In November 2015, I was lucky enough to meet a lot of my favorite celebrities at RewindCon, a convention in Bloomingdale, IL. One of those celebrities was none other than Keith Coogan, known most for his work in all of those babysitting movies. He played Brad in Adventures in Babysitting and Kenny in Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead.
Keith and his wife, Kristen "Pinky" Coogan were nice enough to chat with me about convention life, behind the scenes facts, how they met, growing up on network television and upcoming projects.
LeeAnn Yops: Tell me what’s been going on since RewindCon?
Keith Coogan: We just realized that RewindCon was a year ago now.
Pinky Coogan: You would know if you follow her Instagram because she posted “1 year ago” pics.
KC: Oh, I think I saw that I saw that post. We’ve probably had 8 or 9 shows since RewindCon.
PC: We went to a show last December, it was a 4-day show and by the last show, people said, “Jump ship! Nobody is getting paid.” We wondered what was happening and then we went to another show where 29 of the guests dropped out a week before.
KC: We went because there were still fans who bought tickets and it was nonrefundable.
PC: Yeah, we still went and had a great time.
KC: It was me and Scooby.
PC: Matthew Lillard.
KC: We got a lot of action. I was so happy those other stars didn’t show up because we had a great line.
LY: How do the conventions work? Is there a timeframe of when people drop out or when you book your appearance?
KC: It’s all over the board. Sometimes, people will call a few weeks out saying they have a spot open, but usually there is a few months lead time because they have to put the word out.
PC: Some guests book a year in advance. We also look at shows and see as people drop out if there are spots available to attend them.
KC: Especially shows where we would be a good fit with other guests. I wouldn’t fit well with a soap star convention or one with 70s stars, but if there are a lot of 80s and 90s stars, I’ll see if there is an opportunity. RewindCon was perfect because 80% of the fans were familiar with me. We’ve been to shows where they do a really low entrance to get into the show, it’s maybe 8 or 10 bucks to get in. Some people have no idea who they’re meeting. They just come in and shake your hand. They’re not there to buy autographs or get selfies. Sometimes they see the picture opportunities and say, “Sure! I’ll get a picture.” We always like to get in on the ground floor if it’s a new show. We saw three shows fail last year. I don’t always receive a guarantee for these shows. We actually spend our own money for the merchandise and travel.
PC: Yeah, we’ll drive or fly there and ask for a table space.
KC: Pinky has friends in every single city/state. We always have a place to stay. We usually do well enough (with autographs and picture sales) to cover our travel costs.
PC: We have so much merchandise too.
KC: We always try to get in with the promoter in case the show is a success and we can come back. Pinky is great with helping me with the conventions. Pinky basically stalked one of the owners of Salt Lake ComicCon, Dan Farr for four years.
PC: I really wanted to get into that show. People would say, “You’re never going to get into that show.” I said, “Just you watch.”
KC: There was a guy who had 150 clients and over 5 years was only able to get 3 of his clients into Salt Lake ComicCon. He asked, “How did you get in?”
PC: I had been emailing the guy for a year saying that all we needed was a table, we weren’t doing any press.
KC: Dan Farr was at another convention that we were at where it was slow on day 2. He saw the Adventures in Babysitting backdrop at our table and saw how fans were having fun at our table. His wife ended up being a big Adventures in Babysitting fan.
LY: Well, I show that picture any time I’m given the opportunity so I understand. All the time. Adventures in Babysitting is brought up often, especially living in Chicago with the building. I went to a networking event over summer and this guy pointed out the Adventures in Babysitting building. I said, “I just met Brad from that movie” and then showed him the picture. And I recently moved and as we wrapped up with the movers, one of them said, “The dishes are done, man!” You’re brought up very often and I show it off.
KC: An interesting note, it used to be the Smurfit-Stone Building (it’s now called the Crain Communications Building), it was used in the 80s movie, Running Scared with Billy Crystal, it’s the only building in downtown Chicago designed by a woman.
LY: And it’s also referred to as the “Vagina Building.”
KC: Yeah, with all of the phallic structures out there, this building is a diamond structure, gently sloped because it represents the female energy and is perfect for a movie that has a female protagonist. It’s a girl movie, so why not center around the only building designed and built by a woman in Chicago? I learned that two years ago and I think it’s a neat little detail. The movie was produced by Deborah Hill and Lynda Obst so let’s say the movie wasn’t run by Weinsteins. Let’s just put it that way.
LY: Adventures in Babysitting was your first movie role, right?
KC: Yeah. My family didn’t count Fox & the Hound because I wasn’t on camera (he voiced Young Tod in Fox & the Hound) and it was animated.
LY: Can you tell me more about working on the movie, any behind the scenes facts? What it was like working with the cast and if you still interact with them?
KC: Everyone was really professional and they knew it was a great opportunity. It was an honor to be one of the main four leads. It was really Lisa as we call Elisabeth Shue, if you’re in the inner circle, you get to call her Lisa. It was a big deal in ’87 for Disney/Touchstone Pictures to throw whatever their budget was, $8 or $10 million to a 23-year-old young woman and she handled it like a pro. We did two weeks of rehearsal which was so key for Adventures in Babysitting. During that rehearsal, they started rewriting a lot of the earlier stuff. When he sold the movie, David Simkins wrote a quick outline and then it was picked up. He then wrote the whole script. With the first script, Disney/Touchstone said, “Fine, we’ll do it,” but they knew it needed work. As we worked on it in rehearsal, they got rid of the sillier elements. We did a lot of improv, had a lot of fun, that’s where it came together and they made the movie they wanted to make. In those first two weeks, there were things like Sara’s toy box got mixed up with a box of plutonium and it was hanging over a bridge over the Chicago river while the bad guys chased them. They grounded it more and made it more relatable. After our break from rehearsal, we came there to work. We shot maybe 4-5 pages a day. Chris Columbus, the Director, had great camera skills. He had a great team. Within an hour in the Director seat, he felt comfortable with what he was making.
PC: Tell her about Thor.
KC: Originally it was going to be He-Man and Chris Columbus said, “Who the hell is He-Man?” It was going to be a comic book character and they had to check what rights they had and they came back with the costs of Spiderman, Captain America and all of this other stuff. Then down at the bottom of the cost aisle, there was a little unknown superhero that no one was doing anything with called Thor. They decided that they would have fun with the Thor thing. Who would have thought that Thor would now become a thing? I just love that one of the first on-screen versions of Thor was played by Vincent D’Onofrio.
LY: Do you keep in touch with the cast?
KC: Here and there. We saw Maia Brewton recently. We had a 30th anniversary screening in L.A. It was a double feature with Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (*Editors note: A.K.A. Heaven*), and it was the first time that I had seen Maia in 25 years.
LY: That’s awesome.
KC: Yeah, it had been a long time.
PC: And then we saw Anthony Rapp (Daryl) last year.
KC: Yep. We saw Anthony last year when he was doing “If/Then.” It was great to see him.
PC: He took us backstage like ballers.
LY: I just put together that the guy who played Mike (“So Cool” license plate) was the dad in Get Out.
KC: Bradley Whitford? Good for him.
LY: Were there any onset romances?
KC: I wanted there to be.
LY: Did you have a real-life crush on Elisabeth Shue?
KC: Yeah, I asked her out. I think it was during rehearsals. I said, “Let’s go out to dinner.” We went to the restaurant in the hotel lobby.
PC: Big spender.
KC: Yeah, it was Canadian money. I didn’t know what it was, take a pink bill, take a blue bill. It was basically Monopoly money to me at the time. There was a moment where I looked across the table and see Elisabeth Shue, I was 16, she was maybe 22 or 23 years old. I don’t know what I was thinking. I thought that sometimes there were onset romances, I said “I don’t know if you’re seeing anybody, but maybe we could date” and she just laughs in my face. It broke my heart while filming the entire movie, but I kept that nugget of getting rejected by Elisabeth Shue with me and used it in my role.
LY: Well, it came across great. One of my favorite movies is Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. Can you tell me about your experiences working on that movie and with Christina Applegate?
KC: Well, it was a very hot summer working in Valencia, CA. It’s about 40 minutes north of L.A. It’s in a desert and was terribly, terribly hot. It was a three month shoot and also had a pretty healthy budget and rode on the shoulders of young actors. Christina Applegate was coming off maybe the second season of Married… with Children and put on 15 pounds to fluff up her figure and make her look a little younger and had to take it off at the end of summer to get back into her Kelly Bundy outfits. I had been friends with Christina for many years before filming. We ran around some of the same circles and there was a “Mini-Oscars” where young actors would get awards and Christina would dance, and by the way the Pussycat Dolls used to rehearse in Christina Applegate’s garage. For years, we knew that Christina had this dancing ability and would show it off at the award shows and events. Married… with Children was a hit creating a network for Fox with the Tracy Ullman Show and The Simpsons, it was funny, her assistant, Lori Depp, was actually Johnny Depp’s ex-wife. I was starstruck that it was Johnny Depp’s ex-wife. Christina had someone assisting her because we would film for 14-16 hours a day and it was hard to do normal tasks like pick up dry cleaning. She would run her lines with her assistant and was probably the most prepared person I worked with onset outside of Jon Cryer. Christina is a comedy genius. She knows her stuff so well. When we worked together, we would talk with an inside code and comedic beats and that was the pure joy getting to do the work with a friend. I tried out for a series, “In the Heat of the Night” it was about a cop that worked nights, but he had two kids and the two kids were played by Christina Applegate and Jonathan Ward. I auditioned for that role and Jonathan Ward got it and he auditioned for the role of Brad in Adventures in Babysitting and I got it. I almost worked with Christina Applegate before Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. I originally auditioned for the role of Bryan.
LY: The love role, right?
KC: I auditioned for the Clown Dog boy originally, but I really liked the Kenny character. Everyone told me I was too old for it. I talked to my agent and he said, “Nah, you’re right for this other part.” So, I got a wig, skulls and torn jeans. I originally went in for the Clown Dog role, but while auditioning, I asked can I come back and show you something in a few minutes. I went and changed in my car and came back in by kicking the door open and said in the Kenny voice, “Aha! Who’s in charge?” I took off the wig and they realized that I had just auditioned for the other role, but enjoyed my take on it. They had real heavy metal stoners auditioning for the role, but they went with me. I had a crew cut at the time and they paid really good money to have these handmade human hair-laced wigs that were $3,000 a piece for Kenny’s wigs. They were getting the wigs made and they take a cast of your head, I looked up and saw a picture of my grandfather, Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester on the Addams Family TV show) on the wall. The wigs were made by Wigs by Ziggy, who was notorious in the industry. I said, “You have a picture of my grandfather on the wall.” Turns out that he had done some toupee pieces for him in the 60s because his PR people said that he had to wear them out in public and it was so funny that the same guy who made my grandfather’s toupee, made Kenny’s wig.
LY: With the family’s influence, you’ve been acting forever.
KC: I was 5 or 6. It was right around my birthday, the beginning of 1976, I started working, not under “Coogan.” My mom wanted me to make my own name for myself and wanted to make sure I wasn’t just getting roles because I was Jackie Coogan’s grandson. I actually used my birth name. I worked for 10 years under Keith Mitchell with movies of the week, guest specials, voiceover work. My grandfather died when I was 14 in 1984, I took a little pause, focused on school, went to high school and that’s where I learned some preparation techniques. I turned around and used them in the next movie I was up for which was Adventures in Babysitting. I had done a lot of TV work so I knew my way around a set.
LY: You have some very memorable quotes from your movies. I know personally that if I accomplish a project or finish parallel parking, I say “The dishes are done, man!” Do you actually say this yourself or was it just for the movie? Was it improvised or written in?
KC: We don’t know, actually. I ran across the script a couple of years ago and reread it. I found the scene and there’s no dialogue in it. It’s a ¼ page and it says, “Kenny is on the roof with his friends doing the dishes.” I don’t remember who suggested the line. I don’t know how it happened. I do know that after the movie was done, they had us do the dialogue replacement, the looping where you have to rerecord it if the dialogue was bad and they did have me record a part in the scene right before the roof. Christina Applegate says something like, “mow the law, take out the trash and don’t forget to do the dishes.” When we first shot the scene, I’m on the couch sleeping and they had me loop in, “I’ll do the dishes” as a setup. I don’t know if it was from the Director on the crane saying, “Say this!” or a last-minute add or a script revision. I don’t know who made it up. It could’ve been me.
LY: Well, I love it either way. So many people say it.
KC: I think the line was included at the end of the trailer. They advertised the hell out of Don’t Tell Mom. People who didn’t even see the movie were exposed to that line or heard about it. It took years and years for me to lean into it. People would say it to me here or there, but it wasn’t until recently when Pinky said, “You know as a fan, sometimes people want more than a picture. They might want a magnet or shirt or this or that. Let’s make all of this stuff for fans so we’re not just selling pictures.” At conventions, every other actor comes with only a box of pictures and that’s it. We like to have lots of stuff available for fans at different price points and stuff. “The Dishes Are Done” is on most of our products.
LY: Yeah, Aleen (my friend who also went to RewindCon) and I have the aprons.
KC: Don’t Tell Mom is very quotable. “Sweet or Dry? Um, I’ll have a little bit of both.” “Right on top of that, Rose!” I was lucky to be part of that. People tell me all the time that they say it. Fans will say that their wife will be in the kitchen and they’ll hear them say, “The dishes are done, man!” from the other room. I love it. It will go on my headstone – “Here lies Keith Coogan. The dishes are done, man!”
LY: Any other behind the scenes info from Don’t Tell Mom?
KC: Oh, god. We nearly burned the house down next door. We sent the family who lived at the house we were filming at to some hotel, but the family next door, they were recent lottery winners so they had all of these ATVs and trampolines in their backyard. They had just gone on vacation. While they were on vacation, we had set up a foil over their lights so we could film and then the crew forgot about the foil. The neighbors came back from vacation and turned the lights on and at about 2:00 a.m., the security guard on set noticed that the neighbor’s house was smoking. He noticed that one of the foils had started to catch on fire. It would have been soot.
PC: Oh, they had money! They were lottery winners!
KC: They were lottery winners! The movie was shot near where they shoot the game show, Wipeout so the community is really used to filming. The house itself was seen on screen before. It was the house from the TV show, “Just the Ten of Us.”
LY: What are some of the current projects that you’re working on?
KC: Well, now I play a lot of skeezy fellas. Two innovative films that hit the festivals now and are trying to be sold, in one I play a Meth Cook and the other I play a really rapey Talent Agent. I mean, that’s a little redundant these days. It’s (the latter movie mentioned) based on a true story. The guy who put together this film comes from money, I guess, he wants to be an actor so he wrote the semi-autobiographical film. I asked him on the set about how much was true and he said pretty much all of it. He came to town, he was taken advantage of financially, physically, just terrible, but he was still in town and wanted to be an actor so he made a movie about it. I didn’t know how the movie was going to turn out. I was cast last in the film. It was 9 o’clock at night and I got a call from my friend and he said, “Hey, can you show up on set tomorrow morning? There’s some gay sex in it. No big deal.” I said, “Alright, I’ll do it.” I didn’t know if I was still going to be in the movie. I ended up filming more scenes than originally cast for while on set and they kept everything. Not only was I not cut out of the movie…
PC: Oh, he steals the movie.
KC: I’m the bad guy and I guess I steal the movie. The crowd that I saw it with loved to hate my character. Really hate it. I was so over the top with the character, a real ham, but it worked with this piece. I’m dying to get my hands on some of that footage to put it on my reel so I can get more roles like that. I was filming on The Last Tycoon, but my footage was cut out. I did two days of filming there. I played a real live person from Paramount Pictures and MGM Studios, they were talking about the movie studios taking on Germany and the Nazis. I had this great speech in the film and they cut it out. I was so upset. You see me on screen, they paid me, I get the credit, it was great, but my line was no longer in the movie. Then I got a call, we were at dinner and my friend, Corey Feldman calls me and says, “Hey, I’m producing a movie called ‘The Tale of Two Coreys.’” It’s about Corey Haim and Corey Feldman growing up. We were at the Sizzler when he called. They had me audition for a bad guy and I was trying to think who would be a bad guy in that story. I auditioned and I didn’t get it, but they said “We love you,” but I can’t really go into other reasons because of the nondisclosure agreement I signed, but they cast me in another role where I ended up playing another scumbag. I’m in one scene and I don’t know if I was in the same working mode that I was in the movie that I played the skeezy agent, I did what my instincts told me to do and tried to crack into a spot where the audience might still root for me.
PC: They’re not going to root for you in this.
KC: Errr… they’re not going to root for me in this. It’s for Lifetime and should be airing in the next couple of months. (Editor’s note: It has already aired, but you may be able to find it online or On Demand. I watched it and thought Keith played a great scumbag.)
KC: Corey Feldman has been very forthright about what he encountered growing up in this industry, plus I grew up with him side-by-side in the industry and it’s devastating to learn that it happened to anybody.
LY: Yeah, I read “Coreyography” and it was a tough read because of the severity of what happened, especially with the downfall of all of it and Corey Haim’s death. Are they making a Lifetime movie based on “Coreyography?”
KC: No. There was another book written about the Coreys and they are combining that with the parts of “Coreyography” where they talk about the encounters in the industry. Corey Feldman signed off on some of the rights to it, but he’s still going to do his feature which is based off of “Coreyography” from what I understand because there’s a little bit more than what this movie goes into. He told so much in “Coreyography” that I was fascinated by it. It was weird because I was always on the outside looking in, wondering what it was like to be in that fishbowl, to be that famous and in demand, to command the type of payment they were getting… Corey Feldman was making more than me, Sean Astin, all of these young actors combined. Their rates were astronomical. They really were huge stars at the time. I remember auditioning for License to Drive, Dream a Little Dream, all for the Corey Haim roles, but they loved to see the two Coreys together on screen. They had a great chemistry.
LY: I do love hearing stories about that too of what could’ve been. I call it the Guttenberg Effect kind of like the Butterfly Effect because I heard that Steve Guttenberg almost got the role of Venkman in Ghostbusters and think about what could’ve been. Do you have any tales of that?
KC: Wow. Well, Ghostbusters would have been a completely different film. That’s weird. That’s like not casting Paul Reiser in Aliens. There are certain people who are going to be that role.
KC: That’s why casting is so important. There’s two kinds of casting. There’s stunt casting where you hire a personality, you hire someone infamous, or someone you already know and then there’s casting actors, the people who change and become someone. I’d like to think I’m the latter.
PC: We saw Matt LeBlanc at a Cavalia show and he mentioned how you two had met in the past. Keith said that he auditioned for the role of Chandler on Friends and he saw Matthew Perry…
KC: Yeah, I saw Matthew Perry and I thought, “Well, this was written for him.” Matt LeBlanc said, “Well, he didn’t get it when they first started it. They cast someone else.
PC: They cast Craig Bierko.
KC: Craig Bierko! Can you believe that?
PC: Do you watch Sex & the City? He played the musician who played Carrie like a cello. He’s a great character actor, but he’s not Chandler Bing.
KC: I auditioned for E.T., Stand By Me, The Goonies, Gremlins…
PC: Here’s the thing, we’ll be at these shows. We did a show with Corey Feldman and Sean Astin and they all come to the table and look at the pictures and say, “What did you beat me out for? What did you get cast for that I wanted?” And I thought, “Are you frickin’ serious, Sean Astin should not be woeing anything.”
KC: Will Wheaton came over to my table and said, “I really wanted Adventures in Babysitting.” And I said, “Well, Will, you had Stand By Me.” Will said, “Would you trade?” I replied, “No because Adventures in Babysitting is mine and Stand By Me was his.” He said, “Well, there you go.”
PC: You’re all supposed to get the roles you’re supposed to get.
KC: Anthony Rapp had Hiding Out on his coffee table while we were shooting Adventures in Babysitting. I said, “What’s that?” Anthony said, “Oh, it’s a part that’s just like Daryl so I’m not interested.” I thought, “Well, let me call my agent.” I called my agent and got Hiding Out. I wouldn’t have gotten the role if Anthony Rapp was reading for it and didn’t want it.
PC: They don’t give up the rivalry. That’s what amuses me. No matter how big or small they are, there’s still the rivalry. Sean Astin was still upset that you (Keith) got a CHiPS episode.
KC: Yeah, Sean was upset that I got a CHiPS episode that his dad directed. Sean said, “You got that episode of CHiPS.” I said, “Well, you got Rudy.”
LY: I also wanted to ask you about working with Shannen Doherty. My site is mostly dedicated to Beverly Hills, 90210. What was it like working with Shannen?
KC: She’s such a pro. I have no idea where this reputation comes from. I think it may have come from people who haven’t been doing it as long as Shannen had. Shannen already had two series under her belt, tons of guest appearances, and film stuff when 90210 came out. She was a veteran on that set.
LY: For sure.
KC: She probably said things like, “We don’t need that shot, you’re taking too much time here, come on let’s move it along” because she knew how a set was supposed to be run while other people thought she wasn’t in charge. She’s someone who has an amazing amount of experience. I did a 21 Jump Street episode with Shannen, she played my sister and I have worked with several women who the industry has described as “difficult.” I’ve worked with Sean Young, Sally Kirkland, and Shannen Doherty. All three were exemplary in their professionalism, dedication, how much work they put into it and their results on screen. I think that several people have a problem with strong women. Sorry, I’m saying it. It’s just the way it is. I had been friends with Shannen for years. I was at her “Sweet 16” birthday party. It was about 3 or 4 years after that and we were on “Jump Street” together up in Vancouver going nuts and we got to work with the youngest Director, Tucker Gates who was 21 when he directed that. Now he’s a big TV Director
PC: We saw her a few years ago.
KC: Yeah, we saw Shannen a few years ago at an Animal Rights Demonstration downtown in L.A.
PC: She was protesting the dolphins on Valentine’s Day.
LY: (laughs) That’s very specific.
KC: Holly Marie Combs was there too so we said “Hi.” Shannen’s a sweetheart. We hope that she’s feeling well. She’s just wonderful. I loved working with her. I had a blast on that set.
PC: The first time that I met Luke Perry was at Disneyland when I was 17. The whole cast of 90210 was there. The show had just started so no one knew who they were. I had just used Luke Perry as an example in my Honor’s English class as an “iconic hero” and I referred to him as Dylan McKay in the project. I didn’t even use his real name. I saw him at Disneyland and I talked to him for a long time. I didn’t get an autograph or a picture thinking “I didn’t want to bother him” and then I regretted it for 20 years.
KC: I’ve tried to share with Pinky where I think the line is for approaching people, like if they’re eating dinner. She has pictures with maybe 3,000 people or something like that and people constantly ask her, “Hey, Pinky, how do you get pictures with all of these famous people?” Her reply is always, “I ask” and that’s it. She finds a way to get near them and asks if she can get a picture. Worst thing they can do is ignore her or say no.
PC: And if they say, “No,” sometimes it’s a good story.
KC: It will be a good story and she’ll keep trying on them. She’ll think, “Maybe we’ll get them next time. Maybe they’ll be promoting a different movie where they have to talk to the fans.” That’s where we have met a lot of people at these “For Your Consideration” events – Q and As, meet the fans, etc. Then we get to benefit from that.
LY: When did you first fall into taking pictures with celebrities? You said you were at Disneyworld and you regretted not getting the picture or autograph. At what point did it change?
PC: Well, it actually started when I was 12. I wrote letters to Ricky Schroder, Jason Bateman and Sean Astin and I invited them to a party at my house.
LY: I love it! I love it.
PC: The fan club sent me a flyer saying that Jason Bateman was in a play. It was in Hollywood. My mom said that she would take me. It was three hours to get there each way. We ended up talking to somebody and there was a girl who got me a picture with Jason at the end. They were the funniest pictures I ever took. I had my hand clutched around him like I’m never going to let him go. That was the first one that saw outside of seeing a soap star at a mall. Later, I was at a cheerleading competition when I was 16 and I saw Brand from the Goonies, Josh Brolin, I took pictures with him and then I saw the cast of 90210. I was from a small town so these were big things. I got a picture with Seinfeld in ’93 at a baseball game with a disposable camera and it was one of those “Inside/Outside” ones and I developed it and it was all black.
PC: I got divorced when I was 26/27. I was married for “half a second.” I got divorced because I felt really trapped and I thought, “If I could do anything in the world, it would be to move to Italy.” So, I moved to Italy for a few months and then I came back and thought, “If I could do anything else, what could I do?” I said, “I want to work for the Sundance Film Festival.” So, I went in, applied and got hired at the Sundance Film Festival. That first year, I didn’t know what in the hell I was doing. I was just happy to be in the same room as a celebrity, to have my little disposable camera to take pictures of the celebrities. I was at a screening with James Le Gros, Roach from Point Break. I was taking a picture of him sitting behind me in the theater and he said, “Wait til after the movie and I’ll take one with you.” I thought, “What? You can do that?” It didn’t even occur to me that you could do that, even though I got some pictures when I was younger. He waited for me after the movie and took a picture with me.
PC: I was on staff and in charge of the parties and people would want to trade things with me. I ended up trading with a person from Miramax for Project Greenlight thing so that I could meet Matt and Ben, but Ben was in rehab so I only met half, but I was stoked because I got a picture with Matt Damon. I walked out the door and Robin Williams was there so I got a picture with Robin Williams too. I only got a few pictures that year, but they were good pictures. Over the years, it just grew. I lived in Salt Lake for about 10 years and every year I would do Sundance. The pictures have grown from feeling more comfortable asking and regretting the times I didn’t.
LY: I love the story of how you two met. You met at a convention.
KC: I was sitting a table next to and across from people she wanted to get her pictures taken with and her friends wanted to get a picture with me. It was my first autograph show. She thought, “Well, if they’re going so nuts over this guy, what the hell, I’ll meet him too.” She came over to my table and asked, “How much for a picture?” I said, “Autographs are $20, but they come with a selfie.”
PC: I thought, “$20 for an autograph for a guy I don’t even know?”
KC: She said, “Fine, I’ll do it.” She didn’t know any of my movies.
PC: I didn’t know any of his movies. I saw Adventures in Babysitting, but I didn’t remember that it was him. I didn’t see Don’t Tell Mom. I picked the picture of him as cleaned-up Kenny to get signed because I thought it was a really cute picture of him. It was the cutest picture on his table. He wrote, “The dishes are done, man!” and I thought, “I don’t know what that means.”
KC: To be fair, that morning, I had seen Tweets from this girl with pink hair who was named Pinky and I’ll never forget that and it said, “I can’t wait to see Jeremy Miller, Jeremy Licht, Keith Coogan and Tracey Gold.” When I saw her in line, I recognized her from Twitter. When we went to take the picture, she came around to the other side of the table and we came face to face, I looked into her eyes and thought, “There you are. Where have you been my whole life?”
PC: We were both instantly thinking, “There you are. Fine.”
KC: You’ve seen this in movies with love at first sight and then it hits you and you think, “Now I know what it is.”
LY: Yeah, you posted the clip on Instagram and you can really see the moment when you connect. You really can.
KC: She said, “I’ll pay the $20 for an autograph if you do a 2-question interview with me.” When she came around the table, I asked if she would kiss me. We were face-to-face and we were obviously attracted to each other and I asked, “Are we going to start making out?”
PC: And I said, “I don’t know. Are you going to charge me?” My friend asked, “What is happening right now?” I said, “I think we’re in love. No, seriously. I think we’re in love right now.”
KC: I was at my mom’s place before my first autograph show and my mom said, “Not don’t go hooking up with some fan girl or anything.” I was just really happy that at least she wasn’t a fan of me.
LY: Aw! Until now.
KC: I would ask, “Have you seen Toy Soldiers?” She would say, “No.” I would list other movies off and the answer was always no. I figured she was lying. I’m so egotistical, that I thought that she has seen everything of mine and she’s lying. I even thought the “K” on her necklace stood for “Keith.” She said, “My name is Kristen. It’s not about you all the time.” At the end of the day, she ended up sitting at my table, helping me sell things to people. I called it “Booth Babe.” She called it “Booth Bitch.” Jeremy Licht is looking over and Tracey Gold was looking over with a face of “What is happening?” I thought, “I don’t know. I love this girl.” It was coming to the end of the day…
PC: And I said, “So are you putting my digits in your phone? Are we hanging out? What’s happening?”
KC: I wasn’t just going to give my number out to someone who I just met out of privacy and I said, “Well, let’s just see how it goes on Twitter.” I don’t know how she married me after that. We saw each other at a show two months later and she brought me this gift kit.
PC: I knew I was going to see him and I was thinking about him for two months. We were kind of flirting online, but I hadn’t seen him. I sent him a Valentine that he didn’t get. Then I started to put together this care package. I went crazy. I made him a scarf, a hat, a CD, I framed our picture. All the cheesy things that you would do for a boyfriend. My friends said, “You need to slow down. You’re going to scare this guy. You need to turn it off.” I said, “Nah. I’m just gonna go for it and if he doesn’t like it, then he doesn’t like me. This is me, this is who I am.” I didn’t change one single thing. I went so big.
KC: I don’t know how she did it, but she nailed it. I saw the scarf, the hat, everything and I loved it. I really did.
PC: I know. He was so stoked.
KC: And, I think we got engaged a week later.
PC: We moved in together and got married 6 months later.
KC: We moved in right away and started out sending “Save the Dates.”
LY: What a story! Did you get the dog, Sammy together?
KC: No, she already had Sammy.
PC: I brought Sammy to that show where we first met.
KC: I met Sammy the day I met (impersonating Borat) my wife.
LY: That’s so cute. Going back to Robin Williams, you were on an episode of Mork and Mindy.
KC: I was on the last episode ever shot.
LY: Any stories with Robin Williams?
KC: It was the last episode they shot and they knew they weren’t getting picked up so it was somber on the set. It was quiet. There weren’t any unnecessary people backstage. Jonathan Winters was on it as well, he’s a legend. I played a Junior High kid who interviewed Murray, Jonathan Winters’ character, Mork & Mindy’s kid because you were born old on Mork & Mindy and when you become older on that show, you actually get younger. My scenes were predominately with Jonathan Winters and it was a few silly lines. My mom suggested that I improv and throw out a couple of different lines that weren’t in the script. I said, “How dare you do that? You have to stick to the script.” She encouraged saying, “No, it’s Robin Williams and he does improv all the time. Go ahead and try it.” I tried it, saying something like, “Buffy and Buffy won’t like that at the club.” Robin Williams said, “What?” because I said something that wasn’t in the script. He turned back on me and started playing and I froze. I didn’t know where to go from there. I got scared because I had never done improv before and it was live in front of a studio audience. There were cameras everywhere. I was pissed at my mom for making me try something that I wasn’t really ready for. It was fun to be on that set, though. Pam Dawber is a sweetheart. They left it as a cliffhanger. They left it hanging and then never came back and did more shows. The whole series ended on a question mark. I was in the last episode of CHiPS, the second to last season of The Waltons. Pretty sure I killed that show. I was in the bad episodes of Laverne & Shirley where they already moved to L.A. I was on It’s a Living, Silver Spoons, Growing Pains, Just the Ten of Us. Ricky Schroder and I both auditioned for the role in The Champ with Jon Voight. They had screen tests for it. They built a little jail cell for the screen test. I was screaming and crying in character saying, “I want the champ! I want the champ!” and then Jon Voight reaches through the jail cell bars and smacks the kid. Jon Voight reached through the bars and smacked me and I cracked up and broke character. Immediately, the Director said, “Bring Ricky in!” and the rest is history. Then I got to work with Ricky later on Silver Spoons and it was a great experience because I got to work with my friends, Billy Jacoby and Alfonso Ribeiro. It was so cool to be on these sets because these were shows that I watched, whether it was Fantasy Island, Love Boat or Knightrider or later, Growing Pains and Silver Spoons, these were shows I was just watching last week and then I was on set. It’s very surreal.
LY: These are all incredible stories. Thank you so much! Do you know if there are any possibilities for a reunion or remake of either Adventures in Babysitting or Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead?
KC: I love these films. I love that they’re both babysitter related so that I can be the king of babysitter movies. I would love to do a commentary because I think it’s time to get the cast back together. That would be one soft way of doing it of watching the movie and recording us all talking about it. It would be great for the next version they release for Blu-ray. If they put a few thousand dollars into Behind the Scenes things, I think they would clean up when they sell it because a lot of fans would love to see commentaries on them. I will hold the door open for anyone who does reimaginings, reboots, and sequels. I would play the Tow Truck Driver or any character really because I loved being involved in the original projects and I think the fans would like to see it. For example, we didn’t really like the new Point Break, but it had James Le Gros from the original so it tied it together and you think, “OK, I’ll give it a pass.”
PC: At least they had him in there and tipped their hat to the original.
KC: The Disney Channel’s Adventures in Babysitting original movie received a lot of negative press because none of the original cast from the big screen movie was in it, it was rated G, basically why were they remaking it. We went to the premiere, it was the 100th original Disney movie they were premiering. There were stars there from all of the movies they had done. The guy who runs the Disney Channel told me that he loves Adventures in Babysitting, but he has an 8-year-old daughter and couldn’t show her the original because of language and content so he wanted to make a version that the whole family could enjoy. It could even be made into multiple movies or TV episodes because it’s “Adventures,” not just “Adventure,” you could have a boy babysitter, a single parent babysitter, etc.
Don’t Tell Mom was very specific to the early 90s, but another movie that really empowered women. It showed women being smart, not dumb and sexy. They won using their wits. One of my favorite games to play is what the movies would be like today if there were cell phones available. Would it change the plot? In Adventures in Babysitting, she forgot her whole purse so boom, we’d be back to the same movie. Maybe the kids would have cell phones, but they work on wi-fi only so they would have to find a Starbucks. You could contemporize it, but there was something about that era in the 80s when both parents had to work and the kids were left alone, latchkey kids from the time they got out of school until the parents got home from work. That’s why we have movies like The Goonies, Adventures in Babysitting because kids were on their own and had their own adventures. They started to exploit kids in danger like they exploit women being taken hostage. It was conscious to stop those types of exploitation because it was bad for film. They stopped that in the late 80s. In the early 90s, they didn’t want to endanger kids on film so we don’t have these stories that the kids can live through. There is more fantasy stuff right now, alternate dimensions, zombies, werewolves, but they don’t really have kids facing the real world today. They have overly precocious kids on TV shows where the kids are way smarter than the parents. Almost every show has a kid that has an attitude.
In Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, if they had cell phones, the mom definitely would have caught them a lot quicker. If it was Toy Soldiers, they would have confiscated all of the phones. I’m sure they would have hidden a few and they wouldn’t have had to hack into the phone where in the beginning of the movie they talk to the phone sex operator so it would have changed a little bit of the story, but not much.
LY: Do you have any plans to come back to the Midwest for any conventions?
KC: We need some Lou Malnatti’s, but there aren’t any concrete plans. That was the first time we truly had pizza. Before we were eating this cardboard crap out here in L.A.
A fun note, on Facebook there’s a secret group called the “Ex-Child Actor’s Secret Society.”
PC: Isn’t that ridiculous? You have to tell her the Jenny Piccolo story.
KC: Cathy Silvers who played Jenny Piccolo on Happy Days was hosting a potluck.
PC: They don’t wear nametags, so you walk around thinking, “Well, you look familiar, but I don’t know how.” It drives you crazy.
KC: You walk around saying, “That’s one of My Three Sons, that’s so and so, that guy sold Whoppers for Burger King.” It’s really weird.
PC: It was the second one we went to so we barely knew anyone there.
KC: Cathy Silvers is Phil Silvers’ daughter. I was looking at the walls and see all of these pictures of Phil Silvers with those big, black glasses. It took me a bit to put together that he was her dad. While at the party, the DJ pulls out the opening tracks and scores for every single series that was represented there. Every time a song played from a show you were on, you had to get up and dance. They play The Waltons, I had to go up and dance the waltz. Little House on a Prairie comes on, alright, I had to get up again. Love Boat comes on, here we go again. I’ve been on all of these shows, so I kept getting up. There was even one theme that came on and I had to sit it out. There were too many. They didn’t do Facts of Life, though. We were there with Geri Jewell from Facts of Life. After about 4 or 5 songs, Pinky said, “I can’t believe this is happening.”
PC: It was surreal to see all of these actors dance to their theme songs.
KC: It was hard to waltz to The Waltons waltz. It’s neat to be part of that community because we all had adult jobs as kids. We all share a sense of pride of being a part of these shows. I don’t see any of us or the shows as more important than the others, we’re one community. No matter how big or small the ratings were, if you were on a network TV show, it’s a special little club. Everyone’s really different. Some come from old Hollywood, others tried it out and they got lucky, other people studied in NY and had a theater background, some have educations, some have zero educations, they just kept working and never went to school, like me. I mean, I graduated high school early so that I could work on set as an adult. I didn’t have a parent or guardian on set of Adventures on Babysitting, I went off on my own at 16 years old. My mom ran lines with me when I was younger, but I was definitely proud to have done that on my own at that age.
LY: Anything else that you would like to say to the fans?
KC: If anyone has friends or family that need gifts, go to keithcooganonline.com and buy a voicemail. I can call and leave messages for your friends and family as Kenny if they’d like. We have new merchandise. Yes, this is shameless promotion. I know.
PC: You do have something else big coming up next year.
KC: Oh, yeah. We did get a chance to meet Kevin Smith. Pinky had met him and told him that we should meet sometime. She said my name and he knew who I was and quoted, “The dishes are done, man!” We went to one of his events and I brought him a signed dish with that quote. Since I knew we may meet him, I wrote myself a scene for a Jay & Silent Bob movie to give him. I wrote a 3-page scene and thought if he laughed once, I was in. He said, “Don’t worry. You’re in. You’re in. You’re in.” At the event, he said it was a weird week for him with all of the Harvey Weinstein stuff and that his first three movies were involved with Miramax. It has been weird seeing people, but told me he saw a “cinematic icon” when he pulled up and saw me in the parking lot. He said it made his week when we gave him the signed dish. Then at the event, he called me up to the stage and announced that in the next year, Jay & Silent Bob Rebooted will be coming out and that Keith Coogan will be making an appearance in it. Not only did he tell me I was in, but then he announced it on his podcast. I choked up because I never consider it an actual gig until the second paycheck clears. I thought, “I’ll believe it when I’m on set.”
LY: How awesome, that will be so much fun to see you in that movie. Thanks again for sharing all of these tales.
Get your own awesome Adventures in Babysitting picture with Keith, you can catch him at the New Jersey Horror Con, March 2-4. To keep up with Keith's upcoming appearances and Pinky's amazing celebrity pictures, follow their Twitter accounts here: