David Chokachi gained fame when he took the role of Cody Madison on the hit show Baywatch in 1995, having stayed on the show until 1999. From there, he scored the role of Detective Jake McCartey on the superhero series Witchblade from 2000-2002. On February 21, Chokachi reunites with his co-stars from Witchblade, Yancy Butler and Eric Etebari, the latter who directs the faith-based heist thriller Emerald Run. For those who missed it, check out WFG’s interview with Yancy Butler about both the film and the 20th anniversary of Witchblade.
WorldFilmGeek had the chance to talk to Chokachi about both the film and the Witchblade series.
David, I am so excited to be talking with you about Emerald Run. I was floored with the film. It was a great meshing of faith based film and heist thriller and you were definitely the driving force of the film.
That’s so good to hear. Thank you so much! We took four years to make this film and to hear an objective review and to hear you enjoyed it, it is so great to hear.
What attracted you to take the lead in Emerald Run?
My manager gave me the script and I saw that the character was a dad whose daughter is sick. What really took me to the character is that John is both a carpenter and a surfer, and that really hit home with me. Because I do both. When I’m not acting, I do carpentry and I also surf. So that was one thing I really enjoyed about the character.
What I also enjoyed about the character is that I like playing characters that are flawed by circumstances. I like to bring that struggle to make things right. And who would have thought that John [David’s character] would find faith while in the desert. He’s a doubter but when he’s in the desert, he finds himself and faith. It’s not like he’s signing up for church the next day, but he realizes that there is a higher power, something bigger while he’s struggling.
And also fights for survival. What I also noticed is that he takes blame for something that happened involving his one-time best friend. It is as if he somewhat blames himself for what happened.
Exactly and he tries to find forgiveness for himself. I also enjoy doing roles that are super physical. I would spend two weeks out in the desert, and we would be there at sunrise and leave at sunset. I would be dirty and bloody and man, that was a lot of fun (Laughs).
I spoke with Yancy Butler a few days ago and she was so excited to work with you and Eric Etebari, reuniting the three of you from your Witchblade days. What was it like to work with them again?
Eric is one of my best friends. He actually lives half a mile from me, so I see him all the time. Yancy and I have done a few projects over the years since Witchblade and when Anthony Caruso resurrected the film, I convinced him to bring Eric on as a director. Eric and Yancy I’m super close to so it was really exciting to work with them on this film.
I have to say I’ve become a fan of Eric’s both in front and behind the cameras. I really enjoyed his film Bare Knuckles and his performance in The Great Fight, a film that I felt close to because it involves autism and he did a great job in the villain role of the lawyer/MMA coach.
Yeah! I have to say Eric’s great strength is more behind the cameras. I watched him put things together and I think as a director he will definitely go far!
You got to work alongside veterans such as Chris Mulkey, John Schneider, Michael Pare, Steven Williams, and Vernon Wells. What was it working alongside these guys?
These guys were great. I worked with Steven Williams on a film in Bulgaria fifteen years ago and he was a blast to work with. He’s hilarious and I mean, even when he doesn’t need to be, he’s really funny. John Schneider, I mean this guy should be working all the time. He’s charismatic and one of the best actors out there. Michael was wonderful and Vernon, let me tell you. We spent two days doing our scene in the trailer in the middle of the desert and we bonded during that time.
When you’re working with seasoned actors who have done this longer than you have, it really helps you learn and grow. It helps you drive your performance and makes you want to get even better.
And I have to agree with that. You guys all great chemistry there. Well, this year marks the 20th anniversary of Witchblade and I can imagine as Yancy is, you must feel pretty excited about that.
Yes! It is crazy but cool! They keep threatening to reboot Witchblade. I keep hearing rumors but maybe the fact this is the 20th anniversary may start something. (Laughs) It was a show ahead of its time. I think if we started maybe a few years later, it would have lasted at least ten years.
Aside from Yancy and Eric, do you keep in touch with anyone from the show?
Peter Mensah, who appeared on three episodes of the series, he actually married my wife and I, so we’re good friends. Will Yun Lee, he’s a great actor and a good friend. Our kids are actually good friends so we’re pretty close as well. He’s done a lot for himself. Appearing in The Good Doctor and Altered Carbon. I’m glad to see he’s doing well.
What can we see next for you?
I just shot a pilot for a new show that’s hard to explain. It is called Last Chance in the Doghouse. I think the best way to describe it is Cheers meets Touched by an Angel. It’s kind of complicated to explain. Eric and I are also working on a few projects together, including a possible television series and two films that I’m producing. I realize these days, if you want something done, you’re going to have to do it yourself and not rely too much on others.
Finally, do you have a message for the fans?
Keep tuning in and check out Emerald Run. It’s a great film and any support will help! Let’s blow it up! (Laughs)
Emerald Run will be released on February 21 and this is a great meshing of faith-based film and heist thriller, all with you as a driving force. David, thank you so much for talking about the film.
Thank you so much for having me!
A Special Thank You goes to October Coast PR and David Chokachi for making this interview possible.