During needed times of change, people have to stretch their boundaries to see how far they can emotionally and mentally grow, and they can surprise themselves over how well they adapted to that change. That’s certainly the case with comedic actor David Koechner, who has garnered attention for his role as sportscaster Champ Kind in the ‘Anchorman’ series. While Champ and his San Diego News 4 team have yet to learn how to truly mature, despite receiving new jobs in New York City during the launch of the 24-hour national news cycle, in the anticipated ‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,’ Koechner is showcasing his diverse talents as a dramatic actor in the acclaimed new thriller, ‘Cheap Thrills.’
‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’ chronicles San Diego’s top rated newsman, Ron Burgundy (Ferrell), as he returns to the news desk. Also back for more are Ron’s co-anchor and wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), weather man Brick Tamland (Carell), man on the street Brian Fantana (Rudd) and sports guy Champ Kind (Koechner). But none of the news team will make it easy to stay classy while taking the country’s first 24-hour news channel by storm in the early 1980s in New York City.
‘Cheap Thrills’ follows Craig (Pat Healy), an auto mechanic who has lost his job. He is unable to pay his rent, and after receiving an eviction notice, he goes to a bar, where he meets a former classmate from his high school, Vince (Ethan Embry). A rich couple, Colin and Violet (Koechner and Sara Paxton), give the Craig and Vince money for completing certain tasks, which are initially simple, but become increasingly violent.
Koechner generously took the time recently to talk about shooting ‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’ and ‘Cheap Thrills’ during an exclusive interview over the phone. Among other things, the actor discussed how he was drawn to reprising his role of Champ in a sequel to the original ‘Anchorman,’ as he enjoyed working with his co-stars; how he appreciated working with the crew on both the comedy and the thriller, as he feels ‘Anchorman 2’s co-writers, Ferrell and McKay, were both inspirational leaders on the set, and Katz was a remarkable first-time director, as he had an incredible passion for filmmaking; and how he was draw to playing the character of Colin in ‘Cheap Thrills’ because he found the script engaging, and the film’s darker theme was also something he’s never explored before as an actor.
ShockYa (SY): You reprised your role of sportscaster Champion “Champ” Kind in the upcoming comedy, ‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.’ Why did you decide to reprise your role in the sequel?
David Koechner (DK): Well, the fact that it was being made was enough for me. After we finished the first one, we were all hoping that we would get a chance to do a second one. In fact, we wanted to do anything else together again. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Will and Steve since then, and it was great to also be able to work with Paul again. It was also nice to work with some of the other actors who were new to the series.
SY: The film is the much the much anticipated sequel to the 2004 cult film, ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.’ Were you always hoping to continue the series since the first film was released?
DK: Oh, absolutely. It’s a special and unique group. Something really cool happens when the four of us don those costumes again
SY: ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy’ garnered numerous quotes, with one of Champ’s most recognizable lines as “Whammy!” What does it mean to you that fans are still quoting the movie, almost a decade after its release? Do you think viewers will embrace the sequel’s lines as much as the first film?
DK: Oh, they’re rabid for it, and there’s still a hunger for it. It’s been everyone’s questions for years, not matter what I’m doing; everyone wanted to know if we were going to make another film. It’s the same for Will and Steve and Paul; we could be promoting another project, and there was always the question of, “When is there going to be another ‘Anchorman?’” It’s been clear for years that people wanted a sequel. Obviously there’s a great support for it, and people are going to be very happy when they see it.
SY: What was the process of reuniting with your co-stars from the original film, particularly Will, Steve and Paul, on the sequel? Was it easy to reignite the comedic banter you developed with them while shooting the first movie on the follow-up?
DK: It was really like hand-in-glove. Everyone’s great to work with, and there’s not a difficult personality in the bunch. The chemistry’s always been there, and it came right back. Obviously, it comes from a great script, and I knew we were going to have that. So there was no difficulty for me, personally.
SY: ‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’ also features numerous new stars who didn’t appear in its predecessor, including Kristen Wiig, James Marsden and Meagan Good. What was it like forming your working relationships with them on the set?
DK: I’ve worked with Kristen several times. She’s just delightful; that kid is a remarkable and amazing talent. So working with her was a joyful delight. Marsden is fantastic; he’s a great guy, and knocks it out of the park.
SY: The sequel follows Ron and his news team as they have a chance at redemption, as they start the 1980s in the world of the 24-hour cable news cycle. How has the team grown, and stayed the same, since they left their local San Diego broadcast?
DK: (laughs) I would say it’s more the latter; these guys don’t experience growth. They’re in a bigger pond to play in, but they’re the same guys. It’s really hard for them to evolve.
SY: Will reteamed with his co-writer from the original film, Adam McKay, to pen the sequel. What was the process of working with both Will and Adam as co-writers on the set?
DK: Will and Adam are both inspirations. They co-wrote the first film together, so it was no surprise that they co-write the second script together. They’re both leaders. McKay is such a delightful director, and is so inviting and warm and intelligent. The same goes for Will. They surprise you on how much material they keep giving you.
SY: Adam, who also directed ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,’ returned to helm the sequel. What was the process with reuniting with him as a director again on the follow-up? Do you generally prefer working with helmers who also penned the script?
DK: It’s certainly a bonus, because they know exactly what they want. But a good director is a good director. Since it’s a personal thing for him, Adam can offer an alternative for every single character in the movie, and it’s really remarkable.
SY: Would you be interested in making another follow-up if this sequel does well?
DK: Absolutely. But Will has always been reluctant to do sequels, from what I’ve understood. But these films are so much fun to make; I would definitely make another ‘Anchorman’ movie.
SY: Besides appearing in ‘Anchorman 2,’ you’re set to appear as Colin in the upcoming thriller, ‘Cheap Thrills.’ What drew you to the character of Colin, as well as the script for the film?
DK: Well, it’s unlike anything else I’ve been asked to do before, which peaked my interest. The script is real dynamite, and is a real page-turner. There wasn’t a false moment in the script. It’s a movie that engages you and pulls you in. It gets you hook, line and sinker.
SY: ‘Cheap Thrills’ features a talented cast, including Pat Healy, Ethan Embry and Sara Paxton. How did you build your working relationships with your co-stars on the set, and what was the overall process of working with them on the set?
DK: It was one of the most unique acting experiences I’ve ever been a part of. I even had to remark after the second day that something great was happening there. All those guys and girls are just fantastic. It felt like we were doing a play.
SY: The movie was the first directorial effort by E.L. Katz. What was the process of working with E.L. on the set as a first-time helmer?
DK: He was remarkable. He had an incredible passion for it. He had a remarkable process for blocking and setting up and shooting the film. It was also remarkable that as a first-time filmmaker, he was able to shoot the movie in 12 days.
It’s even more and more remarkable every time I look back on it, because it turned out so well. I was blown away by how well this movie turned out, given that it was such a modest budget, and we had no time to shoot it. There wasn’t a lot of coverage, because there was no time or money. E.L. would not do multiple takes, since there wasn’t any time or money, so we had to get it right on the first take; no one really dialed in
SY: Speaking of the fact that ‘Cheap Thrills’ had a lower budget and short shooting schedule, did that pose any challenges on the set?
DK: Well, the only difficulty was that we were shooting in September in Los Angeles, and it had been hotter than it had been all summer. We were shooting in a house that didn’t have air conditioning, so that was the greatest challenge that we had. (laughs)
SY: ‘Cheap Thrills’ has played at several films across the country, including SXSW, the Chicago International Film Festival and the Philly Film Festival. Were you able to attend any of the screenings for the film, and how did audiences react to the movie?
DK: I was shooting ‘Anchorman 2’ when ‘Cheap Thrills’ was playing at SXSW, so I wasn’t able to make it over there. But I did go to Fantastic Fest in Austin, and Drafthouse bought the film.
It was a really cool experience to watch with a crowd. I had no expectation of how they would react, and it really surprised me how engaging the movie is, and how much humor is in it. I didn’t know about the humor, and didn’t anticipate audiences laughing as much as they do. Since it’s a dark thriller, it’s really surprising how much the audiences laughed.
SY: Besides films, you have also starred on such television shows as ‘The Office’ and ‘American Dad!’ Are you interested in continuing with television in the future, and what is it about that medium that you enjoy so much?
DK: Oh, absolutely. The most enticing thing about television is that it shoots at home. For me, personally, most of it is shot in Los Angeles. I have a wife and five kids, so it’s important to me to wake up in my own bed, and wake up and see my family at night.
I hope to do a full camera sitcom. There are several things that could pop, which could be fun. It would be great for me to shoot a sitcom here in Los Angeles.
SY: Besides ‘Anchorman 2’ and ‘Cheap Thrills,’ do you have any upcoming projects lined up that you can discuss?
DK: I recently filmed an episode of ‘Justified,’ (Season 5, Episode 1-‘A Murder of Crowes,’ which premieres on January 7. 2014), which was fun. I also did a David Cross movie called ‘Hits,’ but I don’t have any information on the release date for that. There was also a film I did in Canada with Brent Butt called ‘No Clue,’ which was a lot of fun. I always try to refresh and add new material. I’m also developing several television and movie projects, so I’m just trying to stay busy.
Written by: Karen Benardello