Updated: July 24, 2013 6:06AM
This time last year, Alexander Koch had just graduated from the Theatre School at DePaul University.
Living near St. Ben’s on the North Side, the aspiring actor baby-sat to make money. He landed a bit part in MTV’s short-lived series “Underemployed.”
“That kind of woke me up and made me realize I could stay in Chicago and continue to do these day player-type roles, getting guest star spots on ‘Chicago Fire’ and all that stuff,” said the 25-year-old native of suburban Detroit. “I didn’t want to do that. There’s so much more opportunity in Los Angeles. I knew I had to leave Chicago.”
He packed up his car, drove to California and crashed on a friend’s couch.
This next turn is bound to be the envy of every would-be actor: He auditioned for a pilot — a little Stephen King-Steven Spielberg CBS project called “Under the Dome” — and got the part.
“Literally it was his first [pilot] audition,” said showrunner Neal Baer (“Law & Order: SVU,” “A Gifted Man”). “It’s great to have a fresh face, someone you don’t know.”
Koch plays Junior, a troubled young man obsessed with a girl he grew up with in the town of Chester’s Mill.
“He has two different personas,” Koch said. “He’s this person his father very much wants him to be: the jock, the town football hero. But deep down, he had a very rough childhood, and he’s still recovering from that.”
“Under the Dome” creator Brian K. Vaughan described Junior as an unstable guy with a dark side who can put on a bright face.
“We really needed an actor with a lot of dimensions,” Vaughan said. “Alexander blew us all away.”
Relocating to L.A. turned out to be a smart career move, but it wasn’t easy to leave Chicago, a place Koch said will always be his second home. He’s looking forward to coming home in August to visit friends and go to Lollapalooza.