Michael Chiklis ('Fantastic Four')
'The True Force Behind The Shield!'
Educated at Boston University's School for the Arts, majoring in acting, before moving to N.Y. City. Michael has numerous theater credits including the roles of Stanley in 'A Streetcar Named Desire' and Touchstone in Shakespeare's 'As You Like It.'
After his show 'Daddio' went off the air, his wife suggested that Chiklis slim his weight down and change his self image with a different look and a totally different acting part, even if they have to create one themselves for him. He then shaved his head, lost more than 50 pounds, worked out vigorously and the two of them started to write a 'rogue cop' movie role for him. Chiklis eventually read 'The Shield's pilot script (originally called 'The Barn'), which was similar to his 'rogue cop' movie script, and aggressively pursued the part of Vic Mackey until he got it.
His new forthcoming movie is the comic book adaptation 'Fantastic Four' which follows four astronauts who are exposed to radiation in space, who return to Earth with superpowers, and try to stop a madman called Dr. Doom.
Sitting down with Michael Chiklis ('The Thing') at a recent press conference on the 'Fantastic Four' a Monday or two back now, we chatted about the highly-anticipated comic book adaptation.
What's it like working on sets like the Brooklyn Bridge set? "This goes under the category of, 'You know you're in a huge movie when ...' The first day I went to the Brooklyn Bridge set, to see a 75 yard section of the Brooklyn Bridge having been recreated with a half a mile track in a circle so that traffic can flow through it with three stories of blue screen. You know, you walk on the set that day and you go 'WOW! Hey mom! Mom! You gotta see this!' To see it unfold, and we're going to spend eight days on that and we're not done with that set yet. And then second-unit starts an equal amount of time on that set, and it's going to translate into maybe 2 or 3 minutes of the movie. It's an extraordinary thing to watch and for me, spending 11 to 12 hours in latex is fun," he laughs.
"It's a little something like being in the 7th circle of Hell," he laughs again. "But at the end of the day, honestly, sure it's hot, it's uncomfortable, it's cumbersome, but when you see it, it really is extraordinary."
How many hours does it take to get the costume ready every day, and what do you do during that time? "I'm doing whatever it is I can do to relax. And sorta let it happen, surrender that you have to, and keep it up, because if you try to control the situation you're going to panic. It's three hours to get into the suit, head to foot. So you just have to relax any way you can. Initially it was really kind of frightening for me. I knew it would be a physical challenge to do that. I did not know it would be a psychological challenge."
"I'm not a phobic person or have anxiety, but I had a full-on anxiety attack the first time they put me in and I think it's because when they put the hands on I can't get out on my own. But now, it's two months later and I'm through it. Now it's not about fear it's more about loathing. In terms of just the personal discomfort. I'm talking about that a lot, but I really want to make it clear that when you put your eyes on the prize, the big picture of it, you look at the dailies and you see what we're doing, that's the analogy that's good to you. You start thinking 'Wow, this is something I can talk to my kids and grandkids about."
Why now for this 'Fantastic Four' movie? "It's really a great time for this film to be made too because on a technical level 20 years ago and you make this picture and it's cheese whizzy. Because you can't achieve the individual effects. You know, Mr. Fantastic stretching and these kind of prosthetics, you know, you turning into the flame and you doing the forcefield. Now the technical can be married with the technical and the emotional and human, and in a way it never could be before. That's what we're trying to achieve, not just being technical show, we're trying to fuse those elements together as seamlessly as we can."
How did you end up getting cast?! "I met this gentleman, Arad, at a party and Jennifer Garner actually introduced us and I said, 'I have two words for you, Ben Grimm', and that was the beginning of it. He called me into his office months later and we discussed the possibility of this happening. And I was in excrutiating pain actually emotionally, because there was a big question whether I would be available for this film because I have a television series. It was all about can we make this happen purely from a scheduling standpoint, and of course the film get being pushed back and pushed back which made it more and more precarious. It really came down to Peter Churner, and you know Avi and all those folks at F/X and everybody involved, the heads up state, the meeting of minds and making it happen for me which I thank you and thank them all for."
Is it fun playing a superhero at the end of the day? "Hey, I'm a rock He-Man, that's crazy, who gets to do that. I was a fan growing up of the Fantastic Four. I loved this comic book. I've played cultural icons before and I know there's a certain responsibility that goes along with that, you can't get preoccupied as an actor with that, you have to just bring your own joy to the opportunity and to play this character to just jump in, you just have to go for it. There's always going to be someone in the audience who goes 'eh' that he didn't handle it. But hopefully the mass majority will go, 'Yeah, he was really committed to it and pulled it off'."
Explain more to me your character in this movie "The Thing, he's a tough guy, tough exterior, heart of gold. In a nutshell, that's it. He's been Reed's best buddy and protector. He's a strong guy and doesn't want to be a hero, just wants to do his thing and get on with his life. I think the thing that truly makes him heroic is choices, as you'll see in the film, he has to make a pretty selfless choice to be heroic, I think they all do."
Did you have to miss any 'The Shield' filming to make this movie? "They did an extraordinary thing at FX. They pushed the shoot three months for 'The Shield' so that I could film this. I had never seen that done. Makes you feel good and is humbling."
How much prosthetic was used for you over CGI? "That was a huge issue for me. I felt very strongly that I gave myself a 100% to this. I really wanted it to be a costume, because I felt that if it was just a CGI than you would loose the humanity part. The other question was, can we make it so it looks and feels like the original character? And that's the extraordinary thing that these guys have accomplished. Even when I'm in the 60 pounds of make-up, the prosthetic, you see it's my eyes, it's my face, and it moves along with my face. I think it's a pretty big accomplished, to marry the technical with the emotional, the human. And hopefully that will translate onto the screen."
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