When it comes to playing both sides of the law, Michael Chiklis has plenty of experience. The actor’s made a career of portraying lawmen or criminals in film and television. So when he signed on as the villain opposite Jason Statham in Parker, it just made sense. The laid back, experienced Chiklis chatted with ScreenCrave about the movie and his upcoming projects.
When you read the script for Parker, were you aware that you’d be wearing a wet suit?
Michael Chiklis: [laughs] No, why do you ask?
It’s just like, Michael Chiklis, self-respecting man, putting on an old-fashioned wet suit.
Michael Chiklis: Well the clown suit’s a riot too. I don’t know what to say about that one. You know you’ve been working a long time when you have to think about it [being in a clown suit]. No, that was my first time being in a clown suit and a wet suit for that matter. It certainly wasn’t the most comfortable gig. The week that we spent in the SUV in the Bayou in 111 degree heat with 100 percent humidity sucked. In terms of comfort it was horrible. But we knew the sequence was going to be good, so that sort of drives you forward when you know what you’re working on is going to be fine and you go through all manner of discomfort to get the gig — to get the shot.
Was working with Taylor Hackford what attracted you to the film?
Michael Chiklis: Absolutely. Talk about checking off a box, he’s a bucket list director. A big franchise, I’m thinking this is a tried and true genre directed by a guy whose famous for character work. He’s taking a genre picture, lifting it. I know I had a real wonderful experience with Micah Hauptman, Wendell Pierce and with Clifton Collins Jr. The four of us got together with Taylor the very first night in New Orleans. We had a very wonderful dinner at a great restaurant, and that was the other danger by the way. We were in New Orleans. I put on 15 pounds on this shoot. Plus, Wendell Pierce is like the king of this place. He’s a local and everybody loves him. So he took us to every haunt, every jazz club and every amazing food purveyor. We just ate everything. He’s an amazing dude, he really is. We love Wendell Pierce and so that was as much of a part of this experience was anything else, our hangouts. We’d work for two to three days and then we’d be off for a week… in New Orleans. [laughs] It was fun man, we had fun. I sat in and played drums with Irvin Mayfield.
What was it like working with Jennifer Lopez, even though your scenes included threatening and beating her character?
Michael Chiklis: The thing about it is [it's] his [Micah Hauptman] first big movie and he’s got to abuse Jennifer. It’s terrifying because we were like, ‘Oh my God.’ I’m an established guy and I came up to her and said ‘I’m sorry,’ and she went ‘Why?’ ‘For what I’m about to do to you, because I’m just going to throw at you.’ She’s like, ‘No, that’s okay!’ and all Jenny about it. She was very, very cool and I was happy to see the way she handled Micah because she was like come on, so that gave him permission. He was a gentleman dealing with this situation. It’s amazing how, being an actor, it’s a lot about trust and a lot about us. It’s a big trust exercise, where we give each other permission to play. When someone sort of breaks that trust, on either side of it, it can be absolutely devastating to the process, to the outcome of the film, the play or whatever you’re doing. I can point to a million examples in my career when people have derailed the situation, because they broke that trust.
Can you talk about what you’re doing next?
Michael Chiklis: Yes. There’s a little movie I produced and as a result of this movie [Pawn]. I’ve been thinking an awful lot about the second half of my career. I’m facing 50 and it makes you sort of contemplative of the place that I’m at in my life. I’m thinking about the second half and one thing that’s very important to me is the building of my production company. I was talking to Brad Luff who is one of the executive producers on this film, during the making of Parker, we got to know each other and really bonded during the process. He has a lot of the same sort of desires and ambition in that way. He said well, why don’t we make a movie together? I was like okay, because I was looking for someone on the executive side to partner with me on my production company. He said no, I have a script and it’s financed. It’s a tiny movie but if you respond to it maybe we can put it together on the quick. This was late September, right after shooting this thing I read the script. It needed work but December 2nd we were shooting it. We made this cool little movie.
Who’s in it?
Michael Chiklis: I pulled together a pretty impressive cast with Forest Whittaker, Ray Liotta, Common, Nikki Reed, Stephen Lang, myself. It’s this low-scale movie and all things considered, it’s a cool little film. A lot of bang for the buck, considering it was a 15 day shoot. You have to compare apples to apples. Parker is a $30 million, two month shoot. Then this indie movie was a $2.1 million, 15 day shoot. Just to give you some perspective, we shot the pilot for Vegas in 16 days and that’s a 45 minute show. All things considered, an impressive cast, some really nice performances and yeah.
Parker is out in theaters now.