Local man's Hollywood whim becomes a career

August 06, 2000

Local man's Hollywood whim becomes a career

By KERRI SACCHET / Staff Writer

A man sitting on a bench reading a newspaper checks his watch and moves to the other side of the bench. Without warning, a bolt of lightening strikes the seat beside him, and he continues reading as if nothing happened.


Christopher Boyer is the man on the bench, and the scene plays over and over again as the commercial for

Boyer, 40, said Wednesday that when he was growing up in Hagerstown he never imagined he would own a house in Los Angeles and have an acting career that at times required only five days of work in a year.

"It's never boring the absurdity of it is fun," Boyer said. "The weather's great, I have a house with a view of the ocean and there are 600 acres of wilderness behind me."


Before he ventured to L.A., the 1977 South Hagerstown High School graduate said he worked at jobs as varied as a tenant farmer and blacksmith before he began making 8 mm silent films with a friend.

"They were very odd, very artsy," Boyer said. "We would hit yard sales and pick up costumes on the way to the place where we would film that day."

Boyer said he began his acting/production career at James Madison University.

After changing his major from classic studies to English and then to theater, he became the man behind the scenes, building the sets and working the lights.

After taking classes on and off at James Madison from 1979 to 1988, owning a restaurant and beginning The Outer Space Theatre Company, Boyer said he went to Hollywood on a whim in 1992.

"A buddy of mine was going to Hollywood and so I sold everything I had - truck, tools, furniture," Boyer said. "I thought I would hate it."

That turned out not to be the case.

Boyer said that when he arrived in Hollywood he had a house to live in with a group of instant friends, a sauna and a Jacuzzi.

Reality kicked in, and for the next three years Boyer went from job to job while going to auditions that he had to pay $20 to $25 each to attend.

His biggest break came when he got a commercial agent and began going to auditions and reading lines to a panel of directors, producers and representatives of the companies commissioning the commercials.

"I don't practice before I have an audition because then you start reading too much into your part, which might just be saying 'Order's up,'" Boyer said.

The auditions paid off and Boyer landed roles in commercials, including some for Pizza Hut and Dr. Pepper. And for two years he played the role of a forensics scientist on the TNT series "L.A. Heat," which still airs, he said.

Looking to the future, Boyer has shot 20 hours for an independent film he's making on The Little Grill, a restaurant in Harrisonburg, Va.

"The young guy who owns the restaurant does some really neat stuff there," Boyer said. "He's held soup kitchens, given jobs to those who are in need, and it's a place where I've seen hippies, professors and all different types of people hanging out It has an inviting atmosphere."

He recently attended the Sundance Film Festival in connection with his role in the independent film "Other Voices," which he said is about deteriorating relationships.

Boyer doesn't know if he'll stay in Hollywood permanently.

"Maybe I'll sell everything and move again, but for now I enjoy what I do when I do it," Boyer said, "It's still a challenge."

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