appearances in the continuation of the series is unknown, it is rumored to be due to her real life relationship with co-star Kyle MacLachlan, who played Agent Dale Cooper.
Boyle dated MacLachlan from 1990-1992 and it is suspected she didn’t return to reprise her role as Donna Hayward to avoid being around him.
And according to another co-star Sherilyn Fenn, who played Audrey Horn, a potential romance between Agent Dale Cooper and Audrey Horn was written out of the script per Boyle’s request because of their relationship.
In the book Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier, written by one of the co-creators of the show Mark Frost, Donna eventually moved to New York City and married a venture capitalist after pursuing a career in modeling. She became addicted to drugs and alcohol there.
Later she divorced her husband and moved back in with her father, who lived in Connecticut, and studied to become a nurse.
What did she do after Twin Peaks?
After her role in Twin Peaks, Boyle went on to star in the Emmy award winning primetime drama The Practice, where she was nominated for an Emmy herself.
She also starred alongside Nicolas Cage in the 1993 film Red Rock West. And she was the antagonist Serleena in the film Men in Black II (2002).
During the 2000s she appeared in sporadic acting roles, and in 2010s she only earned three acting credits. From 2005-2006 she would have an 8-episode stint on the TV series Las Vegas, which also starred Nikki Cox.
Some believe it was due to the drastic difference in her appearance because of the plastic surgery Boyle underwent to be able to compete with younger actresses.
Boyle has stepped out of the spotlight in recent years and taken on fewer roles.
What is Lara Flynn Boyle Doing Now?
In the last decade, Lara Flynn Boyle’s acting credits have been sporadic. Her most recent role was a 2020 appearance in the drama Death in Texas. She played the supporting role of Grace. Prior to that, Boyle had small roles in a few low-budget films. In the 2015 family film Lucky Dog, she played a character named Ms. Donley.
In a rare interview with The Hollywood Reporter in reference to her most recent acting credit, Death in Texas, she’s asked if she is making a comeback.
She replied saying she didn’t go anywhere and went on to express how much she enjoys B-movies and hopes to act in more of them.
Boyle, who has kept a low profile in recent years, was spotted running errands and doing household chores on her 53rd birthday.
Aside from her relationship with Kyle MacLachlan, Boyle was involved in a high profile love triangle between comedian David Spade and Academy Award winning actor Jack Nicholson.
While Nicholson and Boyle haven’t commented on the relationship, Spade told the press that Nicholson hit on Boyle in front of him.
Their relationship came to light after Nicholson and Boyle were in a car crash together, and allegedly Boyle climbed through the sunroof of the car to avoid being seen with Nicholson. Boyle is now happily married to Donald Ray Thomas II, a real estate investor.
She is no stranger to bad publicity, from highly publicized love triangles to tabloid coverage of plastic surgery, she has “weathered the storm,” per her own words.
While she compared the paparazzi to bloodthirsty mosquitoes, she said “I chose this profession. I would be a total jerk if I complained about it. If I’m going to take the paycheck, I’m also going to take the bad publicity.”