Brian adrian Koch, “René”

Tell us about the character you play in Escaping Freedom (no spoilers!).

Rene is a theatre director who takes his work and himself very seriously, at times, to the detriment of his relationships with friends and co-workers. He's a bit blinded by his obsession for authenticity and emotional truth in storytelling and doesn't see how much he depends on others for his own identity.  

What attracted you to this role and/or film?

I liked the script and its kinship to Ingmar Bergman's religious films which I've been obsessed with for a long time.  I also really related to the character of Rene. I have occasionally directed theatre myself and have also wrestled with his issues.  

Without giving away plot points, what do you see as your character’s longings and desires in life? How do they go about reaching them?

Rene wants to create great art and to make a name for himself but is in the tricky business of collaborative theatre. He needs others to achieve his goals and that makes it tricky for him.  I think most of his methods are admirable, being focused and working hard but he also steamrolls people emotionally that don't serve his particular wants and needs. 

If you don’t mind sharing, what are some ways that you felt you were very different from or similar to your character?

I see many similarities, I've already talked about those, and I don't see any huge differences between us. We're both goal-oriented, work obsessed and socially flawed.  

What got you interested in acting?

I've always been drawn to music, TV & film.  But I was raised very conservatively and the arts weren't really much a part of our lives. While it's hard to point to any one moment, I do know that seeing my peers in high school playing in bands and acting in really cool, fun productions was hugely inspirational.  I started thinking "if they can do this, so can I".  

What did you look forward to most when filming began?

Being on set and just seeing what will happen.  

When approaching a role of this nature, what type of preparation do you do?

Lots of script work and putting my theater degree to use.  I love the deep dive into a text.  

What is the most important thing you would want an audience member to take away after watching Escaping Freedom?

Whoever and wherever you are, you are enough. 

What was the most challenging aspect of working on this film for you?

Working up the courage to do scenes with partial and complete nudity. Being nude on camera at all is scary and all the more so as I definitely don't have the body of a typical leading male (especially by today's exacting model driven and high-def standards). It's truly hard for me to think of anything scarier to do. It felt like I was much stronger for meeting it and surviving it.  

Being an actor, what do you see as your role in the filmmaking process?

To be truthful to the character I'm portraying. To listen and be present as much as possible.  

Who are some artists (any field) whose work inspires you?

Gillian Welch, Paul Klee, Salvador Dali, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Marshall McLuhan, David Foster Wallace, The Coen Brothers, David Lynch, Tom Hardy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlize Theron, Kerri Kenney

What’s one memory from this project that you will never forget?

Patrick repeatedly barging in on me naked. To his credit it was in the script. 

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Brian, you are a skilled artist whose work is always exciting and fresh. More important than that, however, is that you are also a wonderful human being. From the very beginning, your priority was always the comfort and safety of those around you. That is love and that is the heart and soul of this film. Thank you for making yourself vulnerable and not only going to the places the job required you to, but to do it with such amazing commitment and strength, my friend! - Edd

I’ve been a long time fan of Brian, both his musical and acting ventures, and was hopeful we would have a place for him in Escaping Freedom. He auditioned for both Marcus and Rene, and truly, both auditions were incredible. Brian is a focused, skilled, brave and generous actor. I am so excited for everyone to see what he brought to this challenging role. You truly are a rockstar, Brian… thank you! ~ Patrick