PERFECT STORM. Though he used to doubt his own acting ability, Alexander Koch is now taking our TV screens by storm. DA MAN investigates
As the immensely popular second season draws to a close, now is as good a time as any to start watching thrilling TV show “Under the Dome.” Another reason to do so, is that it features fresh-faced young talent Alexander Koch. Portraying the character of Junior Rennie whose woes are only made worse by the chaos going on around him, Koch has proved himself a natural in the fast-paced world of TV. Based on the book by Stephen King, “Under the Dome” looks at the lives of those living in a small American town that is trapped under an invisible dome that has fallen from the sky, effectively sealing them off from the world outside. Koch’s breakout performance on a TV series, the ambitious actor is enjoying every minute whilst also keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the road ahead. Though he previously suffered from a lack of confidence in his ability to become an actor, such worries have long since been forgotten.
DA MAN: Alexander, thanks for taking the time to chat with DA MAN. How are you?
Alexander Koch: I’m great, thank you so much for asking!
DA: Congratulations on another season of science fiction TV show “Under the Dome.” Can you briefly explain the premise?
AK: “Under the Dome” is a show about a small town that is trapped under an invisible force field, leaving the people inside to fight for their survival. Things don’t go well for these people and the show explores the fascinating human emotional responses to these events.
DA: “Under the Dome” is of course based on the popular novel by Stephen King. Were you a fan of his before you joined the show?
AK: Of course. I think he’s one of the few writers of our generation that people will be able to look back on in the same way as they do, say, Mark Twain. Most people have a favorite Stephen King short story or book, which always makes for a good conversation starter.
DA: Your character, a high school student named Junior Rennie, makes for a pretty intense physiological study. How did you prepare to take on this role?
AK: I just read the book and kind of started from there. I felt like the trauma associated with Junior’s relationship with his mother was a very important thing to focus on from the beginning. It was where Junior’s life got off track so I paid a lot of attention to that, and of course the complicated relationships with his high school sweetheart Angie and his power hungry father Big Jim.
DA: Does your TV character stay close to the literary one?
AK: No, not particularly and that’s a good thing. I don’t think the audience would really be rooting for a guy that is kissing (among other things) his dead girlfriend in a pantry!
DA: Do you feel a weight of expectation when playing a character from a book as people may have preconceived notions?
AK: I think people did have preconceived notions but as we’ve now gone so far away from the book, we now think of the TV show as more of an interpretation of the original story.
DA: There are some great shows on our TV screens right now. What sets “Under the Dome” apart in your opinion?
AK: I think the show is excellent at exploring that paranoid fear we all have about what humans can do to each other. The dome poses a lot of problems for the characters in the first instance, but after that selfishness, greed and stupidity are the things responsible for making everything then go from bad to worse.
“I always felt like I wasn’t good enough, so it took me a while to finally commit to saying ‘I want to be an actor’”
“Social media is a tricky thing. Some people don’t realize how much influence the things they say really have on people”
DA: How does it feel to be working with executive producer Jack Bender and what is he like on set?
AK: I love and admire everything about Jack. Honestly, over the past two years he’s become like a father to me (and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like that). He’s a director who knows what he wants and always fights for it, yet at the same time he manages to be so easy going.
DA: It seems like your TV show career is just getting started but you have a firm foundation in theater. Is there a medium of acting you prefer?
AK: I miss theater a lot sometimes just because you get so much prep time and get to try new things when rehearsing over a period of weeks. But with TV you have to trust your instincts more and more as you generally have to shoot as fast as you can. In this respect, I find shooting TV shows much more intimate and intense.
DA: Before “Under the Dome” you acted in a short, independent film called “Ghosts.” What is the most enjoyable thing about working on such a project?
AK: That was really fun because it was just me and a bunch of my friends getting involved in weird, guerrilla style film-making. My friend Eddie O’keefe was the director and he just wrote and shot his first feature called “Shangri-La Suite.” I would love to shoot something like that again someday, whether I’m acting in it or directing.
DA: How did you originally come across acting and when did you realize it might become your full-time profession?
AK: I always wanted to perform when I was a kid, simply because I was a bit hyperactive! I always felt like I wasn’t good enough, so it took me a while to finally commit to saying “I want to be an actor.”
DA: Do you have any criteria when choosing roles or do you just go with what feels right at the time?
AK: I’m always looking for roles that mean something and aren’t just there as entertainment material that actually gives people something to think about. I think there is too much junk out there as it is and I don’t want to contribute to something I don’t believe in. I like roles that mess with my head, roles that I can’t stop thinking about it at night.
DA: What do you make of the culture of celebrity and the impact of social media? Our most recent cover star Matt Dillon said he thought that it often gets celebrities into trouble when they weigh in on controversial subjects.
AK: I’m really the wrong guy to ask this so “no comment” … [laughs] I’m kidding, but I agree that social media is a tricky thing. Some people don’t realize how much influence the things they say really have on people. I could often go off on a long rant but that is exactly the reason why I don’t have a twitter. It keeps me out of trouble!
DA: What are your passions outside the world of acting?
AK: I like doing stuff outdoors. I like hiking and camping and that sort of thing. I love music and going to concerts. I recently got to go to FYF festival in Los Angeles to see The Strokes which made me feel really old.
DA: Do you have a role model in life?
AK: My dad.
DA: Do you live by any particular mottos or credos?
AK: They change every week, but right now it’s one from Jack Nicholson, “The minute that you’re not learning, you’re dead.” Also, James Salter has another great one, “Beliefs are meant to cleave us to the bone.”
DA: How do you define style?
DA: What’s the best thing about being an actor?
AK: The fact that you get to be people you may never be in real life. You get to do the things that scare you and you have to fight hard for things you may not even be able to get in the real world. It’s a mental challenge, but one I thoroughly enjoy.
DA: Finally, what is happiness to you?
AK: Getting lost in something.
Photographer: Mitchell Nguyen Mccormack
Stylist: Alexa Rangroummith Green
Grooming: Leah Rial at Exclusive Artists using Kevyn Aucoin and Oribe Haircare
Location: Andaz West Hollywood (westhollywood.andaz.hyatt.com)
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