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David BoreanazDavid Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel make for an explosive mix on "Bones"
Tuesday 6 December 2005, by Webmaster
"Bones" Creator Hart Hanson is explaining the much-celebrated chemistry between his two stars, Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, when evidence of it comes storming through the soundstage. Deschanel is laughing uproariously at Boreanaz for doing a TV interview in a tight wife-beater T-shirt.
"I’m going to do my interview in my underwear!" Deschanel declares.
For the record, as amusing as it might have been, neither star stripped down for their interviews.
"Bones" stars Deschanel as Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist regularly recruited by the FBI to investigate murders where the corpse has significantly deteriorated. Boreanaz plays Seeley Booth, the agent routinely saddled, initially against his will, with temperamental Temperance, who he’s nicknamed Bones. A best-selling novelist, she’s withdrawn due to childhood trauma, blithely disinterested in popular culture and endlessly bemused by Booth’s machismo.
From the outset, the wittily flirtatious chemistry between Deschanel and Boreanaz won over critics and viewers. "Bones" is a solid ratings performer for Fox and only figures to become a bigger hit when, in January, it will follow "American Idol," which transformed the medical drama "House" into a phenomenon last season.
"When we saw them together, we knew we had some chemistry," Hanson says. "When we saw that, we actually changed the script. It was just a little more earnest before. There was less irony. We made it more about the two of them bouncing off each other, and that actually improved the script."
Their frisson was apparent to everyone, except the actors themselves.
"You don’t see it when you’re in it," Boreanaz confesses. "For me, it was a girl who came into a room and made me stand up from a chair, and I liked that. She took a chance, and it paid off."
"I don’t think you can plan that or figure that out, and I don’t understand it myself," Deschanel offers. "When I walked in the room and met David, it just felt right. We have some things that are opposite from each other and some things that are very similar, so we complement each other well. I can resist his goofiness, sometimes, not all. People like to see people who challenge each other, and we challenge each other as characters and as actors every day."
Both stars credit the scripting: "I think the dialogue really helps, too, because we have this bickering back and forth, and it’s kind of fiery dialogue," Deschanel says. "You can have chemistry with an actor, but it won’t come out if the writing isn’t conducive to showing that."
Boreanaz adds, "The dynamic of the dialogue, you can feel that give-and-take and that rhythm; it’s like music."
And sometimes the dialogue is pure bewilderment for Deschanel, who laughs at the preponderance of medical jargon. "I’ll have a sentence or two or a paragraph where I don’t know every other word except ’the’ and ’a’ and a verb or two," she says. "It’s like taking me to Russia and saying, ’OK, now perform in Russian." "
Though Deschanel comes from a show-biz family (father Caleb is a five-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer, and her sister is actress Zooey), "Bones" is her biggest gig to date, and she’s still adjusting. "It’s so strange," she marvels, "I have dreams where there’s a camera crew in my bedroom filming me as I sleep, and I’m, ’Just give me a moment while I get up!" "
Show business is new to author-executive producer Kathy Reichs, as well. She created the series of Temperance Brennan mystery novels that inspired "Bones" and may represent Hollywood’s strangest hyphenate - executive producer-novelist-forensic anthropologist. (She is, therefore, responsible for much of the vernacular Deschanel finds so mystifying.)
Reichs once found herself testifying at the United Nations on the Rwandan genocide; today, she’s palling around with actors poring over prop skeletons.
"It blows your mind," Boreanaz says of Reichs’ job extremes. "How do you separate the two?"
Reichs concedes it’s a curious career path, but says, "I’ve always liked doing more than one thing. I was a university professor doing forensic work, so I had my foot in two worlds there, and then it was forensics and the publishing world. Now, it’s in the Hollywood end of the mix. It is a very sharp contrast."
Reichs still does forensics work in Montreal. "I want to keep working in the lab, because that’s what gives me my ideas for my stories," she says. She allows that Temperance’s struggle for respect on the show is only slightly exaggerated: "It varies as to the attitude of the law enforcement in your jurisdiction. Some avail themselves of your expertise much more readily than others. I’ve not found that same attitude in my home state of North Carolina, so I’ve always done overwhelmingly more work outside of North Carolina."
One thing she concedes is pure fiction: Reichs has never carried a gun on a case, whereas Temperance shot a guy her first case out.
"She has the most amazing stories," producer Hanson marvels. "We ask her, ’What did you do this weekend?" We get a lot of good death stories from her, kind of horrifying things in a macabre but funny way."
Temperance’s obliviousness to pop culture comes, surprisingly, from Hanson rather than Reichs. Hanson says he thought he was riffing on some physicists he knew but learned otherwise when his sons designed his production company’s logo, which features one son asking, "What does that mean?"
"I asked, ’Did you do that because she says it in the series?" And they said, ’No, we did that because you say that all the time," " he admits. "And I had no idea. Apparently, I ask that all the time, and my kids mock me for it."
Today the cast and crew are shooting "Bones’ " Christmas episode, which finds the principal characters quarantined in the laboratory, which is adorned festively if modestly with inflated rubber gloves. Dark personal secrets will be revealed by all involved, including further background on Temperance’s loss of her parents and her tour of the foster-care system.
Boreanaz says the episode will greatly affect Booth’s relationship with Brennan. "Now that I know the specifics, it will give me better understanding as to why she shuts the outside world out so much," he says.
"A lot of things are going on in this episode that will change our relationship. Now that I know her story, she’ll open up to me more. She’s sensitive, yet she’s not sensitive, which makes her an interesting character to watch."
Which should prove to make TV’s current "it couple" cooler, or will they be hotter?
"I don’t think we’re either," Deschanel says, adding with a laugh, "I would say we’re a dorky couple."