David Koechner On Anchorman 2, Working with Kelsey Grammer, and Living the Sitcom Life
It's hard to recall a recent studio comedy that David Koechner didn't pop up in. From Extract to The 40 Year Old Virgin to Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgandy, the character actor has made a career out of scene-stealing cameos aided by his drooped lip delivery and his ability to usurp laughs from his co-stars, including former Saturday Night Live co-star Will Ferrell.
Although Koechner has over 50 guest-star credits on popular television shows, the Second City veteran will mark his first role as a sitcom regular with tonight's premiere of Hank on ABC. Movieline shared some appetizers with Koechner this summer at the Television Critics Association festival, where he talked frankly to us about Kelsey Grammer, life as a working actor, and the possibility of an Anchorman sequel.
You're kind of becoming the Walter Brennan of the current generation. If you look at the number of credits you have and what you bring to your projects...you've had strong roles but usually you're just there to make the movie substantially better.
Wow. That's quite a compliment.
You've accrued a lot of television, film and stand-up experience. In addition to Hank, what kind of work excites you most?
Look, anyone who has a job in show business. as far as I'm concerned. should be grateful and I certainly am. Sometimes you have a particular goal in mind and every actor is probably different in what they think they're going to get. There have been times in my life where I've said "I just want to work." And it just happens and I work. And then there have been other times when I'm looking around and I have a wife and four children. The number one thing I need to do is provide and so other opportunities come this way or that way. And I'm so fortunate that sometimes I have choices while other times I have only what is in front of me.
And right now, with Hank in particular, working on a four-camera sitcom is the best job in show business, it really is. This one in particular happens to be eight minutes from my house. [Just take the] freeway and an off-ramp and boom, I'm in the studio. I have four kids, I need to share my life with them, I can drop them off at school and I can pick them up and it's a great job. So look, I'm very blessed to have this opportunity. I've never had a regular role on a series. I've done different guest spots or had an arc on a series years ago.
Plus, to get to work with Kelsey Grammer. So this is just another beautiful step, you never know where it's going to take you. Wow, what a great trip. I get to do this one and that one. Look at all the great guys I've gotten to work with and going all the way back to Chicago, with all the people I worked with back there. And dude, here's the thing I've realized about my path is that I will always get to work with a bunch of different great people and that's the fun of it.
I imagine that the days are shorter than doing single-camera stuff.
Are directors taking advantage of your improv experience? If they put a camera in front of you, you're going to say something crazy eventually; are you encouraged to do that or is it more of a "Let's get through this" attitude?
Thus far, no, because we've worked on the pilot only and it will be up to the director. [Creator Tucker Cawley] will decide what we do show to show. The writers will get to know me and they'll see what I may or may not be able to bring them and we'll see how much they want of that. If I have a suggestion, I'm not shy. I don't mind saying, "Hey Tucker, what do you think about this?" If he says "No," it's his show, I don't care. I think if it's strong enough and you've got time to rehearse and rehearsal is a time to offer something new, and if it's accepted, "Great." If it's right, we'll all know it. If it's wrong, we'll all know it. And so far, in the pilot, we only had one week and you've got a lot of pressure to get this one thing down. As the show rolls on, I'm sure we'll have more opportunities to play.
One last question: Anchorman sequel. Anything you know about that?
I hear that it's probably going to happen. What have you heard about it?
Just things I've read online, that it's in development. Nothing specific. You never hear the words, "There is a script."
So what you've heard is correct. That's all I know.
OK, good. Because you would need to know about those things.
Exactly, but things look favorable. All of us are equally excited to do it. ♦