Michael Chiklis went through a very dramatic transformation when he went from playing friendly and easygoing characters like Anthony “Tony” J. Scali on The Commish to the brutal and corrupt Vic Mackey on The Shield. That tough guy image that Chiklis earned through sheer determination has stayed with him through the Fantastic Four movies and the TV series Vegas, and it serves him well in Taylor Hackford’s crime thriller Parker.
In the movie, Chiklis plays Melander, a professional thief with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. While you could kind of root for Vic Mackey, Melander is a flat out bastard who you really want to see get his comeuppance.
While speaking about the film to me in a one on one interview, Chiklis said he enjoyed playing such an amoral character and spoke about what attracted him to this particular role. He also touched on the research he did for the role and his familiarity with the source material.
Check it out below.
We Got This Covered: Parker has a very visceral impact in terms of how the violence is portrayed. What attracted you to doing this movie in particular?
Michael Chiklis: Well initially and I think most powerfully, Taylor Hackford. He reached out to me and wanted to talk with me about it, and I was thrilled because he’s one of those guys that was on my sort of bucket list of directors that I’ve wanted to work with over the years. So I was happy to go and meet with him on it, and once we discussed it and talked about doing a real analog version of the old Parker novels, I said “that sounds really cool.”
Taylor’s got a reputation of being an actor’s director and I thought, well you have this tried-and-true genre of the heist film with double crosses and vengeance, and that’s a very tried-and-true sort of genre. But with a guy like Taylor directing it, he could take it to another place and make it more character specific and more visceral. I’m glad to hear you use words like that. What we were doing must’ve been working.
We Got This Covered: Were you familiar with the Donald Westlake books that the character of Parker originates from?
Michael Chiklis: I was only familiar with them. I wasn’t a fan like I was say of the Fantastic Four Marvel stuff. I would be lying if I said otherwise. I was aware of it, I remember sort of perusing the books many years ago but they got away from me.
We Got This Covered: I did want to mention that I heard your hour of music programming on 100.3 FM/The Wave and enjoyed the songs that you played. That must’ve been a lot of fun to do.
Michael Chiklis: That was fun, it was cool.
We Got This Covered: Was there any music that you got to play during that hour of programming that you don’t usually hear on the radio these days?
Michael Chiklis: There was more I wanted to do but they wanted basically 10 songs and I recorded that whole thing in 20 minutes. It was all prerecorded; it wasn’t live, so I basically did the lead-ins and the lead outs for each song of the list that I gave them. But I had a list of maybe 40 songs and we paired it down from there.
There’s lots of songs you don’t hear on the radio that I would love to hear played on the radio that are just some of the better songs by bands, you know? So I try to choose a mix of some big hit popular stuff. It was all rock; it had to be rock from that era of the 70s and 80s. I wanted to play “Elephant Talk” by King Crimson, but they didn’t have it. So there were some disappointments in that I didn’t get to play all the stuff I wanted, but all in all I had a great time and I fun with it.
We Got This Covered: It was definitely fun to listen to.
Michael Chiklis: Oh cool, I’m glad. I loved playing The Tubes! That was fun. I thought “TV Was King” is perfect because I’m on a TV show right now (laughs). Todd Rundgren produced that album and I’m a big huge Todd fan.
We Got This Covered: You’re one of these actors who can go from doing a television series to making a movie with relative ease. Is there a medium you feel more comfortable doing or are they equally fun?
Michael Chiklis: They’re pretty equal to me. I like the speed and pace of television because you’re just never bored. On television you’re not waiting around a lot and that’s fun. But I like the specificity and time that you enjoy on a film where you can actually take the time and get something really, really right, you know? But they’re basically very much largely the same processes; it’s just time and money that separates them. I love them both very much. And then there’s theater which is my first love, and I can’t say enough about it.
We Got This Covered: Do you still get to do a lot of theater?
Michael Chiklis: I haven’t and that’s one of the reasons why I’m getting back into music. Life is short and I blinked and all of a sudden I’m pushing 50 and I’m like “you know what? If I’m that I do this I better do this now.” So were just can be putting out singles on a bimonthly basis probably from now on (laughs).
We Got This Covered: Can you tell us more about the Michael Chiklis band?
Michael Chiklis: One of the songs I played during that set was one of our newest singles. It was produced by Anthony Resta who is a multiplatinum producer. It’s legit. Check us out at michaelchiklisband.com.
We Got This Covered: Was there any kind of research that you did for this movie?
Michael Chiklis: Well I read the book but beyond that not really. It was pretty straight ahead, and I’ve done a lot of crime dramas and police dramas so I was pretty familiar with everything I was touching on. It was just more thinking about this character and his point of view, and he’s a pretty malevolent bastard frankly. What I was keenly aware of though was my role in this was of a malevolent bastard. Parker is the antihero in this movie. I was just very careful to not make him simpatico in any way. I just wanted him to be a prick (laughs).
We Got This Covered: Melander was definitely a prick and I’m glad you didn’t back away from playing him as such. Were you able to use a lot of what you learned on The Shield for this role?
Michael Chiklis: Yes and no. The Parker role is much more like the Vic Mackey role in that it’s opposite sides of the same coin. Vic Mackey, in spite of his misdeeds, you find yourself rooting for the guy because he’s an antihero. There’s a particular way of making that work. With Melander I can’t play in that area. I just had to clearly make this guy heinous otherwise it would muddy the water. Parker has to be the hero of this film.
That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank Michael for talking with us. Be sure to check out Parker, now in theatres.