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INT: Michael Chiklis

09.23.2008
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There are a handful of actors as of late that have made a strong impression in the world of television. One such actor is Michael Chiklis, who brought Vic Mackey to life as the volatile anti-hero that seems to commit as many crimes as the criminals he arrests on “The Shield”. He has always been an actor to watch, way back when he first starred as “The Commish”, hell, even back to his work on “Wise Guy“. And with “The Shield” finishing out on its seventh season, he is now free to take his magnetic personality into film. Thankfully, D.J. Caruso gave him a very different man to portray in his latest film EAGLE EYE.

When I sat down with Michael at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills I immediately felt comfortable. In fact, I almost felt too comfortable when it came to my interest in those final episodes of his critically acclaimed series. But he is a kind fellow who really seems to take a very personal interest in the work he takes on. A wonderful actor and just a friendly gentleman who is far from Mackay, or many of the other tough guys he plays. You can check him out this Friday when EAGLE EYE opens at a theatre near you. And if you didn’t know, “The Shield: Final Act” airs Tuesdays on FOX. Both are definitely worth a look.

Michael Chiklis

This is a great character for you.

Well thanks! Yeah, you know, the Secretary of Defense… you know, it’s funny because there are things he shares with Vic Mackey, you know, he’s got a tremendous amount of pressure on him. He’s heroic, you know, that aspect of him. But [he is] entirely different. He is much more definitively heroic.

There is no anti-hero there [as opposed to Vic Mackey]…

Yeah, but he’s still dealing with shades of gray in that there is that ambivalence about, what do you do? That opening sequence is the thing that really… when I read it, you know, I finished reading the opening sequence and I went, ‘Okay D.J. [Caruso], I’m in!’ Just that question of, here’s the scenario, you’ve got a target. Here you’re talking probabilities. What do we do? And the idea of being a person in that position that is making decisions that could really create a tremendous amount of fallout. You know, affecting peoples lives, live or die.

Literally.

Literally, yeah. You know, this is something that plays itself out on a day to day basis. And it’s such an unenviable position to be in. And you know, you want smart people in these positions. You want the most highly intelligent conscionable people in those positions. You don’t want anyone to take the position of Secretary of Defense lightly. But then again, these are human beings. You know, with thoughts, desires, dreams, aspirations, all of it like all of us do. You know, you cut them they bleed. They’re people. So they’re fallible is what I’m trying to say here. And sometimes, there is that element of human error versus the technology. And you know… do you use credit cards?

Yeah.

Do you use a cell phone? This microphone [referring to my recorder] has a listening capacity, doesn’t it?

Yep.

I mean the technological aspect… I was watching this movie and it actually made me so paranoid I turned off my phone. Literally you’re like a snail, you leave a trail wherever you go. Technology is such now that if people want to hone in on you, if the government wants to really focus its attention on you, they can know everywhere you’ve been, at all times. There is a record of every transaction you’ve done. Everything you’ve bought. Every place you’ve been. And that is kind of… on the one side, technology is our friend and can do so many things for us. But it’s also kind of insidious that it makes you feel naked, you know. You may not have anything to hide onesoever, but you still want your privacy. You don’t want some guy, some technician in a booth to be able to look into your life that way. At all times. And they can. And that makes you go like… oh, it’s an unsettling feeling and that is something that this thing evokes, in the context of a thrill ride, popcorn thriller.

And also working with D.J., I think he has a level of humanity that he always puts into his work, especially with your character.

That’s right. D.J.’s a great and thoughtful filmmaker. And we need more of them. I’m happy that he’s around.

And again, this really was a great change of pace for you. Both Mackey and your character here are heroic as you mentioned, but this character feels so noble in his actions.

Well because you can see in his whole being that he wants to make the right [decision]. And he wants to do it with the least amount of human suffering and loss. That’s the kind of person really that you want in that position. And it was nice to play someone who unequivocally, that’s who we’d want. And I’m very thankful to D.J. for giving me the opportunity to do it, you know. Even though I’m not in the movie a lot, but I feel like I have my impact.

Let’s talk a little bit about this final season of “The Shield”.

Yeah, the last season. I’m thrilled with it. I think that we did it proud. And we closed it in a way that I’m… and every one around… involved in it, is really satisfied. You know, we wanted it to end on a higher note than it began.

Seven years, right?

Seven years.

Wow.

So yeah, that’s quite an honor. And we had a blast man. It was good.

How did you deal with playing that character every week? It seemed like it might be tough just because of the intensity of it. Was it ever kind of tiring?

Exhausting. Absolutely. We used to say to the writers, I’d say to Sean, in terms of credibility I almost wonder if this guy would have a heart attack or an aneurism. We would laugh about that, talking about it. Because the pressure was always on and we used to talk about the fifth ball, but he had the capacity to juggle four balls, he could actually do that. But periodically we had to toss in a fifth ball.

The interesting thing about that character is that he is not all that likeable but there is something about him that you just kind of “get”. You sort of understand where he is coming from.

Classic anti-hero. You can relate to him on a whole lot of levels. He is a guy who believes he’s trying to serve the greater good. And some of his choices corrupt him. I almost think of it as, remember A FEW GOOD MEN? Remember Jack Nicholson and, “… you can’t handle the truth!” speech about the guy on the wall? He’s the guy on the wall. Mackey is literally that guy. And it makes, back and forth, that argument between the necessary evil… is it necessary… civil liberties versus safety and security, all those issues there. And we really tried to deconstruct that whole question. About what are we willing to accept in Post-9/11 America to keep us safe. So I feel like we played that out and we did it to the best of our ability and if you’re a fan, particularly the last four episodes of the show are going to blow your mind.

Let me know what you think. Send questions and/or comments to JimmyO@JoBlo.com.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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4:21PM on 09/23/2008

NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

i dunt wanna the shield to end!
makes me scared what will happen to mackey : (
i dunt wanna the shield to end!
makes me scared what will happen to mackey : (
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3:57PM on 09/23/2008

100% agree...

The Shield is far and away one of the grittiest shows ever to be broadcast on television. Excellent characters and stories. Tonight the final season begins, i am saddened but also excited to find out who lives, if any, and who dies...eagle eye looks awesome, even though i dont like the shia-dude.
The Shield is far and away one of the grittiest shows ever to be broadcast on television. Excellent characters and stories. Tonight the final season begins, i am saddened but also excited to find out who lives, if any, and who dies...eagle eye looks awesome, even though i dont like the shia-dude.
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12:43PM on 09/23/2008

Chiklis Rocks...

I'm actually looking forward to Eagle Eye more for him and Ethan Embry than for any of the other actors in it... The fact that it's a pretty slick looking flick doesn't hurt, of course...

I've been nuts about The Shield for a while now, and I can't believe it's almost all over. I'm pretty anxious to see how the rest of this season plays out...
I'm actually looking forward to Eagle Eye more for him and Ethan Embry than for any of the other actors in it... The fact that it's a pretty slick looking flick doesn't hurt, of course...

I've been nuts about The Shield for a while now, and I can't believe it's almost all over. I'm pretty anxious to see how the rest of this season plays out...
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