Through the Black Hole » KEITH COOGAN – Interview

KEITH COOGAN – Interview

Written by Tony Northrup

Although the 1980′s are quite often referred to as the,” teen film era”, with many a fine young actor featured in numerous movies, directed by the likes of Chris Columbus and John Hughes, there is one actor that comes to mind that I really enjoyed, and is still entertaining us today. Actor, Keith Coogan is a life long name in the film industry.

A native of Southern California, he was born Keith Eric Mitchell, in Palm Springs on January 13, 1970. Keith’s mother, Leslie Diane Coogan, is also an actress, and his grandfather, actor Jackie Coogan, who is fondly remembered for his role as that quirky but lovable misfit, Uncle Fester, on the mega hit 1960′s television series, THE ADDAMS FAMILY, was also a child actor, beginning his career during the silent film era. Therefore it seems befitting that Keith should follow in the footsteps of the family business.

Keith’s acting career began at the ripe old age of five, starring in a Mc Donalds commerical. Soon he graduated from commercials to television shows, making appearances on such hit series as, The Waltons, Little House on the Praire, The Love Boat, Knight Rider, and Growing Pains, just to name a few. In 1981 he was the voice of, “Tod”, for the Disney Animated feature film,” FOX AND THE HOUND”. However it was in 1982 that Keith was recognized for his acting abilities when he won the,” Young Artist Award for Best Young Guest on a Series”. This was for his appearance on the popular series,” KNIGHT RIDER”.

When Keith was older he continued his education at L.A. City College, where he majored in Java Programming. After completing his studies there, he went on to attend Santa Monica College, where he majored in Drama and English Literature. In 1986 Keith changed his last name from Mitchell to Coogan, just two years after the death of his beloved grandfather, Jackie Coogan. It was in 1987 that Keith got his first role in a feature film, the box office hit, “ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING”. Keith played the older brother Brad, and the film centered around a babysitter who takes three kids into the Chicago nightlife to save a friend. The film was a huge success and considered a Classic Teen Comedy from the 1980′s. However Keith starred in another hit that year as well,” HIDING OUT”, with actor John Cryer . This film was about a Wall Street suit on the run who goes into hiding by posing as a high school student. Coogan played Cryer’s cousin in the film, once again proving his keen acting abilities. Thereafter Keith’s career took off with such films as,” COUSINS, CHEETAH, BOOK OF LOVE, TOY SOLDIERS”, just to mention a few.

In the early 1990′s Keith starred along side actress Kristina Applegate, as her brother Kenny, in yet another hit film,” DON’T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER”S DEAD”. Throughout the 90′s Keith went on to do television, more films, and theater as well. In 2008 Keith worked on a film in Dallas Texas called,” THE KEITH COOGAN EXPERIENCE”, of course starring as himself. In January of 2010, Keith went on to do yet another project called,’ MONOLOGUE A DAY PROJECT”, in which Keith learned/did monologue a little each day and posted the result on his blog. At the end of 2010, he took part in a documentary called,” SIMPLY COOGAN – AN INTERVIEW”. Curently Keith does a program named, “CALL SHEET”, a radio podcast about the entertainment industry. Whatever project Keith is doing, he always puts forth 100% effort, and we the fans get 100% entertained. So, without further ado, here is my,” Exclusive One-on-One Interview”, with actor Keith Coogan!

Most of us know that your mother Leslie was an actress, and that your grandfather Jackie Coogan, was a well known actor. Were the two of them your inspiration for also seeking a career in the film industry?
Not necessarily… I was inspired to begin acting by watching television, children’s shows such as Sesame Street, Electric Company, Zoom, and the like. A few years after I began to pursue acting, I learned about my grandfather’s work, then I doubled down on getting into the pictures. Back in the day, you either did television or film, and I was always trying to break that elusive celluloid ceiling.

You began your career in the late 1970′s in commericals such as McDonalds. In the early 1980′s you also appeared on television shows as well, LOVE BOAT, FANTASY ISLAND, and MORK & MINDY, to name a few. What are some of your fondest memories of theses early appearances?
Just simply being on television shows that I also watched. Keep in mind, I was fascinated by the fake becoming real once put behind the lens… So, The Love Boat was on a stage, Fantasy Island was in Burbank, and I knew damn well that Mork was NOT from Ork. I just fell in love with the illusion of film and television. I will have to admit, riding in K.I.T.T. (Knight Rider), is still one of my favorite childhood memories.

Your performance in the 1980′s television series KNIGHT RIDER, won you the BEST YOUNG ACTOR AS A GUEST ON A SERIES AWARD. How did it feel to receive that award at such an early age?
I felt like a complete fraud. Those awards shows tended to nominate every single working actor and actress in the business, so they could sell as many seats to the awards shows as possible, and I always had mixed emotions about the, “Youth in Film Awards”, as they were called then. Drew Barrymore won that year for her performance in “E.T.”… I didn’t feel my, “jump and shout”, role in Knight Rider warranted the award, but it WAS cool to get my trophy the same year my grandfather received his Lifetime Achievement Award. I said to Jack, “Look, I have one just like yours!” And he replied, “No, they are different… You won yours, and I earned mine.” He was a bitch like that.

In 1986 you changed your last name from Mitchell to Coogan. This was your grandfather Jackie’s last name. Was this your idea alone, and if so, what were your parents thoughts on making this change?
I suppose it was a combo idea between me, my mom, and my management at the time. I even did one full year with headshots that read, “Keith Mitchell Coogan”, but I was never credited in a role as such. I used the name change to help me transition from TV to film.

You have worked in many live theatrical stage productions. Do you find them more of a challenge than acting in films?
Yes, keeping up the work and excitement over the run of a play is much more difficult than being a mercenary, and banging out a movie in one shot. I did enjoy being able to stay in character for two solid hours at a time, plus theater has those “magic moments” that pop up only every so often during your run… You work hard to get there for just a moment or two, but theater is ultimately very satisfying to an actors core.

Your grandfather, Jackie Coogan, played Uncle Fester on the ever popular 1960′s television series, THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Do you recall any interesting stories he may have shared with you while starring on the show?
No, but Sean Astin and I would sit around and watch old episodes, taking bits of physical comedy and sticking those in our pocket for later use. We really enjoyed how his father and my grandfather worked together.

In 1987 your biggest role came with a part in the film,” ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING”. How would you compare that film with other popular teen based films of the time, such as the many John Hughes films that seemed to dominate the box office?
I compare AIB to Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, and Breakfast Club mostly… There’s that little bit in the end of Adventures when I say it’s Okay if Chris ignores me in the hall at school, and she says she doesn’t ignore friends… That always reminded me of the end of The Breakfast Club. And Ferris Beuller was a template for AIB… Kids on their own in Chicago, Musical Number, French Restaurant Scene, just beating the parents home… all those things are in both pictures. Any time anyone mentions John Hughes’ movies and AIB in one breath, I simply go right through the ceiling.

In the film,” ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING”, the story takes place over the course of one night in the hectic streets of Chicago. What were your toughest challenges making that film?
Working late nights, doing some of the stunts, and most importantly giving the movie a sense of urgency, and stakes, without going too far into the absurd. Keeping a balance between the light action, farce, and fun. That’s why the movie wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without the guiding and loving hand of Chris Columbus.

Keith, in all of my interviews I always let one of my readers ask a question. Emily Onestar of Sacremento, California asks…” I know you have done movies, television and theater, but I want to know if you have at least one preference that is your favorite above the rest? If so, why?
Film, always film. There is something about the rhythm of filming, the time you take, and the relationships you build with cast and crew that I find appealing. You don’t get that sort of thing on short TV shoots, and with theater you don’t have the finished product that you can hold in your hand and watch whenever you want. I’m partial to the moving pictures!

In,” ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING”, and the hit teen film,” HIDING OUT”, both characters have a bit of a “nerd type” personality. Do you feel that you drew from your own experiences in high school to bring life to either of these characters?
Trombone in marching band? Theater nerd? Computer programmer? I have no idea what you are talking about.

You’ve worked with many young actors that were coming on the scene along with you. Elizabeth Shue, Wil Wheaton, Sean Astin, and Jon Cryer, just to name a few. Do you recall any fond memories that still stand out now, while working with any of them?
They all carried multi-million dollar budgets on their shoulders with the greatest of ease… I have great respect for everyone you just mentioned above. All of my memories are fond… nothing sticks out… except their exceptionalism.

Many of our readers are familiar with the film,” DON’T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER’S DEAD”, and probably have the same question I do. What was it like working with the lovely Christina Applegate, from the hit show “MARRIED WITH CHILDREN” ?
Lovely is right. She’s smart, beautiful, and funny. Everything you see on screen that you love about her is exactly like that in real life and on the set. A consummate professional, always working hard on the shot, the scene, the moment… Never complained or bitched about the heat, the flies, the smell. Blew her whole summer working with us, then had to run back to the Married set… I couldn’t say enough great things about Christina… Plus, she had some really good taste in music, and turned me on to a couple of great bands.

As a teen actor in the 1980′s and early 90′s, do you have any words of wisdom for the aspiring young actors of today?
Education, education, education. Did I mention that you should stay in school and get a great education? Not only does a good general knowledge help you with your character work, it also helps you eat when the parts thin out… Get a degree in something useful, not that Liberal Arts sh**…

Keith, there are numerous rumors flying about lately that you are planning something very special in October. Would you like to share with our readers what that might be?
On October 26th, 2013 (my late grandfather’s birthday), I am marrying Kristen “Pinky” Shean http://www.pinkylovejoy.com/ in Malibu, CA. It was love at first sight, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her. True love exists…

Last but certainly not least, when it comes to the art of acting… What’s next for… Keith Coogan?
I have just wrapped production on “Dawn Patrol” which reunites me with the director of “Toy Soldiers” Daniel Petrie, Jr., and have a film that is killing it on the festival circuit, “Waking”. I am also producing, writing, and directing my own projects, all while working on a cure for the zombie apocalypse… 2013 has been the best year for me, and I look forward to many more years in “the industry”… after all, show business is my life!

I want to thank Keith Coogan for taking time out of his busy schedule to do this interview and wish him the best in his future ventures and congratulate Kristen and him both on their up-coming wedding. Until next time, I hope you have enjoyed this interview as much as I have enjoyed bringing it to you. Now go watch a movie.

English:

Although the 1980′s are quite often referred to as the,” teen film era”, with many a fine young actor featured in numerous movies, directed by the likes of Chris Columbus and John Hughes, there is one actor that comes to mind that I really enjoyed, and is still entertaining us today. Actor, Keith Coogan is a life long name in the film industry.

A native of Southern California, he was born Keith Eric Mitchell, in Palm Springs on January 13, 1970. Keith’s mother, Leslie Diane Coogan, is also an actress, and his grandfather, actor Jackie Coogan, who is fondly remembered for his role as that quirky but lovable misfit, Uncle Fester, on the mega hit 1960′s television series, THE ADDAMS FAMILY, was also a child actor, beginning his career during the silent film era. Therefore it seems befitting that Keith should follow in the footsteps of the family business.

Keith’s acting career began at the ripe old age of five, starring in a Mc Donalds commerical. Soon he graduated from commercials to television shows, making appearances on such hit series as, The Waltons, Little House on the Praire, The Love Boat, Knight Rider, and Growing Pains, just to name a few. In 1981 he was the voice of, “Tod”, for the Disney Animated feature film,” FOX AND THE HOUND”. However it was in 1982 that Keith was recognized for his acting abilities when he won the,” Young Artist Award for Best Young Guest on a Series”. This was for his appearance on the popular series,” KNIGHT RIDER”.

When Keith was older he continued his education at L.A. City College, where he majored in Java Programming. After completing his studies there, he went on to attend Santa Monica College, where he majored in Drama and English Literature. In 1986 Keith changed his last name from Mitchell to Coogan, just two years after the death of his beloved grandfather, Jackie Coogan. It was in 1987 that Keith got his first role in a feature film, the box office hit, “ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING”. Keith played the older brother Brad, and the film centered around a babysitter who takes three kids into the Chicago nightlife to save a friend. The film was a huge success and considered a Classic Teen Comedy from the 1980′s. However Keith starred in another hit that year as well,” HIDING OUT”, with actor John Cryer . This film was about a Wall Street suit on the run who goes into hiding by posing as a high school student. Coogan played Cryer’s cousin in the film, once again proving his keen acting abilities. Thereafter Keith’s career took off with such films as,” COUSINS, CHEETAH, BOOK OF LOVE, TOY SOLDIERS”, just to mention a few.

In the early 1990′s Keith starred along side actress Kristina Applegate, as her brother Kenny, in yet another hit film,” DON’T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER”S DEAD”. Throughout the 90′s Keith went on to do television, more films, and theater as well. In 2008 Keith worked on a film in Dallas Texas called,” THE KEITH COOGAN EXPERIENCE”, of course starring as himself. In January of 2010, Keith went on to do yet another project called,’ MONOLOGUE A DAY PROJECT”, in which Keith learned/did monologue a little each day and posted the result on his blog. At the end of 2010, he took part in a documentary called,” SIMPLY COOGAN – AN INTERVIEW”. Curently Keith does a program named, “CALL SHEET”, a radio podcast about the entertainment industry. Whatever project Keith is doing, he always puts forth 100% effort, and we the fans get 100% entertained. So, without further ado, here is my,” Exclusive One-on-One Interview”, with actor Keith Coogan!

Most of us know that your mother Leslie was an actress, and that your grandfather Jackie Coogan, was a well known actor. Were the two of them your inspiration for also seeking a career in the film industry?
Not necessarily… I was inspired to begin acting by watching television, children’s shows such as Sesame Street, Electric Company, Zoom, and the like. A few years after I began to pursue acting, I learned about my grandfather’s work, then I doubled down on getting into the pictures. Back in the day, you either did television or film, and I was always trying to break that elusive celluloid ceiling.

You began your career in the late 1970′s in commericals such as McDonalds. In the early 1980′s you also appeared on television shows as well, LOVE BOAT, FANTASY ISLAND, and MORK & MINDY, to name a few. What are some of your fondest memories of theses early appearances?
Just simply being on television shows that I also watched. Keep in mind, I was fascinated by the fake becoming real once put behind the lens… So, The Love Boat was on a stage, Fantasy Island was in Burbank, and I knew damn well that Mork was NOT from Ork. I just fell in love with the illusion of film and television. I will have to admit, riding in K.I.T.T. (Knight Rider), is still one of my favorite childhood memories.

Your performance in the 1980′s television series KNIGHT RIDER, won you the BEST YOUNG ACTOR AS A GUEST ON A SERIES AWARD. How did it feel to receive that award at such an early age?
I felt like a complete fraud. Those awards shows tended to nominate every single working actor and actress in the business, so they could sell as many seats to the awards shows as possible, and I always had mixed emotions about the, “Youth in Film Awards”, as they were called then. Drew Barrymore won that year for her performance in “E.T.”… I didn’t feel my, “jump and shout”, role in Knight Rider warranted the award, but it WAS cool to get my trophy the same year my grandfather received his Lifetime Achievement Award. I said to Jack, “Look, I have one just like yours!” And he replied, “No, they are different… You won yours, and I earned mine.” He was a bitch like that.

In 1986 you changed your last name from Mitchell to Coogan. This was your grandfather Jackie’s last name. Was this your idea alone, and if so, what were your parents thoughts on making this change?
I suppose it was a combo idea between me, my mom, and my management at the time. I even did one full year with headshots that read, “Keith Mitchell Coogan”, but I was never credited in a role as such. I used the name change to help me transition from TV to film.

You have worked in many live theatrical stage productions. Do you find them more of a challenge than acting in films?
Yes, keeping up the work and excitement over the run of a play is much more difficult than being a mercenary, and banging out a movie in one shot. I did enjoy being able to stay in character for two solid hours at a time, plus theater has those “magic moments” that pop up only every so often during your run… You work hard to get there for just a moment or two, but theater is ultimately very satisfying to an actors core.

Your grandfather, Jackie Coogan, played Uncle Fester on the ever popular 1960′s television series, THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Do you recall any interesting stories he may have shared with you while starring on the show?
No, but Sean Astin and I would sit around and watch old episodes, taking bits of physical comedy and sticking those in our pocket for later use. We really enjoyed how his father and my grandfather worked together.

In 1987 your biggest role came with a part in the film,” ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING”. How would you compare that film with other popular teen based films of the time, such as the many John Hughes films that seemed to dominate the box office?
I compare AIB to Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, and Breakfast Club mostly… There’s that little bit in the end of Adventures when I say it’s Okay if Chris ignores me in the hall at school, and she says she doesn’t ignore friends… That always reminded me of the end of The Breakfast Club. And Ferris Beuller was a template for AIB… Kids on their own in Chicago, Musical Number, French Restaurant Scene, just beating the parents home… all those things are in both pictures. Any time anyone mentions John Hughes’ movies and AIB in one breath, I simply go right through the ceiling.

In the film,” ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING”, the story takes place over the course of one night in the hectic streets of Chicago. What were your toughest challenges making that film?
Working late nights, doing some of the stunts, and most importantly giving the movie a sense of urgency, and stakes, without going too far into the absurd. Keeping a balance between the light action, farce, and fun. That’s why the movie wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without the guiding and loving hand of Chris Columbus.

Keith, in all of my interviews I always let one of my readers ask a question. Emily Onestar of Sacremento, California asks…” I know you have done movies, television and theater, but I want to know if you have at least one preference that is your favorite above the rest? If so, why?
Film, always film. There is something about the rhythm of filming, the time you take, and the relationships you build with cast and crew that I find appealing. You don’t get that sort of thing on short TV shoots, and with theater you don’t have the finished product that you can hold in your hand and watch whenever you want. I’m partial to the moving pictures!

In,” ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING”, and the hit teen film,” HIDING OUT”, both characters have a bit of a “nerd type” personality. Do you feel that you drew from your own experiences in high school to bring life to either of these characters?
Trombone in marching band? Theater nerd? Computer programmer? I have no idea what you are talking about.

You’ve worked with many young actors that were coming on the scene along with you. Elizabeth Shue, Wil Wheaton, Sean Astin, and Jon Cryer, just to name a few. Do you recall any fond memories that still stand out now, while working with any of them?
They all carried multi-million dollar budgets on their shoulders with the greatest of ease… I have great respect for everyone you just mentioned above. All of my memories are fond… nothing sticks out… except their exceptionalism.

Many of our readers are familiar with the film,” DON’T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER’S DEAD”, and probably have the same question I do. What was it like working with the lovely Christina Applegate, from the hit show “MARRIED WITH CHILDREN” ?
Lovely is right. She’s smart, beautiful, and funny. Everything you see on screen that you love about her is exactly like that in real life and on the set. A consummate professional, always working hard on the shot, the scene, the moment… Never complained or bitched about the heat, the flies, the smell. Blew her whole summer working with us, then had to run back to the Married set… I couldn’t say enough great things about Christina… Plus, she had some really good taste in music, and turned me on to a couple of great bands.

As a teen actor in the 1980′s and early 90′s, do you have any words of wisdom for the aspiring young actors of today?
Education, education, education. Did I mention that you should stay in school and get a great education? Not only does a good general knowledge help you with your character work, it also helps you eat when the parts thin out… Get a degree in something useful, not that Liberal Arts sh**…

Keith, there are numerous rumors flying about lately that you are planning something very special in October. Would you like to share with our readers what that might be?
On October 26th, 2013 (my late grandfather’s birthday), I am marrying Kristen “Pinky” Shean http://www.pinkylovejoy.com/ in Malibu, CA. It was love at first sight, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her. True love exists…

Last but certainly not least, when it comes to the art of acting… What’s next for… Keith Coogan?
I have just wrapped production on “Dawn Patrol” which reunites me with the director of “Toy Soldiers” Daniel Petrie, Jr., and have a film that is killing it on the festival circuit, “Waking”. I am also producing, writing, and directing my own projects, all while working on a cure for the zombie apocalypse… 2013 has been the best year for me, and I look forward to many more years in “the industry”… after all, show business is my life!

I want to thank Keith Coogan for taking time out of his busy schedule to do this interview and wish him the best in his future ventures and congratulate Kristen and him both on their up-coming wedding. Until next time, I hope you have enjoyed this interview as much as I have enjoyed bringing it to you. Now go watch a movie.

Posted in Interviews by Tony Northrup on September 1st, 2013 at %I:%M %p.

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