David Koechner is best known as Champ Kind, the lovable, misguided, socially inappropriate member of the Channel 4 news team in the Anchorman movies. In honor of the Blu-ray release of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues this week, Nerdist spoke with Koechner and got some insight into the process of working with Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, where a character like Champ Kind comes from, and what the actor has coming up next.
Anchorman 2 hit theaters last December and the Blu-ray release sees the film packed with enough material for what could be considered a completely different movie. How does something like that come about during production? Koechner explained, “We knew that there was no way that all the material we were generating could fit into one movie. In fact, at one point we were lobbying Adam and Will to Kill Bill the picture, release it in two parts, and they kind of liked the idea but they realized that the audience wasn’t going to have it, so I’m so thrilled that there’s an opportunity for everybody to see all the work that we did and, you know, see all the fun we had.”
As a performer, it has to be a challenge to come up with a completely different joke for each take of a scene, but that seems to be par for the course when working with Adam McKay and Will Ferrell. What is the experience like working with those two? Said Koechner, “Adam and Will are two of the most brilliant and fertile comic minds I’ve ever come across and that also extends to Steve [Carell] and Paul [Rudd] and Christina [Applegate], so you know you’re just blessed with all this talent, it’s not work, its just play, and you’ve just gotta keep playing and you’re capturing it on film, so it’s actually kind of like that. It’s about as good a process as you can imagine. So what will happen is we’ll shoot the scene that’s completely hilarious as it’s written, and then Adam will throw out new lines of dialogue via a microphone and everyone is welcome and free to add new material that they were thinking of, so it’s really a unique process.”
If you ever get the opportunity to listen to the real David Koechner talk or give an interview, he is clearly nothing like his Anchorman alter ego. Where does a character like Champ Kind come from? “Champ was just a creation of Adam and Will, it’s all really there on the page, and, you know, sometimes you look for a little bit, signals, that other people might not pick up on. Clearly he’s a bit of a sociopath, but he doesn’t know it. He’s sexually confused, he’s a racist, he’s a homophobe, he’s a jingoist, he’s a nationalist, but at the same time he doesn’t understand that all of the things he’s doing and saying are horrible and wrong, so wrapped around all of that there’s this core of innocence, it’s really kind of strange.”
Koechner has been busy with other projects as well, including the just released independent thriller Cheap Thrills, which the actor was clearly excited about. When I told him I was a big horror fan, he replied, “If you haven’t seen it, you’re going to absolutely love it. It’s weird because it’s not a horror film. I describe it as a sinister thriller with dark comedic undertones where sex is always in play. It’s a really incredible picture. We shot it over 14 days two years ago on a really modest low, low, low, low budget in a house with no air conditioner during a heat wave which all added to this picture. It’s a first time film director, it’ll just blow you away.”
In addition to what has already been released, Koechner has a lot coming up as well, including No Clue with Amy Smart, Hits with David Cross, To Hell and Back, a stop motion animated film, and he’s also working with NBC on a variety show which will most likely debut in the fall of 2014. In the meantime, Anchorman 2 is available on Blu-ray April 1 and Cheap Thrills can be seen on VOD now. And listen to Koechner on the Nerdist podcast.