"Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" featured one of the most star-studded casts of comedic actors in the past decade. Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner and Christina Applegate turned the simple setting of a 70s San Diego news station into classy comedy.
One might imagine this group made all kinds of jokes offset and fed off each other's cracks. Koechner claims this was not the case.
"People ask and it's not a group of pranksters," he says. "There wasn't a lot of hijinks."
Koechner played Champ Kind, the cowboy sportscaster, in the movie, and in real life, he is an avid football fan, who is helping pitch the Bud Light Fantasy Football League this season.
Koechner says he and some of his fellow cast mates were far from relaxed at the start of filming. The actor/comedian remembers some anxiety he had after working with such a deep cast that first week.
"We had the weekend off, and myself, Paul Rudd and Steve Carell had all gone home and had the same conversations with our wives, which was 'I'm not keeping up. Oh, my gosh, those guys are all so funny,'" he says. "So that was interesting. How we all felt like the other ones were terrific."
The cast must have eventually felt comfortable in each other's presence, as the movie became an instant hit. A $26 million budget was turned into a worldwide $90.6 million total at the box office upon its July 2004 release. "Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie," based on outtakes and deleted scenes from the original, went straight to DVD later that year.
The actors have fed off the success of the films, as have writer/director Adam McKay and producer Judd Apatow.
Now, the entire Anchorman team is ready to return to the newsroom. "Anchorman: The Legend Continues" is scheduled to begin filming in February 2013 with a planned release date later in the year. Koechner says he is "very excited" for what he is calling "Anchor Deuce." He believes the prospect of a sequel had been floating around for some time since the first movie, and all the pieces just needed to be lined up.
"Everyone wanted to get back to it," he says. "No one was opposed to it. It just took a long time for all of the elements to come together."
Koechner will reprise his role of Champ Kind, who is known for his male-dominant attitude and underlying feelings for Ron Burgundy (Ferrell), one of the co-anchormen at KVWN.
Koechner did not do any extensive background research on sportscasters for the role. As a television watcher, he felt he would be just fine.
"I just went into it as an actor," he says. "Obviously most Americans have a working knowledge of television and your local evening news, so all my life I've seen my local sports anchors all over."
Outside of the Anchorman movies, Koechner undertook a different sports-related role as Coach Lambeau Fields in the 2007 comedy, "The Comebacks" (directed by Tom Brady -- no relation to the Patriots quarterback).
After experiencing both roles, Koechner has come to a conclusion: No sports background is needed for a sports-related comedy role. Although he did come into his "Anchorman" and "The Comebacks" roles with a passion for sports, he does not believe it made much of a difference.
"I would dare say a person would not have to know anything about sports to play either of those roles because it's not like you were writing it. It's already written," he said. "I mean I certainly have a love of sports, and football is my favorite, but I don't think you have to well-versed in the art of all things sports to play them as an actor. I mean it helps."
Koechner believes actors with little sports knowledge can perform well by just sticking to some classic acting techniques. Imagine a more relatable scenario and stick to the script.
"As an actor, you have to create your own emotional life," he says. "Now if you don't have a touchstone for it, how that fits with whatever this role you're playing, you should do some investigation, but normally what you'll do for anything is you'll substitute something that's emotionally relevant and resonate to you in accordance to what the lines are.
While Koechner prepares for another turn as Champ Kind, he will focus on his main sports love: football. Koechner will be participating in the Bud Light Fantasy Football League, a way to compete against others using codes on Bud Light bottles. Players can use the codes to create a team (each code marks a different position on a team, rather than individual players), and there are more than 13,000 weekly prizes available. One grand-prize winner will be given an opportunity to go to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
Koechner is thrilled to get started with the league, which works on a daily basis: "Like most Americans. I like my footballs, I like my fantasies and put them together, what do you have? Fantasy footballs."
As Koechner says about acting in sports roles, no sports knowledge is necessary to compete in the Bud Light Fantasy Football League.
In terms of the NFL season, Koechner is sticking to loyalties with his Super Bowl pick. The Tipton, Mo. native is taking the Chiefs to take home the Lombardi Trophy to Kansas City in February.
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