The 2004 film “Sons of Provo” contains a scene in which three musicians — Will, Danny and Kirby — struggle to think of a name for their band.
After much deliberation, Kirby suggests a simple label: “Everclean.” He thinks his comment has gone unnoticed until a few seconds later, when Will repeats “Everclean” as though he’d come up with it himself. As Danny lauds Will’s ingenuity, a visibly frustrated Kirby can only manage a half-hearted assent for the praise that should have been his.
Well-known LDS actor Kirby Heyborne portrayed the character who shares his name, and this scene is legendary in his house.
“It’s my kids’ favorite,” Heyborne said in an interview with The Universe. “Whenever someone in our family feels like they’re being ignored or they’re not being heard, they just have to say ‘Everclean’ and we all know what they’re talking about.”
In the early 2000s, a wave of Mormon-themed films took the church media scene by storm — and Heyborne was the leading man. Today, his performances are remembered by BYU students as “genuine,” “moving” and “hilarious.”
“Mormons still recognize me all the time,” Heyborne said. “I love it, because everywhere I go, people are automatically friendly. They’ve seen me in these movies and they already care for me.”
Heyborne was an actor in high school but parted ways with the craft after graduation. “I thought I was done acting,” he said. “But it didn’t really work out that way.”
During college, Heyborne played in a popular local band that was hired to do an acting show in Park City. After the show, he was told that he should get an agent. He spent the next few months appearing in commercials and doing auditions, including one fateful tryout for a supporting role in an upcoming LDS-themed comedy.
“The Singles Ward,” released in 2002, was Heyborne’s first movie, and it was a hit. Displaying a genuine innocence and good-natured humor that would become a staple of his characters, Heyborne played Dalen Martin, an eager prospective missionary with an affinity for Mormon folklore.
It was all uphill from there. Heyborne’s next project was a starring role in a wildly successful comedy, “The R.M.” Shortly thereafter came “Saints and Soldiers,” “The Book of Mormon Movie” and “Sons of Provo.”
His crown jewel, though, was his brilliant performance as the wide-eyed Elder Calhoun in “The Best Two Years.” Heyborne’s presence in Mormon films became so reliable that in “The Singles 2nd Ward,” one character joked that Heyborne had “been in every LDS movie ever made.”
But even in the midst of his newfound rise to fame, Heyborne’s public persona always took a backseat to his private life. A devoted family man, Heyborne has been married to his high school sweetheart for 18 years. Together, they have three children.
The Heybornes enjoy camping, whitewater rafting and taking an annual summer trip to the Tetons. “We have our own life, our own little world,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s a dual life, but I love keeping my family separate. They’re just mine.”
Though they’re at the top of his priority list, Heyborne’s wife and children aren’t the only people he cares about. An accomplished musician, he once played a concert for Taylor Montierth, a teenage girl who won a contest.
BYU sophomore Emily Sheffield, a friend of Montierth’s, who attended the private event, has been effusive in her praise of Heyborne ever since.
“He is so sincere and down-to-earth,” she said. “I talked to him for a long time, and I always go to the shows he plays in Utah now. After his shows, he’ll take time for every person that wants to talk to him — and he actually gets to know people. It’s very impressive.”
Montierth also noted Heyborne’s humble, easygoing demeanor. “He cares so much about everyone around him, especially the people who come out to see him,” she said. “He’s genuinely interested in others.”
Despite this, not every word said about Heyborne has been kind. He smoked a cigarette in his 2003 film “Saints and Soldiers” and appeared in a Miller Lite commercial a few years later — decisions which were highly scrutinized by his primarily Mormon audience. He received countless emails informing him that he was a bad example for children, an apostate from his faith and most certainly going to hell.
But Heyborne doesn’t let the criticism get him down. “Everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I feel like a stronger person because of the things that have happened to me. People could only see one side of (these controversies), but that’s OK. It’s helped me learn to be a good member of the church on the inside, and it’s made me a better disciple of Christ.”
Heyborne’s focus is on his faith and his family. But he’s still acting too; he regularly appears in commercials and he starred in the 2012 nationwide release “The Three Stooges.” He’s also branched out into the world of audiobook narration. He has recorded approximately 350 books, won major awards and is one of the most sought-after voices in the industry today.
But no matter where Heyborne goes in the future, many Latter-day Saints will always remember him as Elder Calhoun from “The Best Two Years.”
“That movie has stuck around … and I think a big part of it is that Elder Calhoun was such a great guy,” he said. “He had no desire to be above anybody else. He had such a genuine love for people, and he wanted to help others be happy.”