Michael Chiklis Interview: Actor Stars in the ABC Sci-Fi Hit 'No Ordinary Family'
Universally known for his portrayal of Detective Vic Mackey on FX’s groundbreaking drama The Shield, Michael Chiklis has earned numerous awards for his history-making performance on the series, beginning with the Television Critics Association Award for Individual Achievement in Drama in 2002. This award was closely followed by both the Emmy and Golden Globe in 2003.
The Lowell, Massachusetts native is the first actor in the history of advertiser-supported cable television to capture both awards. His performance also earned him both a 2004 and 2005 Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Drama Series, and over the course of The Shield Chiklis also produced and directed several episodes.
“I’ll be jumping off a building and plummeting 110 feet or more, stopping a train, throwing a van over, doing all these different things. Sometimes I have to defer to the experts and other times I’ll jump in there. If I feel like I can do it with a limited downside risk, I’ll jump in there and do it.”
In 1991 Chiklis captured the title role on ABC’s The Commish. He then went on to Broadway and starred in the one-man show, Defending the Caveman. Other television credits include Daddio, a starring role as Curly in the ABC movie The Three Stooges, and guest appearances in several popular series, including Miami Vice, L.A. Law, Murphy Brown, and Seinfeld.
Chiklis will appear later this year in the independent comedy High School, was recently seen in Eagle Eye opposite Shia LaBeouf, and starred in the live-action film Fantastic Four, as well as its sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, portraying Ben Grimm, aka “The Thing.” Additional film credits are Rise, Tax Man, Do Not Disturb, Last Request, Body and Soul, and the controversial film Wired, in which he played the part of John Belushi.
The forty seven year old actor currently can be seen in the ABC television series No Ordinary Family that premiered on September 28, 2010. The one-hour sci-fi drama also stars Julie Benz, Romany Malco, Autumn Reeser, Kay Panabaker, Jimmy Bennett, and Stephen Collins. The show airs on Tuesdays at 8:00 Eastern, and ABC just recently picked up the new show for a full season.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Michael, congratulations on the success of No Ordinary Family!
Michael Chiklis: Well, thank you very much.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Why did you choose this show two years after The Shield ended?
Michael Chiklis: I wanted to do something entirely different and something that I could sit down with my whole family and watch, something I could enjoy going to work and have some fun. It just satisfies a different part of my soul as an actor and performer and it has great mass appeal.
It’s really challenging in that way to make a show that appeals to everyone. That is a daunting task. That means it has to be smart, fresh, fun, well paced, exciting, and so many different things to hold the attention of a broad mass audience. We’ve really working very very hard to make the show that way.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Would you describe it as a dramedy with some action thrown into the mix?
Michael Chiklis: I’d describe it as pure entertainment or fantasy entertainment. You could call it a dramedy. Julie Benz made up a term. She calls it a dramactionomedy because it really has a little bit of everything. It’s drama, action, suspense, comedy, and everything in between.
Basically I feel like we’re shooting a 45-minute Marvel feature film every 9 working days. The template for me when I read the pilot was the first Spider-Man movie. If you look at the first Spider-Man movie, there are a lot of comedic funny moments in it. You have the familial stuff between he and his aunt and uncle, there’s the romance between he and Kirsten Dunst’s character, and then you have the dark side dealing with his best friend the Green Goblin. It was sort of totally like that movie to me. I really loved that particular movie and thought, from a tonal standpoint, this show is very much like that.
As an actor it’s wonderful because I’m going to get to hit a lot of notes. I’m going to get to play some nice romantic scenes, some comedic scenes, some dramatic scenes, and some action scenes. It makes for fun when you go to work in the morning when you get to jump off a building in the morning, kiss Julie Benz in the afternoon, and laugh with Romany Malco at night.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Speaking of jumping off of a building. How do you handle the physicality of the stunts?
Michael Chiklis: Very carefully (laughs). It’s different than The Shield because there I would kick down a door, jump on the bad guy and beat him up. That was some rough and tumble guy stuff, but because we’re doing superhero stuff now they’re bigger stunts, more spectacular, and more dangerous.
I have to be discerning and actually kind of responsible and a bit of a grown up. I have to look at something and go, “You know what, I probably should pass on that particular stunt. I’ve got to leave this one to the experts.” We have a tremendous stunt department on this show. Every week we’re doing these massive stunts.
I’ll be jumping off a building and plummeting 110 feet or more, stopping a train, throwing a van over, doing all these different things. Sometimes I have to defer to the experts and other times I’ll jump in there. If I feel like I can do it with a limited downside risk, I’ll jump in there and do it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I love the banter between Jim and George (Romany Malco). There is so much chemistry between them.
Michael Chiklis: Thank you. We’re having a blast with it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Was the idea to have a Batman/Robin relationship between the two of them?
Michael Chiklis: Yeah, that was the hope and you can’t buy chemistry. You can’t force that sort of thing. That’s what I look for in terms of casting is that sort of innate chemistry between actors and it’s definitely there between all of us.
Julie is just wonderful, very talented and easy going as can be, and so fun to be around. It’s the same thing with Romany, Kay Panabaker, Autumn Reeser, and Jimmy Bennett. Everybody in the cast is just fun and excitable. They’re always looking for a laugh and that’s a great atmosphere.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What do your own daughters (Autumn and Odessa) think about No Ordinary Family?
Michael Chiklis: They love it. They particularly love next week’s episode (November 9) coming up with Jackson Rathbone from The Twilight Series. It made me very popular in the Chiklis house. Having a handsome young man from The Twilight Series didn’t hurt as far as they were concerned.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Autumn did some acting on The Shield. Is there any chance she will make a guest appearance on No Ordinary Family?
Michael Chiklis: I don’t know. She’s very wrapped up in school and she’s going to go study films and theater. She’s very much the apple. She’s going to do her own thing and I think that right now she really wants to cut her own groove and do her own thing.
Autumn’s very headstrong and proud so I’m leaving her to do what she wants to do. I’d personally love for her to come on so maybe she’ll see fit to grant us that pleasure at some point. But she’s very independent and wants to make her own mark so she’s working on that. She’s going to college (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How do you wind down, Michael, after playing a superhero all day?
Michael Chiklis: I spend time with my wife. We’ll sit, take walks and have conversations, walk the dogs and stuff. We talk about everything, anything. I spend time with my family.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I have the million-dollar question to wrap this up. Will Vic Mackey (The Shield) show up on the big screen anytime soon?
Michael Chiklis: Not anytime soon but potentially down the line. This is something that many many people are asking me. I know that Shawn (Ryan) and I are very interested in the notion of that, but it has to do with a lot of different factors. Shawn has two shows on the air right now and I’m in No Ordinary Family so we’re both very busy.
Secondly, it really has to do with FOX Studios and whether or not they feel that there’s the desire for that out there. Considering how much I get asked the question, I would say that there’s the appetite for it, but one never knows. I think it’s probably a 50-50 shot at this point and we’ll see. If it happened I would love to jump into Vic Mackey’s skin again someday, but if it doesn’t there’s lots of other work to be done.
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