University of Vermont

Vermont Quarterly

The Call of the Wild

Mark (Heidrich) Boone Junior
Mark (Heidrich) Boone Junior ’77

DEPARTMENTS/
ALUMNI PROFILES

The Call of the Wild

by Benjamin Gleisser

Mark Heidrich became a different person thirty years ago. While walking his dog in Battery Park in New York City, he stopped at the World War II memorial and gazed for a few moments at the Statue of Liberty, which was framed between two large concrete slabs. Names of fallen servicemen were inscribed on the blocks. He looked away from Lady Liberty, then saw the words that changed him.

“At my eye level was the name Mark Boone Junior, a member of the Air Corps from Ohio,” he remembers. “I just took the name. I was born in Ohio, and the name reminded me of Daniel Boone, which evoked the outdoors. I love being out in the wild. And I kept the ‘Junior’ as a nod to my father; it’s my way of saying I am not alone in the world, even though I took another man’s name.”

Boone gives a good-natured laugh. “Besides, everyone always mispronounced Heidrich. Now, everyone calls me ‘Boone.’ Even my parents.”

The burly Boone lives up to his image of the wild man on the television show “Sons of Anarchy,” in which he plays Bobby “Elvis” Munson, the treasurer of an outlaw motorcycle club. Violent one moment and conscientious the next, Bobby is just as adept at shooting a pistol as he is doing Elvis impersonations at kids’ parties.

“He’s an interesting character,” Boone says from his California home. “He was written to be funny and also very serious. (Series producer/writer) Kurt Sutter has an uncanny knack of finding something interesting in the characters. My character sees that everyone has problems being good or bad. Personally, I don’t think people are inherently evil, yet I don’t know they’re inherently good, either. It’s a struggle that everyone engages in every day.”

Boone was attracted to the part because he loves motorcycles; however, he is anything but the outlaw living on the edge that he plays. He has a generous laugh and loves to be out in nature. He recently leant his name to Project Mustangs, a non-profit group that recently worked to try to save from slaughter a herd of thirty-seven wild horses in Wyoming captured by the US Bureau of Land Management.

“Wild horses are unbelievable, fantastic creatures,” he says. “Looking into their eyes is like looking into the soul of the universe. So far, we’ve been able to buy back fourteen of the younger ones. They’ve been adopted to good homes, but I’d prefer to let them loose again.”

While at Vermont, Boone was an art major who spent most of his time doing ceramics at Williams Hall. He was also a member of the soccer team, and helped take the Catamounts to the NCAA tournament one year.

After graduation, he and his dog—a wolf-dog mix—moved to New York City and joined the downtown art scene. “At the time, the city was going bankrupt, so there were a lot of empty apartments in the East Village,” he remembers. “I met filmmakers, writers, painters, photographers, theatre people. Filmmakers kept asking me to be in independent and art movies. A lot of them were low— and I mean super-low budget movies. But I always liked to help people do what they wanted to do. Any way I could be helpful to people.”

He moved among people who were close to Andy Warhol and performed cabaret-like shows with skits in nightclubs as ‘Steve and Mark’ with Steve Buscemi (“Boardwalk Empire”). After a few years, he moved to Los Angeles and acted in movies including Die Hard 2, 2 Fast 2 Furious, and Batman Begins, and had cameo roles in TV shows like “Seinfeld,” “Law & Order” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” 

“I did a “Seinfeld” episode in 1992, and then during the show’s last season (1998), I got called in for an audition for every episode, and they never hired me,” he says with a laugh.

Boone won the role on “Sons of Anarchy” in 2008, and the show is now filming Season 7, which he has been told will be its final season. He recently filmed a comedy pilot for a new series about a dysfunctional family with actress Brooke Smith (“Gray’s Anatomy”). His succinct description at the International Movie Data Base (imdb.com) says, “Trademark: messy hair and beard.”

“I wouldn’t call my hair messy,” he says with a grin in his voice. “I get a lot of very positive reaction from women about my hair. And my beard—I don’t like to shave. Bobby’s beard has become a whole other creature unto itself.” 

Next Alumni Profile

Contact UVM © 2018 The University of Vermont - Burlington, VT 05405 - (802) 656-3131