Whether it's the big screen, the stage or even Bristol Motor Speedway, David Keith was born to perform.
"It's always been in our family."
Like most boys, he also played sports and developed a love for Tennessee athletics early on. However, he originally dreamed of convincing a jury not an audience.
"I wanted to be a criminal lawyer."
That changed with a part in a local production of "The Music Man."
"I said, 'That's what I was looking for!'"
David was bitten by the acting bug. He enrolled at the University of Tennessee and the Clarence Brown Theater Company.
"I thought gosh, I'm not like anybody in the world until I got to the theater department at UT and found that there were a lot nuts like me out there."
Just 12 hours shy of graduation, he moved to New York City.
"I saved up $600, went to New York and slept on a friend's couch."
He called fellow Knoxville native and actor John Cullum about a play he was directing.
"He said, 'I can get you the audition, but I can't get you the part.'"
Not only did he get the part, Keith got an agent and small parts in sitcoms including "Happy Days."
"I got a part in "Happy Days" running against Richie Cunningham for class president. My platform was shorter classes and beer on campus."
Then, movies followed. Keith landed small roles in "The Rose" with Bette Midler, "The Great Santini" with Robert Duvall
and "Brubaker" with Robert Redford.
"After "Brubaker" I started getting recognized for the first time."
And then, "Officer and a Gentleman."
"I auditioned for Geer's role. So, when I got the word that I'd gotten Sid's role I was disappointed."
He had no idea how the part would change his life.
"I couldn't go anywhere. I couldn't go to a restaurant."
It was definitely his break-out movie. Keith is still quizzed about his character, Sid.
"People come up to me and say, 'Did you really swallow the ring?'"
Shortly after, roles found him...
Elvis in "Heartbreak Hotel."
"It was an opportunity to be a rock star."
"The Two Jakes"
"Jack Nicholson was my hero."
And "Behind Enemy Lines" just to name a few. He'll never forget his scene with Gene Hackman.
"That was, as an actor, the greatest 3 hours of my 35 year career."
Still, he loved to come home especially to Neyland Stadium.
"Football's my religion. It's too important to enjoy- Tennessee Football."
In 2001, despite agents advice, he moved back to Tennessee to raise a family.
"My agents told me it would hurt my career."
But Keith's continued to act, logging lots of TV episodic work from "CSI Miami" to "Hawaii 5-0."
"People are coming up to me now and saying, 'I love you in "Hawaii 5-0." I hope they bring you back.'"
He does have a recurring role, but leaving home is getting harder and harder.
"I even dread my next trip to Hawaii... isn't that awful. It's a 15 hour flight and I'm away from my kids a week or two."
Family is his priority along with Protect, a national organization that works to catch child predators. Politicians have taken notice. Some have even approached him about political interest.
"I have zero interest in running. I have zero interest in holding office."
... unless it would help protect children.
"That's the rest of my life, my family here and that out there, Hollywood can leave me alone and I'll be fine."
David Keith. Born in Knoxville
"There's no place in the world I'd rather live."
HomeGrown in Tennessee.