Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Chuck from Friday The 13th Part 3-D: Actor David Katims talks with TV STORE ONLINE



"Chuck" from Friday The 13th Part 3-D talks with TV STORE ONLINE about working on the fan favorite of the F13 franchise as well as his work as a stand-up comic.

TV STORE ONLINE:  One of the things that many F13 fans might not be aware of is the fact that you've had this long term interest in stand-up comedy...

KATIMS:  Yes, I've done stand-up for 11 years now.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Did you have an interest in stand-up come before or after you appeared in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3-D [1982]?

KATIMS:  That's actually one of the regrets of my life because when I was living in Los Angeles and pursuing acting I did not pursue stand-up comedy.  I really wish I had.  At the time I thought that I could perform but I didn't think that I could write myself enough material.  I live up in Seattle today and I've been doing occasional stand-up here and there.  I've had some fun gigs and I've even performed at the Improv in Los Angeles.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  Even though you didn't pursue it until later on...I'm sure those comic sensibilities have always been with you...

KATIMS:  Well....As a kid I was the class clown.  I have older brothers and sisters so I was always trying to be funny so I could get their attention.

TV STORE ONLINE:  So were there any comedy films that you saw when you were younger that perhaps influenced your decision to become an actor or comic?

KATIMS:
  Well, I don't know if one film comes to mind.  But I loved watching The Three Stooges, Laurel & Hardy and Jerry Lewis for sure.  That zany kind of comedy is wonderful. Also, I liked Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart and Woody Allen.  Then Saturday Night Live [1975-Current] too because I absolutely love sketch comedy.   I think I've seen every single episode of Saturday Night Live ever made.

TV STORE ONLINE: 
How did FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3-D come to you?

KATIMS:  Well I got into the acting game kind of late.  At the time I was getting a degree in psychology at UCLA.  I was almost done but I needed a couple electives to graduate and one of the classes I took was an acting class because I thought it would be an easy A.   The first time I had to get up in front of the class I was terrified.    I had been confident as a kid but when I had to get up in front of these kids that had probably been acting since high school...You either run away from a situation like that or you face it as a challenge.   I decided after school that I would give myself 2 years to get a paying gig as an actor and it was about six months later that I got this reoccurring role as this sort of mental patient on the soap opera General Hospital [1963-Current].

How FRIDAY THE 13TH happened was that I had a friend of mine who had went in to audition for F13.  He had a reoccurring role on a big television series then.  When he went in for F13, the producers wouldn't tell him if the film was going to be a union or non-union film.    Because my friend was on this big television series he couldn't do a non-union film so when the producers asked him if he knew anyone that would like to audition he suggested that I go in to audition for the producers and that's how I got the part.

TV STORE ONLINE:    Can you take me through the audition...

KATIMS:   I went in and read and then I got asked to come and read with different girls several times and they hadn't even told me if I had gotten the role or not at that point.  They decided pretty early on that they wanted a male and female kind of Cheech and Chong, and one thing that I could do was dialects.   So I did that sort of Tommy Chong kind of accent that he does in that character and they liked it.   The producers had called me back at least five times before I got cast.  I read with so many girls.  There was this Hispanic actress that I read with that was really good and I thought for sure that they were going to cast her, then Rachel Howard the actress who played "Chili" in the film called me up and asked if I wanted to meet with her because she had been cast in the film.   I had never read with her in all of the times that the producers had asked me to come back  for them...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  So going back to General Hospital...What was that whole experience like for you?  It seems like working on a daily soap would be very rigorous.

KATIMS:  I was on it when the big story line was about "Luke and Laura".   It's kinda funny how I got the part.  When I was a kid my mother had a cooking show on television and one of the things she taught me growing up was how to make a pie from scratch.     I had met what I thought was an actress on General Hospital but she turned out to be a writer on the show.  We were talking about sweets and I asked her if she wanted a pie that was the closest thing possible to the human orgasm. She said, "Yes".  I told her that I'd like to met her casting director on the show and she agreed.   I just had a very small part on the show but I was always called back when they needed a foil to interrupt the mental ward on the show.   It's one of the hardest things you'll have to ever do. It's difficult because of all of the dialogue memorization an actor has to do.  The story line doesn't change much from day-to-day.

TV STORE ONLINE:  As for FRIDAY THE 13TH...Are the actors allowed to do an improvisation with their dialogue...There's some fun banter with yourself and Rachel Howard as Chili....

KATIMS:  I had hoped to do some on the film...You could change a line here or there is all.  Again, originally they had wanted this sort of Cheech & Chong thing and that's what I had done with "Chuck" up until we started shooting.  When we started shooting the director Steve Miner told me that he no longer wanted me to do that sort of Tommy Chong accent that I had done in the auditions.   I was kinda of disappointed with that because the way I had envisioned the character was that it would be really funny if he kept evading his own death because he was always stoned.   Chuck is in most of the film and I thought it would really funny to add in physical comedy.  He was always stoned so I thought it would be funny if he evades his death by tripping and falling down as an ax was flying toward his head or something like that.   I had ideas for the character but they just didn't take me up on them...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you remember what the first scene that you shot was for FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3-D was?

KATIMS:  I do.   It was the scene where Chuck and Chilli and the others are sitting in the back of the van smoking pot and the van looks like it's on fire.  That was the first scene that I did.  I had never worked on a major film before, so what I liked the most about the whole experience was that they had a great caterer on the shoot.   I mean we would have stuff like prime rib and lobster at lunch time.  We had that on my first day!  We ate very well.

TV STORE ONLINE:   When you went in to audition were you aware of the previous two F13 films and their success?

KATIMS:   No I wasn't and remember when I went in to audition they weren't even calling the film FRIDAY THE 13TH.   The originally working title was "Crystal Japan".   The producers didn't want anyone to know that they were working on the third installment.   So they didn't tell anyone auditioning that they were auditioning for F13 3-D.  Once I was cast they told me what we were shooting and that it was in fact going to be a union shoot.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did the success of FRIDAY THE 13TH 3-D impact you?

KATIMS:   I didn't have the same experience as others that were in the film I'm sure but I did enjoy a couple minutes of fame.  I had went up to see my family in Spokane, Washington and a theater there was showing the film and they got wind that I was in town.  So they sent a reporter out to see me and interview me.   Then they arranged for me to come to see the film and afterward I signed autographs for about an hour and a half after the screening.   It was really fun.  It really was a huge success.  The same weekend that FRIDAY THE 13TH 3-D opened up in theaters TEMPEST [1982] opened up with John Cassavetes and we beat that at the box office...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  Going back to that first scene you shot in F13....Your character and the others eat all of their drugs when they think that the police are going to pull them over...

KATIMS:  Right...The pot that we all ate was actually made out of barley.  It wasn't great tasting either.   The first time I had to smoke a joint in the film...It was made out of tobacco.  I wasn't a cigarette smoker so I just couldn't smoke it without coughing.   I went to a health food store and found these fake cigarettes. Why a health food store was selling fake cigarettes I'll never know, but you could smoke them and you could inhale them without it hurting your lungs.   When I came in on the next day of shooting the prop guy had rolled like fifty joints out these fake health food store cigarettes.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How many takes did you have to do on the eating of the pot/barley?

KATIMS:  I don't remember a lot of takes of that.  There were a few though just because there were so many people in the back of the van and everyone had to eat the pot in a close-up.   There were a lot of takes with the scenes that involved the 3-D.   That was very time consuming and it required a lot of takes because they had to get a focus in two different lens otherwise the 3-D wouldn't work.  The 3-D technology they were using at the time was new and it was much better than anything that had been used before it.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   Was it two different cameras shooting criss-cross like in traditional 3-D or are you saying that one camera had two different lens on it?

KATIMS:  It was one camera with two different lens.  It was a very weird set-up.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  I'm sure the passing of the joint or when your character breaks the fourth wall and offers the joint to the film's audience would be a good example of that?

KATIMS:  Right, yeah.  That took a lot of time to do.   There were days where I had a call time and I'd show up on the set in my costume and I would end up not even working because they were behind due to how difficult the 3-D process was for it.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Last question....Are you surprised how big the F13 film franchise has become and furthermore are you surprised at the fan support that they've given the film since it's initial release.

KATIMS:  No only am I surprised but I'm delighted.  I so appreciate the fans because without them I wouldn't even have the recognition that I have from being in the film.    I enjoy how shocked the fans are that I meet at the various movie conventions I've been too because as a character actor I look nothing like Chuck from FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3-D.  They're very surprised because they expect me to be this older guy with a beard and hair and of course I don't have a beard and I barely have hair on my head.   The fans are so great and terrific.  FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3-D came out thirty years ago and there isn't a week that goes by that I don't get at least one fan letter or an email or something from a fan from somewhere in the world.  That's whats shocking about it. But it's so delightful to have been a part of the film.