With so much on his plate, it takes me a while to understand that the heightened go-go-go energy with which Koechner shakes my hand, strides into his kitchen, cracks some eggs into a frying pan, and flings the shells into the sink behind him while barely breaking eye contact with me is not
because his life is singularly frenzied right now. He's pretty much always like this. You would have to be when you're the father of five kids aged 3 to 14 and your wife is in the middle of getting her masters degree in spiritual psychology.
"We're both from the Midwest, we're both from large families of six children," Koechner says of himself and his wife Leigh, as he slams a rather large knife into a block of cold leftover lasagna he then scatters into the eggs. "Chaos is not foreign to us."
Koechner's entire home could be described as an exercise in well-managed pandemonium. Four dry-erase calendars hang on the kitchen wall keeping track of the family's schedules: one for dad, one for mom, one for the kids, and one for the following month. Children's artwork and family portraits claim pretty much the rest of the wall space in the kitchen, as well as the dining room and living room — all of which are clean and yet unmistakably care-worn over the 10 years the family has lived there. The large TV in the living room remains tuned to a Nickelodeon cartoon even though Koechner's youngest daughter has long stopped watching it and turned her attention to Koechner's assistant, the one in charge of maintaining all those calendars. But while some Hollywood types would shy away from admitting an assistant is even there, Koechner leans in close to my recorder after I ask him how he and his wife are able to make their lives work.
"I know it's going to sound awful," he says. "but it's because I care
, and because we want happiness
, and to ensure happiness, you hire
people sometimes to make sure that everyone's happy
and taken care of."
Keeping a family machine this unwieldy running well in modern Los Angeles is no simple feat. Koechner has reliably stolen scenes in a handful of successful movies (Paul
, Get Smart
, Thank You for Smoking
), and he's appeared on several TV shows (The Office
, Pushing Daisies
). But while the SNL
alumnus' face is currently plastered everywhere to remind people that Anchorman 2
really does exist as a major motion picture, Koechner would be the first to tell you he is far from a movie star. He has had to adapt to whatever opportunities have come his way. "Hannah Montana
to Piranha 3DD
, that's some fucking range!" he says with a belly laugh. "Look, man, I've got five kids. We have a life. People think once you do one movie, you're set for life. What are you, crazy? I guess you could be if you had a great contract on the first Star Wars
Koechner turns back to his breakfast, which is almost ready. He scowls a bit. "I was going to have fruit," he says, "because I'm trying to make sure I fit into the suits I got for all these [press] events." He recalls the time a good buddy told him that after you turn 50, staying in shape becomes exponentially more difficult. "I mean, it's like Alice in Wonderland
, right? You must run twice as fast to remain exactly where you are. So that's what I'm doing."
Welcome to the life of a working actor. This is what Koechner has learned along the way.