Interview with Actor Keith Coogan
MM: So Keith – as a long time watcher and fan of your films, and reading reports that you were still around Hollywood, I have to ask – where did you go?
KC: (laughs) I went nowhere! I fell into that whole, “I have to make a living and eat food” phase, so I learned some business skills, and made my way through the dark spots. The greatest thing to happen during that time would have to be the explosive growth of “New Media”, which throws a little bit of a bone out to those wishing to produce projects of their own. With a little bit of guidance, education and now with sparkly new management, I'm back with a vengeance!
MM: Talk about the Monologue a Day Project you're doing on youtube
KC: I was sitting in the bathtub on New Year's Day, when, like a lightening bolt, this great idea for a project leapt into my head. I'm a big fan of “Julie and Julia”, and I put two and two together and decided I would learn, shoot, and then post a monologue a day for a full year. The project has been the best acting class I have ever been through... and it's a great motivator. I never imagined I would get such great press from doing it, and certainly would have called the funny farm on anyone suggesting TMZ would do a spot covering the project. But it happened, so deal with it.
MM: Since we are a music mag, how has music influenced or shaped your career as an actor – or just inspired you as a person?
KC: Well, I've always loved all kinds of music. As a young guy, my dad played bass in an all black band, and he was the only white guy in the band.... so they nicknamed him “Spot”. And ya know – my mom started me on Earth, Wind & Fire, Tower of Power and a lot of different funk when I was growing up. But getting older, I got into playing piano and trombone and of course, I was trained in John Philip Souza marches and all that – but much later, I got into guitar and I sort of became a rocker (kinda like my character in 'Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead' but I felt that that happened for me later in life – I was 18 and everyone else was already there. I was a late bloomer when it came to music. But I also do love a lot of modern stuff - Pavement, MGMT and a lot of weird bands. Huge Pink Floyd fan.
MM: So considering your dad's role in that band, was that scene where you all entered that all-Black blues club in Chicago 'Adventures in Babysitting' hit home for you? Was it sort of surreal?
KC: Well ya know, being raised poor, I guess I was trained to never see others as different, regardless of status or race – so it didn't freak me out or anything. But yeah, in going to Chicago to film that scene and then winding up in a studio with Albert Collins and the Icebreakers... - I was thinking 'Oh my gawd – this is unreal'. Such an amazing experience, for sure.
MM: Do you feel like being at the age you are, you can relate well to technology and embrace it and use it for good?
KC: Absolutely – I love the fact that the system has shifted and now one person with a camera really has the power to create and do what they're passionate about. There used be 88 media companies controlling everything, now there are 6. Rupert Murdoch is pissed and still maintains control with an Iron Fist, and rightfully so, as he needs to get paid real money for the fake news he produces – but it's still not happening. The power has shifted to the individual, who has more independent choices as to what they watch and read, and I love that.
MM: Looking over your accolades, and getting your start guest starring on shows such as 'Little House on the Prairie' and starting at such a young age, do you feel that tainted your career at all or do you embrace those experiences as helping you?
KC: Ya know, I loved my childhood and I definitely wouldn't change it. I mean, thinking back to being on the set of 'Love Boat', 'Fantasy Island', 'Knight Rider', all that stuff– It was an absolutely terrific way to grow up. The only difference between today's kids and my young career would be that when I was a child, kids typically didn't make the same money as the adult actors, and proper screen credit could be hard to secure without good representation. Nowadays, the studios understand that the power is in the hands of the youths, and these kids get LOTS of money, and are pushed so hard to be a product... none of today's kids get to be much of a kid. Personally, I loved all of it. And I think that it's helped me to be who I am today.
MM: I saw 'Toy Soldiers' on Peachtree TV the other day – talk a bit about some of controversy around that film
KC: Uh, controversy? Ya know, I don't think there ever really was much controversy when it opened, but it's certainly the type of film that just could not get made in today's culture. I mean the plot was about South American terrorists who cross through the Mexican border, kill the guards to get in and then take over a private school filled with the progeny of the rich and elite. I mean – there's nothing about it that any production company would go for now... Toy Soldier's will probably NOT show up on the list of projects being remade/re-imagined. But as far as the fun, popcorn thrill ride, and this sort of band of renegade kids who end up working with their principal (whom they once hated) to help save the day, that's a theme that I think needs to come through. It's OK for kids to think for themselves and question authority. How else will they grow up to become smart, educated, and independent adults?
MM: What are some future projects we can expect to see from you?
KC: Well, I'm actually taking on a major role replacing the late Corey Haim in a film called 'A Detour In Life' which is about a father who goes down the road of alcoholism and self-doubt after suffering a tragic loss. And it's a role Corey could have done in his sleep but for me, being known as more of a comedy guy, it's going to force me to get to some deep and dark places. And I'm so very looking forward to the work of that role and the whole process of it.
MM: And will we see more from 'The Telepathist'?
KC: (laughs) This fall, on ABC. Actually, “The Telepathist” is the show-within-a-show on the web series, “Crafty”. Very funny take on show-biz as seen from the trenches of the food service department of the entertainment industry. It's ridiculous, rude, racist, misogynistic, loud, fast, and vicious. No role or personality type in the industry is left un-skewered. We've shot ten episodes, and are looking for someone to buy it, or as I like to say, “Give us money for this shit!”
MM: I look forward to seeing it! Thanks for your time, it was great catching up!
KC: Thanks a bunch, Matt... I'll talk to you later!