Film and TV

Veronica Mars Movie Features Arizona Actor Duane Daniels

"A long time ago, we used to be friends."

So goes The Dandy Warhols' "We Used to Be Friends," the theme song to the canceled teen neo-noir drama Veronica Mars.

For fans of the TV show, Friday, March 14's release of the film continuation of the story is something of a reunion with old friends they haven't seen since 2007.

For Arizona actor Duane Daniels, the film is exactly that.

See also: Veronica Mars Gets Kickstarted Into Adulthood

Starring Kristen Bell (Party Down, Frozen), the show centered on a high schooler Veronica who worked unofficially as a private investigator solving crimes in her hometown of Neptune, California.

Daniels, an actor who splits his time between Arizona (where he owns a studio, The Actors Workhouse), Los Angeles, and France, portrayed Neptune High School vice principal-turned-principal Van Clemmons, who often butted heads with Bell's Veronica but also called upon her for help on occasion.

"It was real fun to get everyone to see everyone again," Daniels says of shooting the film. "I have to say it felt like we were doing the show. It really didn't feel that different -- not for me."

Veronica Mars ran on UPN and then CW from 2004 to 2007. It was canceled after its third season, which found Veronica and her friends moving on from high school to college. That also meant Daniels' character was largely out of the picture. About halfway through the show's final season, it was put on temporary hiatus (so that Pussycat Dolls Present could air) and then canceled following the final five episodes airing.

The finale left story lines unfinished, cliffhangers hanging, and fans wondering what should've, could've, and would've happened had the show run its course -- or, at least, had one more season.

"Outraged" doesn't quite describe the feeling of the show's fans upon its cancellation. But "colossally bummed" does.

That's why when the show's creator, Rob Thomas, and Bell launched a Kickstarter in 2013 to fund a reboot of the critically acclaimed show as a feature-length film, fans blew the project's $2 million goal out of the water.

They raised $5.7 million and set several Kickstarter records, including having the most backers in Kickstarter history and being the all-time highest-funded film project that the crowd-funding site had ever hosted.

"It was very exciting and still is," Daniels says of the outpouring of support. "The fans had been so supportive throughout and to see that they still cared about Veronica was gratifying and exciting."

The film finds Veronica working as a lawyer in New York and dating her college boyfriend and all-around nice guy, Stosh "Piz" Piznarski (Chris Lowell). She's called back to Neptune after her on-again, off-again ex-boyfriend who never skimped on drama, Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), is suspected of murdering is girlfriend.

She returns to Neptune to investigate, attend a high school reunion, and, perhaps, rekindle her romance with Echolls.

That's the perfect excuse to resurrect the show's classic characters, including Veronica's BFF Wallace Fennel (Percy Daggs III), Logan's longtime pal Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen), and Veronica's dad, Keith (Enrico Colantoni).

Of course, that brings Daniels' character back into the mix, too.

"It's great to get to check back in with them years later," he says, adding that the cast includes "some of the greatest people" he's ever known.

With Veronica putting her detective's cap back on to help out her ex, the film sounds supremely similar to the show's method of setting up and solving crimes. And for folks looking for a nice conclusion to the program, that sounds like a very promising setup.

Daniels didn't want to give anything away -- or even venture to guess if Veronica fans would get some closure from the film.

"I don't want to spoil too much, frankly," he says. "So I'm going to leave you hanging on that one."

He did, however, divulge his preference as far as Veronica's love interests go.

"I'm sorry. I'm team Logan," he says. "I'm a Logan guy myself. Team Logan all the way."

Veronica Mars opens in select theaters on Friday, March 14.

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski