Final Destination 5 Set Visit, David Koechner Interview

Final Destination 5 Set Visit, David Koechner Interview
Final Destination 5 (in 3D) movie set visit report, and interview with actor David Koechner.
Updated: 07-12-2011


David Koechner is best known for his role in the American version of The Office, so it's probably not just by happenstance that he's playing a pencil-pusher at a paper factory in the upcoming Final Destination film. But instead of Steve Carrel calling the shots, it's Death himself. Check out our interview with the comedic actor, and find out who is scarier: Tony Todd, or Hannah Montana.
Q: Steve Quale told us one of the various things is that he wanted to hire comedians to play dramatic roles, versus hiring comedians to be funny. Can you talk about the development of your character and how much you were involved?
David Koechner: You know, it's written slightly humorous, but I think it's written so the humor comes from the characters as opposed to jokes, which might be the other way to bring humor.
So there aren't, y'know... It's not "clever" stuff. It all comes from a character. So it's more like someone's flaws that are fun to laugh at, as opposed to, "Meep-meep, funny line out of context!" [laughter] So things like that I think, just minor details.
We're not hitting the gas on the comedy on this one. Right?
Koechner: So it's well-put, the way he had said it, I guess. I never knew that! I just thought I
was just good enough to get the job. [laughter]
Do you think it makes the movie more human, more relatable? That the characters are a
little more human?
Koechner: Did you hear that, folks? I make movies more human! Did I hear that right?
Yes you did! [laughs]
Koechner: Here's what I think. I think that even in a drama, we're all wanting to smile, and
laugh. Because… what a horrible life if we're just like "I'm in a drama." And so
I think in everything you're trying to look for the humor, even if it's a dark scene,
because most people wanna have fun in life, as opposed to have a boring time, a
terrible time.
Yeah. Well, it makes it more relatable, the characters, rather than--
Koechner: Trying to redirect me to the question! I refuse to answer it! [laughs] More relatable!
Sure! Well, I think... Is that more relatable than someone going through a different
thing? I don't know. That's a good question. I guess that'll be for you to answer when
you see it.
...Gosh, now I feel like it's a philosophical question, and I have to come up with some
immense answer. [laughter]
Well, have you known people like the character that you play, and did you draw from
Koechner: Oh, sure. Yeah. I'm the boss of these employees, most of anyone you've interviewed, and uh... he's a bit of a prick. Yeah, I've known pricks in my life.
Oh, really? Can you name any?
Koechner: Yeah I can, but I'm not going to. [laughs]
3D is really technical. You've got to be hitting specific marks, otherwise the whole
shot can be ruined. I know that you've done some improv in this picture, and that
you're terrific at improv in general. Is it hard to do improv when you know that if you
step right over here, you've suddenly killed the entire take?
Koechner: Well, it goes hand in hand with what you're doing in a film anyway. You don't have to
be up and walking around and wildly flailing your arms, so I was able to make that accommodation. This isn't a broad comedy, so you're not necessarily bringing a broad physical aspect to it. So y'know, just like any other movie, you have to hit your mark. Do you have to be more precise in this? I gotta tell you, I didn't really notice it so much. It didn't feel like it was more constricting because it was 3D. It just takes a little longer to light; stuff like that. Other things had to be spot on like that, I think some of the physical aspects had to be spot on; some of the actors.
What was your reaction when you first heard that you were being considered for Final
Destination 5?
Koechner: Oh, I was thrilled. I've never worked in this genre. So... why not do everything, right man? I've done Hannah Montana! [laughs] That's where it comes from. I have a lot of kids, right?
Here's what I thought. At first I thought, "I dunno, do I do something like that?" then like "Why the fuck wouldn't you, man? Absolutely, do everything!" I mean, literally, I've done nearly cartoonish stuff for the Disney channel, why can't I do, y'know, a thriller?
Have you watched any of the other Final Destination movies?
Koechner: I've watched parts of it, I haven't watched a whole one. I thought I could watch them
all on up here on Netflix when I got here, but... I dunno if you guys know, but you can't stream Netflix from Canada. So one would say "You're unable to go to a video store?" and the answer would be "Yeah." [laughter] I'm that lazy.
How different is it working in horror movies? Now you're working with blood, and guts,
and other things on top of that. Is it different?
Koechner: It's fantastic. It's fantastic. Y'know what, I believe as actors we just wanna play, right? We just wanna play. Yesterday, I was in make-up for three hours. And then I had a break, and then I was back in make-up for another hour. And I was there all day long, and people were like "Is that awful? Is it uncomfortable?" and it's like "No, c'mon, man! We're actors, this is what we want to do! You just get to play, right?" So just an opportunity to work is always a treat. And if, y'know, if you get to die a couple times... c'mon, what actor doesn't want to die? This is what we all want! [laughs] These are our death scenes, right?
About the death scenes: When you found out what was going to happen with your character, did you offer any ideas, or did they just present things to you and you were like "that is fantastic"?
Koechner: Oh, it IS fantastic. You've seen all the films? They're all so specific on how the deaths come about. And they're all so wonderfully laid out, y'know, that Rube Goldberg construction. They're beautiful chess pieces that move in the right place. In this picture, they all either have something to do with the person physically, or something to do with their personality. It's really a lot of fun.
When you first got the script, did you look it over? Did you have any ideas for how to touch it up a little bit? Were you brought in for that?
Koechner: Well, I didn't know that, until I got here. That that's what they were looking for, to be honest with you; that they wanted to bring some humor. I assumed that that must be what they were looking for, because the script's not necessarily packed with jokes, and you could see where there's some possibilities for humor in there. Then it's a matter of going scene by scene, y'know, when you have that opportunity with the director, saying "Hey, how about this here," or "I was thinking this or that," and he'll, y'know, just say yes or no. And then you find out what works. You always cover the script as it is, until we know we have that, and then if he wants to allow you to play, then you
have that opportunity too. Then you have your choices; whatever's gonna work. In the ending, anyway.
Did you do any takes that were a little over-the-top?
Koechner: Oh, of course. [laughs] A "little" bit over-the-top.
Uh, yeah. I can see where Barry's like "I think I can just--" [laughs] 'Cause sometimes
you don't know, sometimes you think you're just in it. And maybe sometimes just in
life, I'm over-the-top, I don't know. [laughs] Yeah, he was very good about just gently
keeping a lid on me.
This is an R-rated film. So...
Koechner: It is?
I-I believe...
Koechner: Yeah, of course. [laughs]
You had me going for a second. I was like, "Oh, fuck..."
Koechner: Of course. [laughs]
So does that alter anything about the way you deliver a line, or do something?
Koechner: Umm... I don't really think about it. Y'know, you've got the script, right? And so...
me personally, I don't think in terms of "Oh, this is R! Let’s go balls-to-the-wall!" I think you should go balls-to-the-wall in any movie, even if it's G. That doesn't mean you have to be dirty; just do your best. Give a dynamic performance, hopefully. I can see how you might think if it's R you can get away with more "fuck"s, or, y'know, "shit"s or "goddamn"s or things like that. I don't remember thinking about it, but I'd probably think about it more if it wasn't R. 'Cause then you'd have to watch yourself a little bit more. Knowing it's R, you don't even have to think about what you might say. Y'know, if you casually slip in a "fuck you" or something. I don't even know if I did.
I haven't seen it yet.
On The Office, you played another sort of archetypal corporate prick. How does this one differ?
Koechner: Todd Packer is... incorrigible. This guy's the boss. Todd Packer's a bit unhinged,
isn't he? He's got social problems. [laughs] He's crying for help, I think. Don't you? This guy's more buttoned-down. He's just more of a hard-ass.
Are there any really bizarre similarities or differences between working on this and Hannah Montana? Can you compare and contrast?
Koechner:...Yeah. [laughs] This is for adults. That one's for kids. I tell ya, those are
interesting things to do. My daughter was, I think, 7, and I knew someone on the crew,
and so we went by to say hi. 'Cause I didn't know who Hannah Montana was; this was like
four years ago or something like that, before shit exploded. He was gonna give me
tickets, and he said "Oh, you can't get tickets anymore because they're sold out," and
I'm like, "great."
Could you talk a little bit about being here in Vancouver, and what you enjoyed about
Koechner: This is my fifth show up here since '99. I love the city; it's gorgeous, right? I
designed most of the skyline. [laughter] Over the ten years. I'm happy to see all my
designs come to life.
No, it's a gorgeous city, great restaurants, great nightlife. This cast is amazing.
Really talented cast. And kind. You can get that, right? These are very kind people.
They're very bright.
A lot of degrees in the cast, right?
Koechner: lot of degrees?
Yeah, a master's in math...
Koechner: Yeah, I don't pay attention to those things. What use is that? [laughter] No, they're
all very impressive. A very impressive lot. I tell ya, I've had so much fun. They're just a great group, and one of my favorite casts, I have to say that. Really, honestly. This has been a great experience, this show. It is so different from everything I've done before. And the fact that it's 3D; today we're on the cutting edge of what 3D is. Because we have Steve Quale, and you know Steve's pedigree, right? So that's incredible. So I know that the technology we're using today, there's nothing better. Now next week, there might be something, right? But as of today, this is the cutting edge of 3D technology. So when this comes out in August, we will be the leader for that week. [laughter] Two months later, there might have been a more extra-special thing. I remember Steve loves to talk about the technical aspects of it. That guy's mind is just nearly burning all the time. It's just hot. Put your hand here, and you're like, "Wow, that thing's going." You nearly hear it whirr. Whirrrr!
When you first met with him, how did he explain his vision for the film, what he wanted to do technically, and all that to you?
Y'know, Steve kind of gets into... kind of like a channel, and he gets very excited, and animated. They made these animatics of all this 3D stuff that was gonna happen. And he was showing us all of that stuff, and, like, doing most of the physical stuff. Since it's the first time he's directed, so it's like... how do you find that shorthand with actors? Right? It's different with every actor, too. How much of a note do you need to give someone, and how do I explain what I want? 'Cause, y'know, directors always loathe to give a line reading. Sometimes that's the shortest distance between waiting and moving forward, right? [laughs] 'Cause, like "I don't wanna tell you to say it like that, but I wish I could tell you to say it... like THIS?" [laughs] So Steve's approach was more physical in terms of showing us some of the animatics. He talked about what he liked when I auditioned and what he liked about that, so he gave me keys to what he was looking for. And by then it just scene by scene, as to how we're gonna play this one.
And the Previz helped to sorta show you what he was looking for in the scene?
Koechner: Yeah, yeah, Previz. You remember. Did they show you that?
No, they haven't shown us that.
Koechner: Oh. You remember the word, see? [laughter]
Can you talk about working the gimble? Was it bizarre, freaky? Did you actually feel like
you were on a suspension bridge that's gonna collapse?
Koechner: [laughs] I have faith in technology, that it's not gonna collapse. It's exciting. This is a big show. It's a big show. To climb up on that big set like that; it's just more fun, right? It's like you're doing an amusement park ride. You've gone to the Universal Studios I'm sure, right? That's a gimbal, that's what's going on with all that; and we get to play on top of it. It's just playing! It's fantastic.
Latest User Comments: