Chiklis: from darkness to light

By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / September 28, 2010

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BEVERLY HILLS— Most TV viewers haven’t seen Lowell native Michael Chiklis since his character Vic Mackey grabbed his gun and left for parts unknown in the brilliant series finale of his FX cop drama “The Shield.’’ Chiklis shakes off the darkness tonight when his new show, “No Ordinary Family’’ — about a nuclear family that becomes mysteriously imbued with superpowers — premieres tonight at 8 p.m. on Channel 5. As the man who played the Thing in the “Fantastic Four,’’ Chiklis is no stranger to super-strength, but instead of hanging with Sue Storm and clobbering things, his sensitive police sketch artist Jim Powell is trying to raise teenagers and rebuild his marriage to now super-speedy wife Stephanie (Julie Benz). We chatted with Chiklis recently when he attended the TV critics’ press tour.

On shrugging off Vic Mackey to become Jim Powell:

Perspective is everything. To you I’ve moved quickly from Vic Mackey to this show; it’s been nearly two years. I started reading scripts for television this past year and I was starting to get a little disheartened because there was a lot of sameness in what was out there. So when “No Ordinary Family’’ came to me I was thrilled. There’s nothing on the television that’s anything like it. This isn’t “Heroes.’’ This isn’t “The Incredibles.’’ What we’ve done with this is taken elements of a lot of wonderful different shows: family dramas, procedurals, and superhero genre films, really, and sort of made a hybrid.

On which role proved more challenging:

In a lot of ways I find “No Ordinary Family’’ much more challenging than “The Shield.’’ Even though we deal in shades of gray, there was such clarity for me as an actor with my character and his intent. No matter how he was perceived by the audience, I knew what he wanted. But with a show like this, the tone is very, very tricky. You don’t want to become too melodramatic and over-the-top shticky, you have to have some truth to it. In talking to the other actors about it, I’m like, “I don’t know about you guys, but every superhero movie or show that I see, people get powers and they’re like over it in a minute.’’ That freaks me out. As an actor I look at it and [think], “If this was real,’’ and I try to let that wash over me and bring that sense of wonder to the role.