Darren Keefe moved to Hollywood at 22 years old to pursue an acting career. Now he's a star on HGTV's reboot of the home remodeling show.
Darren Keefe has more than 40 acting credits to his name, including appearances on "Lost" and "Sons of Anarchy."
Yet the Thomas Worthington High School graduate's biggest onscreen breakthrough to date might have more to do with his carpentry work than his acting chops.
Beginning Feb. 16, the 44-year-old was starring as a carpenter and designer on HGTV's reboot of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
It's not what Keefe expected when, at 22 years old, he left his home in Worthington, where he had lived since he was a teenager, to pursue a career as an actor in Los Angeles.
"I never would have dreamed I'd be a part of the show," said Keefe, who, in addition to acting, owns an L.A.-based woodworking business.
In the 10-episode reality series revival, hosted by Jesse Tyler Ferguson ("Modern Family"), Keefe and fellow designers Breegan Jane and Carrie Locklyn have five days to lead the renovations and remodels of homes for deserving families.
The return of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" comes after an eight-year hiatus when in 2012 its original run on ABC, hosted by Ty Pennington, came to an end. Keefe said he is honored to join the legacy of such an iconic series.
"We were all fans of the original incarnation, so it was pretty incredible to be a part of it and really carry that torch," Keefe said. "Ty Pennington and team did such an amazing job, and I think It's a little daunting to step into those shoes."
Carpentry might seem an unusual trade for an aspiring actor to master, but Keefe had plenty of experience to prepare him for the role.
Born in Northern Ireland, Keefe's love for woodworking began as a child when he built a pinewood derby racer with his father. An only child, he and his family moved to cities around the Midwest for his father's work before finally settling in Worthington when he was 13 years old.
At Worthingway Middle School, he took an industrial-arts class, where he was introduced to table saws and other woodworking tools. As a high school student, he spent his summers doing jobs for a contractor business owned by the father of one of his friends.
After graduating from high school in 1994, he took some general education classes at Columbus State Community College. But it wasn't long until he caught the acting bug and left school to pursue his passion on the West Coast.
His carpentry skills continued to improve in Los Angeles as he worked on kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects with a fellow actor who moonlighted as a contractor. In 2017, he opened his own business, Drumcree Designs, making hand-crafted furniture pieces and other commissioned woodworking projects.
"What I enjoyed most about the remodels was really the end point, the design," Keefe said. "I enjoyed pulling the colors together, picking the backsplash, the countertops; all the aesthetic parts of the design."
It's that sort of inventive and creative approach that he said he hoped to bring to "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" when he auditioned.
"I really wanted to offer innovation and unique designs to the homes whenever I could," Keefe said. "We moved at a pretty fast pace, but I think you'll see there are some very unique and original custom designs that I was fortunate enough to implement at a lot of the houses."
The recipients of the home renovations undertaken by "Extreme Makeover" aren't Keefe's typical client roster of businesses, celebrities and prominent interior designers. In the Feb. 16 premiere, for example, Keefe and his team constructed a California Spanish home for a struggling single mother and her five teenage children -- three of whom she adopted.
"It's so important to be able to jump in and help these families move forward," Keefe said. "They are paying it forward in their everyday lives, helping their community, so we are infusing the build skills and designs to help them really flourish."