Michael Chiklis has been around the block in his decades-long career, but when speaking to Movie Fanatic about his latest film, Parker, he admitted there was a first for him. "That was my first time on film in a clown suit or in a wet suit for that matter," he said and laughed.
Parker required that The Fantastic Four and The Shield star not only don a clown suit for a robbery, but also a head-to-toe wetsuit, and to say it was uncomfortable filming in those costumes in the Louisiana heat is a gross understatement.
"It was certainly not the most comfortable gig that week we spent in the van (in clown suits) in the Bayou in 111-degree heat. It sucked! It was horrible. But, we knew the sequence was going to be good. That drives you forward. You go through all manner of discomfort to get the shot."
Chiklis not only saw Parker as the chance to star in what could be a Jason Statham franchise (What's your favorite Jason Statham movie?), but it was a dream of his to work with director Taylor Hackford. "He’s one of those guys -- talk about checking off a box. He’s a bucket list director," Chiklis said. "It's a big potential franchise. This is a tried and true genre, directed by a guy who’s famous for character work. This could take the genre picture and lift it and elevate it."
An unexpected treat was the camaraderie he attained with his fellow cinematic crime crew, led by Wendell Pierce. That chemistry teased in the Parker trailer was evident from night one. "The four of us got together with Taylor that very first night in New Orleans. We had a wonderful dinner at a great restaurant," Chiklis said.
Shooting in New Orleans didn't hurt the appeal of Parker either for the veteran actor. "That was the other danger that we were in New Orleans," he said and laughed.
"I put on like 15 pounds! Plus, Wendell Pierce is like the mayor of New Orleans. He’s a local. Everybody loves him cause of Treme. He took us to every haunt and every jazz club and greasy food purveyor and we just ate. We love Wendell Pierce. That was as much a part of this experience as anything else was, our hangouts. We’d work for two-three days and be off for a week… in New Orleans!"
Chiklis was also impressed with how grounded co-star Jennifer Lopez was on the set. As he plays a not so nice guy, he was worried about whether Lopez would have any problems with how his character had to rough her up on occasion, as shown in the Parker international trailer. "She’s so Jenny from the Block," Chiklis said and smiled.
"She was very cool about all of it. It’s kind of scary! I was so happy to see her be so cool. I went up to her and said, 'I’m sorry.' And she said, 'Why?' 'For what I’m about to do to you and throw at you.' She was like, 'Oh, that’s OK! I'm game. Come on!' That’s a big deal."
The Emmy winner let us in on a little set secret that a successful movie can be completely thrown by an actor or actress unwilling to share. "It’s amazing how being an actor is all about trust. It’s a big trust exercise when we give each other permission to play. When someone breaks that trust it can be absolutely devastating to the process and the outcome of the film or whatever you’re doing," Chiklis said.
"I can point to a million examples in my career where people have derailed a situation because they broke that trust."
Chiklis is quite reflective as he approaches a milestone age and Parker also proved to be fertile ground for building his budding production company. He is producing and starring in Pawn, starring Ray Liotta, and his co-producer on the film was someone he met on the Parker set.
"It’s a little movie I produced as a result of this movie. I’ve been thinking an awful lot about the second half of my career. I’m facing 50 and it makes you contemplative. One thing that’s very important to me is the building of my production company," Chiklis said.
"I was talking to Brad Luft -- one of the executive producers on this film -- during the making of Parker, and we got to know each other and bonded. He has a lot of the same desires and ambitions in that way. He said, 'Why don’t we make a movie together?' I’m like, 'Ok.' I was looking for someone on the executive side to partner with me and my production company. He said 'I have a script and it’s financed..' So, now we have this cool little movie with Ray Liotta, Nikki Reed, Stephen Lang and myself."
When it comes to a potential The Shield movie, Chiklis implores Movie Fanatic to ask the studio. "Ask Fox, please," he said and laughed. "(Show creator) Shawn (Ryan) has a phenomenal idea to move forward with it, but part of it is our availability. We’re both very busy. Part of it is Fox and changes over there. We’ll see. It’s possible. But I don’t know."