From creator Rob Thomas, Veronica Mars enjoyed a passionate fan following during its three-season run on TV, and was able to turn that fan support into a feature film, now in theaters and on VOD, to give both the fans and those involved with the show the closure that they didn’t have when it originally went off the air in 2007. In the movie, Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) has put Neptune and her amateur sleuthing days behind her, instead trading it in for a job at a high-end New York law firm. With everything going her way, of course Veronica gets a call from her ex-boyfriend Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), who has been accused of murder, and decides to head back to Neptune where she finds herself being pulled back into a life she thought she had left behind.
During this exclusive interview with Collider, actor Jason Dohring talked about how the show took on a life of its own after it ended, when he realized the movie was finally going to really happen, his surprise to learn that Veronica was still with Piz (Chris Lowell), playing a character that successfully transitioned from antagonist to love interest, what it was like to have the fans on set, getting to do some action sequences, his reaction when he finally got to see the finished film, the best part of living in this world again, and how he’d love to continue to be a part of this world, as long as there’s an audience for it. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Collider: There’s been talk of this movie happening, practically since the time the show went off the air. Did you always believe this movie would eventually happen, especially because of the persistence and loyalty of the fans, or did you just see it as wishful thinking?
JASON DOHRING: We were always wondering if it was the same 20 fans, over and over. We thought we were shooting the smallest little show, and it really took on a life of its own, after the show ended. I think there are even more fans now than there were back then.
At what point did you realize this movie would finally really go into production?
DOHRING: We had heard about it, for years. We were all doing other projects and stuff, and we had heard, “We’re going to do this.” And we were like, “Yeah, that’s great. Just let us know when.” Rob Thomas finally said, “We’re putting it on Kickstarter next months,” and I was like, “Okay, cool.” I wasn’t really paying attention. I was in my backyard doing some yard work, and then I started getting these texts that they were at $750,000 at 11 in the morning. That day, it was all over. He was like, “We’re making the movie,” because we reached our goal in one day. It went viral and it was just amazing. Kristen [Bell] called me later that night and was like, “Can you believe this, Jay?” I didn’t really even know what had happened.
And it’s since sparked so much conversation with other show creators and filmmakers, about possibly bringing other projects back.
DOHRING: I know. That’s what’s so amazing. The fans are out there and they speak. This movie already is a success, and that’s going to put the fans back in charge. And we’re the fans, too. That’s how I see it. The actors on the show love this show. We’re on the same side as the fans. We feel like we want to do more, and we’re happy to continue the story. We’re so invested, as well. It’s wonderful when we’re all, as a family, making a movie – the fans and the actors.
Were you nervous to read the script for the movie, in case it didn’t live up to your own expectations, or did you read it immediately?
DOHRING: I took my time with it. Kristen was like, “Jay, what the hell?!” For whatever reason, I just wanted to take my time reading it and work on it, a little bit at a time. The way that it turned out, I’m so pleased. If there was ever a movie you wanted to please the fans, it’s this one. We could have made an okay movie and they would have loved it, but they deserve something great. Care was taken, at every level, from the development of the script to the actors. And with extra money, we were able to get good locations and make a bigger movie than we thought we were going to, initially. The Warner Bros. executives are over the moon for it, and that’s just so cool. There are a lot of films out there, so to make something special and good that has this kind of camaraderie with the fans is great.
What was it like to have the fans who put up their own money to make this movie happen also hanging around the set?
DOHRING: You never get a chance to do something like this. We worked with those fans. They’re in the movie. In between shots, we were talking to them about the show. They were so interested and so excited. There was a guy who got engaged to his girlfriend and his engagement present to her was to come onto the set and meet everybody. There were people crying. It was just crazy!
Were there times you had to remind yourself that you were actually filming a movie because things got a bit too comfortable?
DOHRING: I know! That’s a good point. But sometimes, if you’re just loose and have fun, it comes through, in its own way. I get into the habit of getting too serious, so for me it was wonderful. I was still overwhelmed by all of the cool things that were happening. They made a big documentary. It was just so cool. I’m never going to get another chance like that.
How was it to return to a character that you started playing when he was a high school student, and now you’re revisiting him at a different point in his life while you’re also at a different point in your own life?
DOHRING: Hopefully, he’s still the same guy because that’s what made him so cool. Rob wrote in some cool things, for what he’s been doing the last seven to ten years, that make him a grown-up, but still give him the witty dialogue. And the scenes with Kristen are still great.
This is one of the few characters that has successfully morphed from antagonist to love interest, and had fans fall in love with him. As an actor, were you worried that you wouldn’t be able to win over the audience, when that initial change happened, or did it feel like a natural progression of the character?
DOHRING: At least for the first season, or possibly even two seasons, I don’t think I thought about the audience, at all. I never made a choice because I thought it was what the audience would like. I don’t know. In your better acting, you’re not really concerned about that too much. When you’re being real, that’s endearing to an audience. When you’re not being real and you’re making jumps to things that don’t really follow how they would in reality, people don’t appreciate that. There’s not a whole lot that’s redeeming about the guy, but he’s trying his best to be a good guy. That was the intention for the character, and that possibly leaked in from my own personality. I don’t know what the hell people liked about him. He was a nasty fellow. But, he was very passionate and he loved her and he was emotional. All of those things are, at least, interesting to watch, as an audience member. Anytime you add charming dialogue and wit, that always pushes it over and you can at least love to hate him.
Could you ever have imagined that it would reach the level that you’d be wearing Team Logan and Team Piz t-shirts?
DOHRING: No. I’m Chris Lowell’s number one fan. He’s such a good dude. We just get along so well. He’s fantastic in the movie. He won me over in the film, and I was already a fan. He did great work in the movie.
Were you surprised that Veronica was still with Piz? Did you think she’d be with Logan, when you read the script?
DOHRING: I don’t know. To be honest, I probably did a little bit of, “Oh, shit, she’s with Piz,” when I was reading it. He’s such a nice guy, and he’s such a nice guy for her. She wants to live a nice, peaceful life. But, there’s something to be said for passionate relationships.
Was it fun to get to do some action sequences in the movie?
DOHRING: We had a fight scene and a couple of little things, but it was centered around the characters. That’s why it’s so amazing that it holds your attention. I was interested, and there wasn’t a Transformers explosion sequence or anything. But we had great choreography, as far as the fight stuff goes. It was great to get in there and throw punches when you could. I like to throw my own punches when I can, as would any guy. You can always tell when it’s somebody in a wig. It’s cool when it comes up to your face and it’s still you in the fight.
What did you think when you finally got to screen the movie?
DOHRING: It was great! I am super pleased. I was hoping it would be at least a 7 ½, and I think it’s much better than that. I know Kristen feels very comfortable in the character, and Rob’s writing feels very natural. I stepped back into it and it was more fun than even doing the show. It’s really cool. And it is a movie. It’s not like two episodes of our show. It’s its own thing, but still our show and fun. We cover a lot of ground in the movie. It was quite good.
What was the best part of the experience of reliving this character and living in this world again?
DOHRING: For me, it’s probably been after we shot the movie. When we get together at these fan signings and we’re signing autographs for nine hours together and having a good time, the work is done, so it’s more of a release. It’s great to hang out with your friends and enjoy the process. We got to go to Texas and sit in a theater with 400 people who produced the movie and are so happy to see it. That’s wonderful. The sheer admiration is fantastic.
You guys have mostly kept in touch with each other, which is something that doesn’t typically happen, once a show finishes its run.
DOHRING: Yeah, we go skiing with each other, and stuff like that. We just have a good time. We enjoy hanging out, and I enjoy watching everyone’s families grow. I have my own family, and we all get together with our kids and talk about kids. We’re all just growing up. Now, it’s coming into a new chapter.
Was it even harder to leave it all behind this time, or did you feel like you got a sense of closure that you didn’t get to have when the show ended?
DOHRING: Yeah, I guess so. But, it’s not our lives that end. It’s a movie. So, I still get to see these guys, all the time. The friendship is never lost. The sad thing would be if we lost that. It was fun that Rob had free reign to write whatever movie he wanted because it was 10 years later. And I think he did a fantastic job of weaving in not only our main characters, but people’s favorites, and it really works. The movie turned out even better than the script, and the script was amazing.
People already want to know about sequels or the possibility of more episodes. Would you like to continue to be a part of this world, as long as there’s an audience for it?
DOHRING: Yeah, I would. When you have Rob’s writing, he always makes it fresh and interesting. He writes such interesting things that it’s something you want to do. Right out of high school, this was a dream role for me. I got to put everything I knew about acting into this one guy because he could be so volatile, he could be cracking up and drunk, and the crying the next minute. And then, he could have a love story in the next episode. I got to do it all. If I had had a one-dimensional character, it might be different. I guess there’s always things you can do and ways you can make it travel somewhere interesting, but Rob writes that kind of stuff. That’s just a blast to act. The matter of the fan base is not in question anymore because it’s there.
The Veronica Mars movie is now in theaters and on VOD.