Fondly remembered for his awesome performances as heavy metal-loving Kenny, “the dishes are done, man” and love-struck Brad, “Thor’s a homo” in cult classics Adventures in Babysitting and Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, Coogan reflects on his experiences in Hollywood and brings us up to speed on his current projects.
HeyUGuys: What have you been up to lately?
I have been working on the “Monologue a Day Project”, also shooting the web series “Crafty”, and doing some writing for shorts and features I’d like to produce and direct.
HeyUGuys: How did you get into acting?
I was watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Sesame Street, Electric Company, Romper Room, and Villa Alegre! when I said to my self, “Hey, self! Wouldn’t it be fun to be one of those kids on the TV?” My mom thought it was a pretty good idea, too… and she instantly moved us from the Bay Area to Malibu… nice. Although, at first, we lived in very, very small places… with my mom cleaning houses and scrounging up just enough to keep us in town with a working car. She introduced me to my first agent, and I started with stand-in work, then eventually commercials and television guest-shots.
HeyUGuys: What advice would you give to anyone considering acting and what pressures did you face growing up in the industry?
I would advise anyone seriously interested in acting to study, train, and work as much as possible… You will know soon enough if it’s the right avenue for you. Kids don’t really feel the pressure, I would say the parents probably go through a lot more of the head-trip stuff than the kids. The kids do get very competitive, so you have to be willing to get in the trenches, take your hits, and slug it out if you want to be a star.
HeyUGuys: You starred in cult classics such as ‘Adventures in Babysitting’ and ‘Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead’ in the 80s and 90s. What are your memories of working on both of these?
Wow, those two films comprised about six months of my life, so there is quite a bit to cover on that one. I’ll stick to the basics… Adventures was one of the best films to work on… everyone got along great, and we had an absolute blast shooting it. A certain little actress was having a great time shooting the John Pruitt tow-truck scenes, as were we all, except her character was supposed to be quite the little thrill-seeker, and she made the choice to nearly cackle with delight when bouncing around the cab in danger, and the studio questioned her casting, they thought she couldn’t keep a straight face… Chris Columbus reminded them about the character, and the fact that she was supposed to be having a blast, and the studio let him get on with shooting his picture. He said he was surrounded with a great crew and cast, and he sort of went along for the ride, let everyone who had more experience add what he thought would work, since it was his first time out… he was one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with.
HeyUGuys: Do you keep in touch with any of the actors from AIB and DTMTBD?
Nope, but I wish I did keep in touch with all of them… terrific people, every single one. I did just see Kimmie Robertson at the New Beverly Cinema at a Zombie Double-Feature… she looks great, and has the same sparkly attitude.
HeyUGuys: Were there any memorable cut scenes/mishaps/funny moments during the filming of either of these movies?
In AIB they cut a doberman gang sequence at the garage scene with Thor, they also cut a Chicago Bears scenario… There was once a treasure chest, and a finale on a a bridge instead of a building…. none of these were ever filmed… and very little else that was shot wound up on the cutting room floor… we basically shot what we needed, and they just tightened it up a bit.. in fact, the Bus Stop scenes with the Hot Dog Vendor were added on the day to help flesh out the Brenda sequences. There were some pick-up shots we needed to catch one night on the El-Train, as the original shots were out of focus, but when we arrived at the location at 3:00 AM, there was no one from their Transportation Authority to open the gate for us to allow access to the train platform… so our stunt-guy pulled out his lock-pick kit, and we were in and out in less than an hour… so we basically stole a few shots in the middle of the night on the train that goes around the Loop in downtown Chicago.
DTMTBD was such a fun movie to shoot, a bit hot in Canyon Country, CA during the summer months, but very fun to shoot. It was like camp for film-folk. Christina Applegate was such a pro, we had a very smooth working relationship, and it seemed like we just went in and banged it out…. without ever really doubting ourselves… kinda cool that they were starting to let young actors take the lead in studio pictures, and I had the pleasure of working with not only the cast of AIB and DTMTBD, but also Book of Love and Toy Soldiers had stupendous young casts, and we all got along quite well, some friendships lasting to this day… even though we hardly ever see each other IRL.
HeyUGuys: I have ‘Babysitting Blues’ on my iPod and can’t help but laugh and smile at how funny that scene and song is. Was it as much fun to film?
I am calling the MP3 police on you! The Adventures in Babysitting soundtrack has never been released commercially, so you must be a music pirate!!!! Just kidding, the Babysitting Blues was recorded on a Sunday, then filmed on Monday and Tuesday. In three days we recorded with Albert Collins and the Icebreakers, then shot over 13,000 feet of film… which eventually was cut into the 5-minute blues bar scene. Also the same bar from Color of Money, FYI.
HeyUGuys: What are your feelings about the current slew of 80s remakes going on in Hollywood? Everything is being remade, revisited or rebooted – have you been contacted?
I love it… just don’t f*$k with the babysitter… you can remake it, but just don’t f*$k it up! I have reached out to Lynda Obst, and she said that they were still putting it together, and we’d have to see how we can fit at least the original four in the redux.
HeyUGuys: In ‘Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead’, your character, Kenny, learnt to make Belgian Waffles perfectly. Can you make them in real life?
But of course, I also make some jammin’ ribs, great meatloaf, killer carne asada tacos, and just about anything you can think of… I actually have become quite the chef, and I owe it all to Kenny… True story, I have had several fan letters telling me that Kenny was the inspiration for them to go to Culinary Academy… one is even a top chef in Miami! I think that’s pretty cool, at least I wasn’t the inspiration for a bunch of kids to go out and smoke weed… that was the point of taking the role, and the message I wanted to deliver… make good choices.
HeyUGuys: Do you think that movies and TV shows have evolved for the teenage audience since you played a teenager?
Holy sh*t! You’ve got sex, drugs, murder, betrayal, pregnancy, crime… all on kid-friendly shows… I don’t want to be Tipper Gore, but come on, people… we can do better than that, think of the children, not your own pocketbook.
HeyUGuys: Your body of work in TV and live TV ranges from ‘The Waltons’, ‘Love Boat’, ‘Fantasy Island’, ‘Mork and Mindy’ and ‘ChiPs’. Do you prefer working in TV or in the movies?
I prefer working.
HeyUGuys: Which role did you take most pride in doing?
Kenny, Brad, Mitch, Crutch, and Snuffy have been my favs.
HeyUGuys: Is there a role you regret not taking or one that you regret doing?
I’d love to work with many, many beautiful women.
HeyUGuys: What have your experiences been like with your fans over the years?
Just great… a bit creepy with the fan mail when I was a tween, but that’s how it goes… that’s another thing I failed to mention for those bright young stars out there… watch it with the sexualization that comes with the job… kids should still be kids.
HeyUGuys: What is the funniest prank/joke played on you or by you?
Mustard in my shoe at the wrap of AIB… that really just pissed me off, because I don’t have any idea what I did to deserve it… plus the culprit never claimed their work… coward.
HeyUGuys: If you could choose to have any superpower, which would you pick?
The ability see into the future, like only 15 seconds would be just fine.
HeyUGuys: If you could ask anyone (alive or dead) any question, who would it be and what would you ask?
I would ask the ‘Lost’ producers, “WTF”??!?!?!?!?
HeyUGuys: What’s your favourite movie genre?
Action-Adventure, but I’m also a sucker for Sci-Fi/Fantasy.
HeyUGuys: We love to recommend ‘Must-See Movies’ to our fans, so which would you recommend to them and why?
Brick, Brothers Bloom, Hurt Locker, Avatar, and the Lovely Bones… all good examples of solid film-making… none of this romantic comedy crap, please!
HeyUGuys: What parts of your personality do you think people would be shocked the most to learn about?
I cuss like a sailor, I smoked cigarettes for many years, but quit and have never looked back, also, I ride a motorcycle… in Los Angeles… so there ya go.
HeyUGuys: What is the best and worst movie recommendation someone has given you?
Best was ‘Brick’… worst was ‘Garfield 2’.
HeyUGuys: If you could choose a movie title for your life story, what would that be?
‘The Coogan Act’
HeyUGuys: What has been your greatest achievement to date?
Still crazy after all these years.
HeyUGuys: Name one goal in your life that you will never let go of until you accomplish it?
An Academy Award
HeyUGuys: What can we next expect to see from Keith Coogan?
Zombie Bloodhunt… in 3D.
There are many injustices in Hollywood and it boggles our mind as to why Coogan hasn’t been catapulted into the stardom he so deserves. An amazingly gifted, multi-talented, intensely funny and personable actor, we want to see more and demand more! To follow Keith’s latest projects, please visit his Hollywood Kids blog and Monologue a Day project inspired from the hit movie Julie and Julia.
Our sincere, heartfelt thanks to Keith for his time. We wish him all the very best and hope to catch up again soon.
Remember… “nobody leaves this place without singing the blues!”…