10 Actors to Watch 2012: Boyd Holbrook

If this acting thing doesn’t work out, Boyd Holbrook has a few options to fall back on: writing, directing, modeling, sculpture and carpentry, just to name a few.

But chances are excellent that it will. Holbrook has an enviable array of projects ahead, including “The Host,” a sci-fi thriller by writer-director Andrew Niccol set for a 2013 release.

Other pics on the horizon are “Out of the Furnace,” starring Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson, and “Very Good Girls,” with Dakota Fanning and Ellen Barkin, also slated for next year. He’s in Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming biopic of Liberace, “Behind the Candelabra,” and he’s been chatting with Terrence Malick about a role.

Not bad for a guy discovered while sawing wood. No, he wasn’t sleeping. He was actually sawing wood, and hammering nails, working as a carpenter for a small theater company in his native Kentucky.

A female friend asked if she could snap his photo and send it to a New York modeling agency. That led to modeling gigs, a stay in Paris, assisting photographers, acting classes, filmmaking classes at NYU, having a show of his sculpture at a New York gallery, and even having one of his scripts snagged by indie producer Christine Vachon, with Holbrook attached to direct.

Yet many TV viewers may know him best as Cap Hatfield from the recent History Channel miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys,” which was set in the area of eastern Kentucky near his hometown of Prestonsburg.

“I was extremely interested in what it was and how this would be done,” he explains. “People are pretty cutthroat back here, pretty suspicious of people coming here. Once I read the script and looked at the people who would be doing it, I was really interested.”

Holbrook, whose dad operated a bulldozer in a coal mine for 30 years, says his family has been supportive of his career.

“I think they’re tickled,” he says, “although I don’t think my father really understood it all at first. He didn’t think it was much of a trade, but he’s happy that I’m working.”

Lucky break: “Definitely for me one of two things: Doing a pilot with Sam Shepard called ‘Tough Trade.’ He’s a hero of mine. Then working with Vera Farmiga on ‘Higher Ground.’ She was extraordinary.”

Favorite film: John Cassavetes’ “A Woman Under the Influence” and Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven.”

Career I’d like to emulate: “Sean Penn, for his acting as well as his writing and directing. There are so many actors I respect, but his reach is so wide.”

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