No matter who you are, when you’re cast in a Final Destination movie, you know you’re going to die. So when I participated in a group interview on the set of Final Destination 5 last year in Vancouver, we eventually asked David Koechner if he had any input into how he’d be killed. He told us:
“They’re all so specific on how the deaths come about. They’re all so wonderfully laid out, 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.”
I’d expect nothing less in a Final Destination movie. During the interview, Koechner also talked about working with the 3D cameras, the development of his character, what it’s like to work on a horror movie versus other genres, are there any similarities between working on this and Hannah Montana, and a lot more. Hit the jump to check out what he had to say.
Before getting to the interview, if you haven’t seen the latest trailer, watch that first.
As usual I’m offering you two ways to get the interview: you can either click here for the audio, or the full transcript is below. Final Destination 5 opens August 12.
Question: The director said he wanted to hire comedians to play dramatic roles versus hiring actors to be funny. Can you talk about the development of your character?
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, … its 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 a funny line out of context! So things like that I think, just minor details. We’re not hitting the gas on the comedy on this one. Right? So it’s well put, the way he had said it, I guess. I never knew that. I just thought it was just good enough to get the job. Here’s what I think. I think that even in a drama, we all want 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 want to have fun in life, as opposed to have a boring time, a terrible time.
Have you known people like the character that you play in your own life, and did you draw from them for this role?
Koechner: Yeah. I’m the boss of these employees, most of everyone you’ve interviewed, and he’s a bit of a prick. So yeah, I’ve known pricks in my life.
Can you name any?
Koechner: Yeah I can, but I’m not going to.
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 improvisation in this picture, and that you’re terrific at improvisation in general. Is it hard to do improvise 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, 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 just like any other movie, you have to hit your mark.
Koechner: I got to 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 for 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!
Have you watched any of the other Final Destination movies?
Koechner: I’ve watched parts of some but I haven’t watched a whole one. I thought I could watch them all on up here on Netflix when I got here, 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.” I’m that lazy.
How different is it working on a horror movie? Now that you’re working with blood, and guts, and other things on top of that, is it different?
Koechner: It’s fantastic. I believe as actors we just want to play, right? Yesterday, I was in make-up for three hours. Then I had a break, and then I was back in make-up for another hour. I was there all day long, and people were like “Is that awful? Is it uncomfortable?” It’s like “No, c’mon, man! We’re actors, this is what we want to do! You just get to play.” So just an opportunity to work is always a treat. And if you get to die a couple times, what actor doesn’t want to die? This is what we all want! These are our death scenes.
In regards to the death scenes, when you found out what was going to happen to your character, did you offer any ideas or did you just stick to the script?
Koechner: They’re all so specific on how the deaths come about. They’re all so wonderfully laid out, 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.
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 me to bring some humor. I assumed 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, when you have that opportunity to talk with the director and say, “Hey, how about this here,” or “I was thinking this or that,” and he’ll just say yes or no. 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 going to work in the end.
This is an R-rated film. So does that alter anything about the way you deliver a line, or do something?
Koechner: I don’t really think about it. You’ve got the script 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 “fucks,” or, “shits” or “God damns” or things like that. I don’t remember thinking about it, but I’d probably think about it more if it weren’t R because then you’d have to watch yourself a little bit more. Knowing its R, you don’t even have to think about what you might say, if you casually slip in a “fuck you” or something. I don’t even know if I did. I haven’t seen it yet.
Koechner: Todd Packer is… incorrigible. This guy’s the boss. Todd Packer’s a bit unhinged. He’s got social problems. 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. This is for adults. That one’s for kids. I’ll tell you, those are interesting things to do. My daughter was seven, and I knew someone on the crew, and so we went by to say hi. I didn’t know who Hannah Montana was; this was like four years ago or something like that, before she exploded.
Could you talk a little bit about being here in Vancouver, and what you enjoyed about it?
Koechner: This is my fifth show up here since ’99. I love the city; it’s gorgeous, right? I designed most of the skyline. Over the ten years. I’m happy to see all my designs come to life. No, it’s a gorgeous city, great restaurants, and a great nightlife.
Koechner: This cast is amazing. It’s a really talented cast. You can get that, right? These are very kind people. They’re very bright and they’re all very impressive. It’s a very impressive lot. I tell you, I’ve had so much fun. They’re just a great group and one of my favorite casts I have to say. Really, this has been a great experience, this show. It is so different from anything I’ve done before. The fact that it’s 3D; today we’re on the cutting edge of what 3D is because we have Steve Quayle, 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. Two months later, there might be 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.
Koechner: Steve kind of gets into, like a channel, and he gets very excited, and animated. They made these animatics of all this 3D stuff what was going to happen. He was showing us all of that, and doing most of the physical stuff. Since it’s the first time he’s directed it’s like how do you find that shorthand with actors? 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? Because directors always loathe giving line readings but sometimes that’s the shortest distance between waiting and moving forward, right? Because it’s like, “I don’t want to tell you to say it like that, but I wish I could tell you to say it like THIS!” 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. By then it just scene-by-scene, as to how we’re going play this one.
Can you talk about working on the gimbal? Was it bizarre, or freaky? Did you actually feel like you were on a suspension bridge that’s was going to collapse?
Koechner: I have faith in technology, that it’s not going collapse. It’s exciting. This is a big show. To climb up on that big set like that; it’s just more fun, right? It’s like you’re going on 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.
For more Final Destination 5 set visit coverage: