Interview: Michael Chiklis of 'Parker'
If you're the bad guy up against the anti-hero, what does that make you?
With his gravel voice laden with both malice and keen intellect, Michael Chiklis has given riveting performances as driven characters -- and yet also worked sitcoms and superhero franchises, family and funny entertainment among his killers and cops. Chiklis' work on "The Shield" as ethical corrupt cop Vic Mackey is the kind of stuff that made for Emmy and Golden Globes nominations and wins during the new gilded age of post-network television. In "Parker," it's Chiklis' Melander who changes the deal post-heist on Jason Statham's Parker. Based on the one of a series of hard-boiled crime novels written by Donald Westlake under the name "Richard Stark," the Parker novels offer lean plotting and the pleasure of bad people up against worse people. We spoke with Chiklis in Los Angeles about having crime on your mind and the pleasure of fighting Jason Statham, no matter how the next day hurts.
MSN Movies: When you read the script, how great is it to realize that while there's a good bad guy, you get to play the worst bad guy in the film's assemblage of villains.
Michael Chiklis: It's always fun to play the bad guy, especially when you get to work with Taylor Hackford. That's what really drew me to the project is the chance to work with Taylor Hackford and to play just a purely malevolent bad guy.
Who also gets to do various heists and fun things like at one point you're dressed up like a clown as your disguise. Is pulling of a fake heist as much theoretical fun as pulling off a real one would be?
It was great. And we went up to Columbus, Ohio to the Ohio State Fair, which is massive. It's the biggest fair in the country. Like millions of people, it was crazy. And it was sweltering hot, and I was in a huge clown suit. And it was incredibly uncomfortable, but I thought "Wow, you know, I hope we don’t give anybody any ideas here because there's so many people at that fair that they're just taking down money like crazy, and it's all cash ..." So you know, guys get some good security this time around after this movie comes out. (Laughs)
I'm wondering, when you play a professional robber does it give you an eye for where the security cameras are for a little bit? Do you find yourself casing places when you walk in them for a while?
Yes. I have to admit there have been times where I think my years on "The Shield" playing Vic Mackey and playing a guy who's constantly compartmentalizing the different horrible things he could do…
.... makes you sort of look at the world in a particular way. I don’t commonly bring work into my own life, but it does make you sort of go and throw a look up to the ceiling and check for cameras and everything. It's weird. (Laughs).
Mr. Hackford directed this film, and what I love about this is ... you watch a lot of action movies and there's a bunch of pixels falling through more pixels and then there's some explosion pixels.
And this is good old fashioned analog mayhem. I mean, is that nice to do in this age?
Again, in talking to Taylor, he wanted to go in analog and make (a movie where), it's not all digitally done. He wanted to do it for real. And I knew I was going to be doing a throwdown with Jason. It was great to do a two-day fight day where for two days we just beat the crap out of each other. And you know, I'm all for digital fun and doing that. But sometimes there's just a lot to be said for old school. And he wanted to do this old school 'cause it's an old school book franchise, you know, from 50 years ago. So he wanted to go that way, and I thought, "Great, I'm down."
When you realized that your crew of criminals was including people like Wendell Pierce and Clifton Collins ... I mean that's got to be pretty great.
Absolutely. You know, a movie oftentimes is as good as the people that are in it, you know. So when you look right and left and you have supporting casts that are just tremendous actors all in their own right, it just makes your job and your life a lot easier. And we tried. We spoke about this a lot right off the get go when we had that first dinner out in New Orleans together. Taylor encouraged us to spend time together and have that bonding experience and chemistry together, and we did. We went out to dinners, we went to the jazz clubs in New Orleans, and we really genuinely enjoyed each other and had a great time with each other, and I think that that translates off the film.
You mention that you had two days of fight sequences with Mr. Statham. At the end of it, who was like walking funnier from being sore?
We were both fine, you know…
It wasn't … 'cause we did go at it for awhile, but I think I was the worse, frankly because of Jason ...
Right. And we'll leave it at that for people to see the film.
For more on "Parker," check out our video interview with the cast: