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David Boreanaz has been one of TV's most charismatic presences since the '90s. The star rose to prominence as Angel, the dreamy yet tortured vampire love interest in the fan-favorite show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, becoming crush material for countless viewers. Angel was so popular that he got his own spinoff series, which ran for five seasons. Then came the quirky procedural Bones, which lasted over 10 years. Most recently, he starred in the military drama SEAL Team, which will soon be airing its seventh and final season. That's a lot of popular, long-running shows in succession! Here's a look back at the best David Boreanaz movies and TV shows.
How David Boreanaz got his start
Now 54, Boreanaz originally wanted to be a football player, and was on his high school team, but soon enough, he was bitten by the acting bug. "I didn’t come from a traditional background of studying theater and doing Shakespeare," he told The New York Times. Instead, upon moving to Los Angeles, he picked up uncredited bit parts in the action movies Aspen Extreme and Best of the Best II. In 1993, he had his first TV appearance, playing a biker boyfriend of Kelly Bundy on an episode of Married…with Children.
David Boreanaz's big break: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
In 1997, a few years after his Married... With Children appearance, Boreanaz had his big break when he was cast in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As Angel, a mysterious vampire cursed to have a soul, Boreanaz brought a dark, compelling energy to the show, and his sparks with Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy helped make the supernatural drama a huge hit.
The story of how Boreanaz was cast in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the stuff of Hollywood legend: Boreanaz, still a struggling actor appearing in commercials and small plays, was out walking his dog, when he was suddenly spotted by the man who would become his manager. From there, he was invited to audition for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the rest is history.
From 1997 to 2003, the highly-influential show won over a legion of fans thanks to its witty dialogue, its novel pairing of horror and high school elements and its attractive cast. In the 20 years since Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended, it remains popular among both those who watched it when it first aired and younger viewers who appreciate the complex characters and '90s style they weren't around to witness originally.
"I was fortunate to find this show with a small character that grew into this huge cult thing. I was like, ‘Let’s ride it,'" Boreanaz told The New York Times. His chemistry with Gellar was rooted in real-life. From his very first day on set, he said she was "bubbly and energetic and very kind,” and he's described her as a "great, great person," admitting, "Without Sarah I wouldn't be standing here right now... I owe her a lot."
In 1999, Angel got his own spinoff show. Unlike many spinoffs, Angel was popular and well-reviewed, and the show ran for five years. In the show, we saw another side of the brooding vampire as he began working as a private detective and interacting with a new cast of characters (and some familiar faces from the Buffy-verse, of course), all while battling his (often literal) personal demons. Boreanaz also made appearances on Buffy after starring in Angel.
David Boreanaz movies
You might think that after Buffy and Angel Boreanaz became a movie star, but you'd be wrong. He had his first major movie appearance in the 2001 slasher Valentine with Denise Richards and Katherine Heigl, but the film had an underwhelming box office performance. His other movie appearances included little-seen titles like I’m With Lucy, The Crow: Wicked Prayer, The Hard Easy, Mr. Fix It and Officer Down. He also showed off his good looks in the music video for Dido’s hit 2003 single "White Flag."
David Boreanaz's longest-running show: Bones
In 2005, Boreanaz was cast on what would be his longest-running show, Bones. In this hit procedural dramedy, Boreanaz played FBI Special Agent Seely Booth, the foil to highly skilled forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel). Their odd-couple pairing — while Booth was more faith-based and emotional, Brennan was more scientific and exacting — and will-they-or-won't-they chemistry kept viewers coming back for 12 seasons.
Boreanaz also served as a producer on Bones and directed 11 episodes. Reflecting on his character in an Entertainment Weekly interview, he said, "Booth was a loose cannon under control. His profession made his environment unstable, but yet he had to stabilize it. He was the everyday guy. He was the guy’s guy with family, kids… He had honor. He stood for what he believed in." In other words, he was pretty much the opposite of Angel, and gave Boreanaz an excellent opportunity to show off his range.
David Boreanaz's latest TV show: SEAL Team
Just six months after Bones aired its finale in 2017, Boreanaz joined the cast of the military drama SEAL Team. The show centers on an elite group of Navy SEALs known as the Bravo Team, whose high-stakes missions take them around the world. Boreanaz stars as Jason Hayes, Master Chief Special Warfare Operator, the team leader. He also serves as an executive producer and has directed seven episodes. In 2024 the intense show will air its last season.
SEAL Team became Boreanaz’s top priority post-Bones, and the tall, chiseled actor doubled down on military-style training to get into character. "I really enjoy getting into the elements," he said to Men's Journal. "Everything that we do is to serve the story of these guys better. That is why we put in the work."
Boreanaz also wanted to show that military men are more than just tough guys. “To be able to play this role, and with this group of guys that are involved, has allowed us to really... get into these issues of what they’re struggling with and mental health," he told Entertainment Tonight. "And it’s deep and it’s scary to watch it unfold. The actual veterans that are on our show, who have suffered from these particular illnesses and have struggled with mental health, that reflects on our show and that was one of the biggest things we wanted to do. And we’ve kept it real since day one.”
While we'll be sad to see SEAL Team wrap up, we're eagerly awaiting whatever Boreanaz does next. His hit shows have come one right after the other for over 20 years — a truly impressive feat, and one that the actor doesn’t take anything for granted, calling everything he's done so far "a work in progress." Few other actors could ever make being a work in progress look so good, and we'll watch any show David Boreanaz is in!
Keep reading for more of our favorite leading men!