North Texas may not have the hills of Hollywood, but that doesn't mean the actors who grace the stages here aren't just as talented.
We talked to six actors based in the Tarrant area about working as local theater artists. On any given weekend, these guys will transform themselves into serial killers, sensitive lovers, priests, attorneys, salesmen or any number of other entertaining characters.
And although they may be fathers, husbands and students -- and many of them have to pay the bills with what artists call a "job-job" -- they all say local theaters are their second homes.
Van Quattro, 57
From Los Angeles, where he spent much of his career playing secondary and sometimes featured roles in film and TV -- his credits include the films Fight Club and End of Days and the TV shows Prison Break, Picket Fences and Alien Nation -- Quattro moved to Fort Worth in the '90s.
The single father met and married Catherine Ruehle, bakery owner-turned-wellness coach, when they each had children at Fort Worth Country Day School. They have been married six years.
Quattro took about 10 years off from acting to be a father and recently returned to the stage (he played some hefty dramatic roles on stages in Los Angeles and studied with famed acting teacher Roy London), playing Boo Radley in Casa Mañana and Dallas Theater Center's co-production of To Kill a Mockingbird, and appeared in Superior Donuts and The Exonerated at Dallas' Theatre Three.
"I'm still reaching and growing as far as making new relationships here," he says. "I do think it's viable to work as an actor here, but I'm not closed off to L.A., either."
Damek and Derek Salazar, 21
These identical twins from Mineral Wells had plans to become architects, but then the acting bug hit.
In their senior year of high school, the drama teacher noticed these "goofy kids" and asked them to audition for the UIL one-act play selection, and it was no easy task: Molière's Tartuffe. Damek was cast in the lead role, and Derek as Cleante. They just spent two years at Weatherford College, where they had major roles in The 39 Steps and other plays, and that is where faculty member Diane Simons discovered them. Simons is costumer and producer at Hip Pocket Theatre.
The twins were in HPT's show Tom Sawyer (a banjo commedia) last month, with Derek as Tom and Damek as Joe Harper.
They have always been competitive, of course. "We were always trying to get better grades than the other," Damek says.
They'd also use their identical-twin status to help each other out. "If one of us was put in the corner as kids, we'd switch out and divide the time."
They will attend Abilene's McMurry University this fall, as theater majors. Looking back, they say, they realize they were always more cut out to be actors than anything. "Our mom was always telling us to 'go do something funny for your aunts and uncles,'" Derek says.
Bill Hass, 49
When New Jersey native Hass got out of the Air Force in his 20s, he looked at a map of Texas, saw the name "Arlington," thought it sounded like a nice place and moved there.
"I wouldn't recommend anyone does that," he says.
But, it worked out. He's an information-technology specialist for the federal government, but he uses every other waking minute to focus on his passion for acting and entertainment. He has been predominantly a stage actor, working largely at Fort Worth's Jubilee Theatre, but for the past four years has become more interested in film.
As of press time, he had no plans for upcoming stage roles. He is editing a short horror film called My Boo and working with some other producers on an upcoming Web series called Rainbow Falls, which is in the style of J.J. Abrams' mystery/thriller dramas.
He lives in Fort Worth with his wife and has seven kids -- "It's a Brady Bunch thing," he says -- and although he didn't grow up being an actor, he realizes that it was always in his blood.
"I didn't always know I was an actor," he says, "but I was one of those kids always doing something for friends when they'd come over, performing whatever I'd come up with for them. I've always been an entertainer."
As he becomes more involved with film, he says, he plans to stay in North Texas.
"I've always felt that there was going to be a generation of entertainers that came out of this area, and you're starting to see that now," he says. "I fully intend to stay here."
Andy Baldwin, 30
Baldwin, who turned 30 last month, is one of North Texas' most popular stage actors, thanks to natural skills with physical comedy. Truly one of the most naturally funny performers in town, he also has been getting into directing, and later this year he will direct three shows at Theatre Arlington: Rent, The 39 Steps and The Tale of the Allergist's Wife.
Don't count on him to fully make the move to a behind-the-scenes job, though.
"I get unhappy when I'm not onstage," the north Fort Worth resident says.
Local audiences have seen him for more than a decade performing at Casa Mañana, Circle Theatre, Stage West and other North Texas venues. He recently was in WaterTower Theatre's production of the farce Boeing-Boeing, reprising the role that he played at Circle Theatre in 2011. He followed that with an appearance in an adaptation of The Little Prince for Fun House Theatre and Film in Plano.
He is so skilled at comedy that he is a go-to actor, becoming pre-cast in shows six or more months in advance, which keeps his schedule busy. In recent years, he has tried his luck auditioning in New York.
"Well, I go up there and drink with my friends and show up to two auditions, maybe," he says. "I'm pretty happy here, though."
He recently appeared in Stage West's The Real Thing, playing a rare dramatic role.
"I would like to do more drama," he says, "but I don't go out and seek it, which I should."
Chuck Huber, 41
Huber, a Fort Worth resident and father of six children ranging in age from 1 to 23, has been one of the area's best dramatic actors for decades, frequently appearing at Stage West and Dallas' Theatre Three.
Recently, he was in the Trinity Shakespeare Festival shows, playing Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice and Sir Hugh Evans in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Currently, he is appearing in Amphibian Stage Productions' The Understudy. He is editing his first feature film, Arbor Day -- The Musical, and is director of photography for a Web series called The Troubadoors.
All of this is enough to count entertainment as his full-time job, for which he also gives his wife credit.
"It's not hard [working as an actor here] if you have an extremely gracious and patient wife who is content with simple things," he jokes. "Well, it's still hard, but no more so than going to an office every day."
Audiences recently saw him as the romantic lead in Stage West's The Real Thing, which he counts as his favorite role to date. But he says that the role he would most like to play is "grandpa."