TCA 2020: “I didn’t see the depth in this or the narrative that [Joel Church-Cooper] did,” star and executive producer Hank Azaria says
When “Brockmire” star and executive producer Hank Azaria thinks about the process of bringing the IFC comedy from its origins as a 2010 Funny or Die short to its fourth and final season as an IFC comedy series a decade later, he calls it a “crazy journey.”
When the final season premieres March 18, it will bring the fully-realized arc to a satisfying close a decade after the character of Jim Brockmire first found an audience on YouTube.
“It was kind of a crazy journey. It was one of those things where, I walked into my agent’s office one day, and I was like, ‘You know, I have all these characters, I’d like to do something with them,” Azaria said of the show’s origin this week at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena.
It turns out, before “Brockmire” landed at IFC, it was very nearly a movie.
“I’m not on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ but you know, Funny or Die — bring your characters, they’ll make little shorts out of them. And who knows, maybe you’ll make a TV show out of them one day,” he said. “And then the short got a good response we actually had a movie script. It was gonna be a movie at first. It actually had financing. It actually went 5 weeks into pre production in Baton Rouge. And then we lost our financing.”
Then, Azaria said, they changed directions: “This actually might lend itself even better to a streaming series. And then [we] did that a couple years later, and IFC bought it and that’s how we ended up. It actually was better for television. You can get into detail, and again, [creator] Joel Church-Cooper had a real idea of a narrative, of what story he wanted to tell, which would have felt rushed in 90 minutes in a movie,” he said. “Where we had the time to get into it all, including the romance between myself and the lovely Amanda Peete.”
“Brockmire” is based on the viral video from Funny or Die that featured Azaria as sportscaster Jim Brockmire, who suffers a hilarious public breakdown following his wife’s infidelity. The IFC series picked up Brockmire’s story a decade later as he tries to recapture his former glory.
Looking back on his Brockmire’s arc over the four seasons, Azaria said he couldn’t have predicted his character’s outcome.
“I didn’t see the depth in this or the narrative that [Church-Cooper] did,” he said. “I saw what was funny about this, essentially as a sketch in a pretty sophomoric way. Even the first day shooting in Season 1, our director Tim Kirkby walked up to me… and he says, ‘You know, there’s some real pain here, this is really kind of gut wrenching if you think about it. This is hard stuff.’ And I was like, ‘Jeez, he’s right, This is really sad, what these characters are going through.
“Joel church cooper had a vision of what this narrative would be. He felt it would take whatever it is — 32 episodes — to do that, and thats what we did, and it did feel really satisfying to end it the way we did,” Azaria said.