Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Chicago Academy for the Arts

That's our lovely Lara when she was attending the Chicago Academy for the Arts in 1988. Please read the short subject published on "Teen Drama: With a TV miniseries (Amerika) already under her belt by age 17, Lara Flynn Boyle was too busy with professional gigs to participate in high-school productions. Then again, the Chicago Academy for the Arts is no regular high school; with a curriculum more Fame than formal, most students sign on in pursuit of careers in the arts. In such a competitive environment, was working actress Boyle popular with her peers? "She was such a good time, people just liked being around her," says her old acting teacher Matt DeCaro. "Of course, people get incredibly jealous, but that was their problem."

Sculptor and fellow Class of '88 alum Merrilee Cleveland agrees. "She was working on one of the Poltergeist movies [in her senior] year, so she wasn’t always in school, but I don’t think anyone minded too much."

Practice for The Practice: DeCaro says it was Boyle's sense of humor that won over her classmates and teachers. "For one assignment, I was trying to help the kids be a little more disciplined in their approach, and I demanded each come to class with a three-minute monologue memorized. If they didn't do it, I was going to give them a failing grade," he recalls. "Lara did this amazing monologue about a witness on the witness stand. It was funny, it was moving, it was poignant; it triggered tears. This was an extraordinary piece of work for a 15- or 16-year-old. But I couldn't place the play or movie it was from. I questioned Lara about it, and she did a little prevaricating, and then she said: 'I just made it up! On the spot! I got ya!' But, you know, I was always such a softie, I gave her an A anyway."

True Hollywood Story: The day after graduation, Boyle and her mother quit Chicago for L.A., where, just four months later, Boyle scored her breakthrough role as Donna Hayward in Twin Peaks. –J. W."