Actor, director, producer, comic-book writer and now a cinematic detective: Charles Solomon Jr. has quite the resume. He is also headed back to Hollywood this week for his next big-screen feature.
The Waxahachie native is a 1980 graduate of Waxahachie High School, and his performing experience goes even further before that, as he easily recalls starring in school plays as far back as fifth grade.
“I loved it,” Solomon recalled. “I loved the feeling I had - the work, doing the show.”
Solomon moved to Waxahachie in 1976 and continued acting in Waxahachie High School until he was cast as the lead in the senior play. His uncle recommended that he apply for Syracuse University’s drama department, which is one of the most highly-regarded performance programs in the nation, according to the Backstage magazine.
Solomon said the department accepted 60 students into the program, and he wasn’t expecting to be one of them.
“They told me I was one of their top choices,” Solomon recalled. “I said, ‘If they like me that much, then that’s what I need to do.’”
When Solomon first started acting professionally, he bounced around smaller productions around the Dallas-Fort Worth area. One of his first uncredited appearances was in the historical drama, “1918,” filmed in Waxahachie.
In fact, four of Solomon’s 29 big-screen credits to date were filmed in Waxahachie. One of those was the 2007 action-thriller, “Missionary Man,” starring Swedish actor Dolph Lundgren in the titular role. Solomon auditioned for the role in Los Angeles, having no idea where the production was planning to film the project.
“I asked them where they were going to shoot this?” Solomon recalled. “They said ‘Oh, some little podunk town called Waxahachie.’ I started laughing. I couldn’t believe it.”
Solomon also produced and acted in two other features in Waxahachie – “Last Fair Deal” and “Mangus!" Solomon directed the former.
Having worked in the industry for over 25 years, Solomon said directing was easily the hardest job he’s ever had to handle, explaining that your attention is split between so many details at once that its difficult to focus on the task at hand.
“It’s part of why you don’t see too many directors over the age of 50,” Solomon remarked. “It’s so much work, it just wears you out. You have to control over 40 people, you control all the departments, everybody’s coming to you with a problem all the time. It’s so hard.”
He has also written two comic-books, one gangster drama titled “The Nine Lives of Herbert Noble,” and “Get Gomez!”, a children’s book which he hopes to adapt and possibly film in Waxahachie.
Solomon’s most recent film, a science-fiction movie, “Attack of the Unknown,” tells the story of a SWAT team and a crime boss who found themselves trapped in a detention center during an alien invasion.
Solomon plays a character named detective Mills, who is trying to survive against the aliens alongside other human survivors. He co-stars with actors Tara Reid and Robert LaSardo, who last played a drug dealer in Clint Eastwood’s 2018 drama, “The Mule.”
“Some kid asked him ‘What’s your favorite part of acting?’” Solomon recalled. “He said ‘When the shoot is over.’ That’s so true.”
Even with all of his years of experience, Solomon said he still gets nervous sometimes while working on a production. He added that, sometimes, he’d repeat his lines over and over again to remember them, only to forget them the minute he goes on-set.
“You rip your own psyche apart, and then you put it back together,” he expressed. “You show up, they do your makeup, get your hair done, get your wardrobe down, then it gets real – because they call you on-set. You’re terrified you’re going to screw it up.”
He said working with his co-stars helps a lot with getting over the nerves and getting to the heart of the role.
“You find the life of the character while you’re rehearsing with the other actors – because they give you stuff to work on and you give them stuff to work on,” Solomon expressed.
Solomon was selected by the Waxahachie High School Ex-Students Association to be inducted into the Fine Arts Hall of Fame during their ceremony last year. Fine Arts Hall of Fame chair Margaret Felty said he was nominated and selected for his involvement in the film industry and his involvement with fine arts in Waxahachie.
“I knew him early on because he was in Community Theater in Waxahachie,” Felty expressed. “He was heavily involved in theater arts.”
While show business is hard, Solomon said he'd had an exciting and rewarding career so far. He said he looks out for where his next role – and adventure – will come from.
“You get burned out because you’re constantly hearing ‘No,’” he expressed. “But when you’re working in it, it’s the best business in the world. I wouldn’t know what else to do.”