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Kirby Heyborne is living the dream even if that dream means fighting Los Angeles traffic.
"I'm just so happy that I get to do this," said Heyborne, on the phone while driving on the freeways of Los Angeles. "I find joy in the 405 traffic, thinking, 'I'm in traffic in Los Angeles because I was just working.' "
Heyborne, who was born in Evanston, Wyo., and grew up in Sandy, has for the past 8 1/2 years been a workaday actor in Los Angeles, going to auditions and taking roles where he could find them. Before that, Heyborne's face was gracing the DVD shelves of many Mormon homes having starred or co-starred in LDS-themed films such as "The Singles Ward," "The R.M.," "The Best Two Years" and "Saints and Soldiers."
This Friday, the biggest role of Heyborne's career will hit the nation's movie screens, in the Farrelly Brothers comedy "The Three Stooges: The Movie."
It's a career break that the 34-year-old Heyborne whose shaggy blond looks suggest a younger, goofier Owen Wilson owes to a beer commercial. (Don't tell his bishop.) Heyborne worked with Peter Farrelly (who with his brother Bobby directed "There's Something About Mary") on a Miller Lite ad.
"We fell in love with each other," Heyborne said. "Well, I mostly fell in love with him."
Heyborne knew the Farrellys were working on a movie reviving the classic slapstick of the Three Stooges, but thought, "There's nothing in it for me."
"Next thing I know, I'm driving down the 405 and I get a call from Peter Farrelly," Heyborne said. "He said, 'We want to see you for something.' I said, 'OK, Pete!' "
Heyborne read for, and got, the role of Teddy, who grew up in the same orphanage as Larry, Moe and Curly (played by Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos and Will Sasso). Teddy, the only orphan ever to get adopted from the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage, is reunited with the Stooges as adults.
Heyborne is the movie's straight man to the Stooges' antics. It's a departure from his TV commercial work (like that Miller Lite ad), where he usually plays the funny one.
The straight man doesn't get much glory, but he's an important part of comedy, Heyborne said. "The straight person may not get all the laughs, but they definitely are setting up the other person to soar," he said.
For Heyborne, who watched "The Three Stooges" shorts as a kid and the Farrellys' "Dumb and Dumber" as a teen, working in a Farrelly version of the Stooges was almost too good to be true.
"If you would have told me when I was 14 years old, after watching 'Dumb and Dumber,' [that] 'You are going to be getting a phone call from Peter Farrelly,' I wouldn't have believed it," he said. "It's a dream."
Getting to that dream has taken plenty of hard work.
Since 2003, when he moved from Utah to L.A. with his family (he and his wife now have three kids), Heyborne has had a supporting role on a short-lived sitcom ("Free Ride" on Fox) and appeared in numerous TV commercials. The ads have had him tumbling down a mountainside (for MasterCard), stuffing a hatchback full of luggage (for a Mini Cooper ad that played during the Super Bowl) and dressing in a revealing Cupid costume (for T-Mobile).
"I just did a commercial with Mario Andretti, and I'm in a Speedo," Heyborne said happily. "I'm slowly disrobing. It's all for the laugh."
After "The Three Stooges" opens, Heyborne has more gigs lined up. Two weeks ago, he filmed a guest spot on Lifetime's "The Client List," a new show starring Jennifer Love Hewitt as a madam. (Again, don't tell his bishop.)
He chalks up his success to his years toiling in low-budget Utah-made movies. "I got an education to be a film actor by being a film actor," he said. "That was my schooling, and I got paid at the same time. I learned the dance that you do with the camera, how to find your own light, how to stay out of other people's light. I learned all that on 'The Singles Ward.' And with 'The R.M.,' I learned how to be a bumbling regular guy."
While acting in Utah, he also had to hold down a day job.
"I used to be a banker at Zions," said Heyborne, who graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in economics. "I would come home unhappy every single day. It just wasn't for me. … [Now] I support my family and I get to do what I love."
Those LDS-themed movies also have given Heyborne a strong fan base in Utah.
"Who else in the industry has a whole state that's watching, and in essence, kind of cheering," he said. "There are people who are excited when I do a little guest spot. I don't know any other actor that has that. … It gives me some accountability. No matter what, I can't give up, because I've got all these people back in Utah who are cheering and hoping and praying for my success."