Everyone loves Ron Burgundy. But somebody loves him a little bit more than others. That person is Champ Kind, the sexist, possibly closeted sports reporter who came up through the ranks with Burgundy and the Channel 4 news team. In Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Champ’s devotion to Burgundy is a big part of the reason he quits his job running a fast-food chicken restaurant and gets back in the news business at GNN, the first 24-hour cable news station.
The man behind Champ’s boisterous antics is David Koechner (KECK-ner), the 51-year-old father of five who formed a comic bond with Will Ferrell and writer Adam McKay during his one-year stint on Saturday Night Live in the mid-1990s. Since then, he’s popped up in most of their funniest movies, and his hilarious cameo in The 40-Year-Old Virgin opposite Steve Carell helped him land the role of The Office’s Todd Packer, a character Koechner affectionately describes as an “emotional hand grenade.”
Koechner spoke to EW about the new Anchorman movie, how it compares to the Godfather II, and the amazing number of great jokes that ended up on the cutting-room floor (for now). BEWARE MINOR SPOILERS.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I just saw the movie with a big crowd of people who howled all the way through, from “chicken of the cave” to the epic news-team rumble.
DAVID KOECHNER: You did? What did you think?
Well, it’s not Godfather Part II, but it is exactly what everyone loves about the first movie.
It’s much funnier than Godfather II. I will argue that with anyone.
I know it’s Ron’s movie, but I found myself craving a little more news team, especially during the second half of the film.
That’s very sweet of you, but if you think I’m going to comment on that, I’m not. Of course, my ego wants more [scenes]. But look, you’ve got to serve your picture. Plus, here’s the thing, and this is going to be reported a thousand times: There is so much movie. At one point, we were lobbying for the director to Kill Bill it. Cut it in two. Give them everything. Because every day we’d walk away going, “I don’t know, is that it? What’s in?” Because everything was wonderful. Everything was great. It’s an embarrassment of riches.
So there’s probably enough for another Wake Up, Ron Burgundy.
Yes, yes there is. In fact, Adam McKay the director has said there’s 230 additional jokes, new, fresh jokes that haven’t even been used yet. I know there’s some big scenes that were amazing that didn’t make the picture. I’m sure it will make its way out to the public’s eyes. But c’mon, the film’s awesome.
Was anything different making the sequel, as compared to the original? Was it easy to get back in the groove?
Yup. That chemistry is pretty immediate. We knew that there was deep appreciation for the first one, but I can’t really point to anything that was largely a departure other than to say we could do more because we were shooting digital, not film. So we’d just keep rolling. McKay could just sit from behind a monitor and he had a microphone and he could just throw out alternative lines. It’s amazing, because McKay’s mind is one of the most fertile beasts you’ll ever cross. It’s just like a cascade of beautiful, funny language that’s constantly emanating from his hole.
People are going to be discussing the news-team brawl forever. Was there any celebrity cameo that blew your mind?
Well, all of them. I almost don’t want to say anything because then it seems like I’m taking away from someone else. But I will say this: Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are two of the most joyful performers I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. And I’ve known them a very long time. The joy and enthusiasm and hilarity they bring is just so refreshing.
I feel like you’ve all been promoting the heck out of this non-stop. Now that the movie is open, what are you going to do next?
There’s this amazing film coming out in March called Cheap Thrills. It’s an independent I shot a year ago that is amazing. It’s a sinister thriller with comedic undertones. I can’t say it’ll knock your d-ck off, but it will. It’s a real pressure cooker, and at the end, the audience just gets silent, like they got punched ion the stomach. It’s remarkable.
It’s a different role than what you’re most known for.
Being loud and obnoxious? It’s certainly a departure from what I’ve done before, so that was interesting. The script was fantastic. Sometimes you get a good feeling about a thing, and it works out. This one really did. We shot in 12 days. It was like doing a play.
What are you planning next?
I’m developing some television in the spring. Daddy wants to stay home. I’d like to stay home.
I’m still hoping to see a Todd Packer spin-off.
[Laughs] Todd Packer’s a nice spice. I always equated him to an emotional hand grenade. He comes in, he throws it, and there’s collateral damage everywhere. And when people start healing, then bring him back in. I’m not sure people would like to see that week to week. It would be fun to do a Todd Packer television movie of the week. I would love it. Put that in there.