In the upcoming Ghost House horror-thriller Rise from filmmaker Sebastian Gutierrez (read our exclusive interview with him HERE), Michael Chiklis plays a frayed LA cop on the hunt for whoever is responsible for destroying his family.  Unfortunately for Lucy Liu, he thinks it’s her… even though she’s also a victim of the same cult that killed his daughter.  Given the evidence at hand, however, she’s going to have to try pretty hard to convince him otherwise.  

Chiklis got his first taste of infamous fanboy vitriol when he signed on to play The Thing in Fantastic Four and did some searching online over the course of the film’s production to gauge the anticipation level (or lack thereof), so he’d heard of our little home here in the sewer, for better or worse.  But like myself, he was also born, raised and educated right here in Boston, which means he has the kind of no-bullshit policy I’m accustomed to and prefer (he also ribbed me whenever I allowed my accent to slip through – “Maaaaarch”). 

Q:  So how did you get involved with Rise?

Chiklis:  Basically it was an offer situation.  They sent the script to me with an offer for the role, and I read it and liked the script.  I saw tremendous potential in it.  You know, you go through the process of – everything starts with a script, but then you’ve gotta look at who’s making it, who’s involved.  Those are the elements you want to see come into place.  Between meeting Sebastian and really liking him, and wanting to work with Lucy, and the final elements being [cinematographer] John Toll and Sam Raimi’s company, those were all really solid arguments to make the movie.

Q: Have you had to make a conscious effort to avoid playing the character as a Vic Mackey type?

Chiklis: Well, I think that’s part of the reason why I took it too, because you know, I was talking about it with my wife Michelle and I said, if I preclude cop roles from my repertoire purely on the basis of Vic Mackey – 60% of all things made have to do with cops.  I’d be taking a tremendous amount of potential away.  Like this guy, sure he’s an LA detective, but he’s a decidedly different character from Mackey, he’s an extremely damaged man.

Q:  In a different way, you mean.

Chiklis: Well, Mackey is damaged guy too, but you at least get the sense that he’s a gregarious guy who loves his life.  He has his demons and everything but there’s a big difference in the nature of these two guys and the general circumstances.  This guy I’m playing here, Rawlins, has lost his daughter in the most brutal manner.  His arc is much more that of a guy who’s bent on getting the people responsible, whereas Mackey is a much broader spectrum over the course of a series, there’s a lot more to be dealt with.  Mackey is much more of an ambiguous character.  This is essentially a good guy, he’s just got his personal demons, he’s an alcoholic and rightfully so.  I mean, if anything God forbid every happened to one of my daughters I don’t know what I’d do – it brings you to some pretty dark places. 

 Q:  He’s sort of a vigilante, isn’t he? 

Chiklis:  In a way.  That’s about the biggest similarity between the characters.  Mackey is more of a wily coyote, deliberately manipulating the system to accommodate his own goals.  This guy is just disregarding the rules.  Plus, this is a horror-thriller as opposed to a straight cop show.

Q: Speaking of Vic Mackey, have you shot the next season of The Shield yet?

Chiklis: No, season five starts in mid-September.  It’ll go on the air in January this time. 

Q: You’re a respected, award-winning actor who’s still interested in genre type material — do you seek out that sort of thing or is that what’s being thrown at you?

Chiklis:  I seek the best material with the best people that I can find.  The great thing about being an actor is you never know what tomorrow will bring.  In this particular case it was brought to me, while other times you suss things out and chase them.  But however it comes to you, you have to look at the material and people involved.  At this point in my life I’m interested in making the best films I can get.  That’s not to say I wasn’t nervous about doing a genre movie, particularly the horror-thriller, because these things tend to be really good or really bad.

Q: There’s the whole issue now of skirting the PG-13 as well.

Chiklis:  I think that’s ridiculous.  I have two daughters, I know what they’re watching.  That’s what’s wrong, not making the movies that are made for grown-ups to watch – the fact of the matter is that there are movies made for an adult to watch.  According to that model, think about the greatest films we grew up with.  Taxi Driver, The Godfather, Silence of the Lambs, whatever. 

Q:  Nobody really pushes the R anymore, though.

Chiklis:  Yeah, that’s a product of commerce and testing.

Q:  Do you have anything set between Rise and The Shield?

Chiklis:  A vacation!  I’ve worked for 17 months straight, no break.  I shoot this until beginning of August and I start The Shield in mid-September, and then I go right into, from what I understand, the second installment of Fantastic Four.  And I think right after that, into another project that I’m talking about that I can’t discuss just yet.

Q:  Another Fantastic Four already, huh?

Chiklis:  It’s not confirmed yet, but the conversation is that as early as next spring, maybe early summer to shoot.

Q:  Have you asked to be converted back to Ben Grimm?

Chiklis: [Laughs] Yeah, for a portion of it, sure.  Hey, it was in the comic book!  And since we’re condensing 40 years of comics, it’s in there somewhere…

Q:  You’re a comic fan, too.  Do you think that has anything to do with some of the projects you’re willing to do?

 Chiklis:  Being a comic book fan?  You mean having an imagination?  Maybe.  I think most actors have a great imagination, that’s why they want to be actors, because it’s pretending.  It’s about keeping the child inside yourself alive, and that’s a wonderful way to earn a living.  I do get a kick out of some of the people who watch these movies like Fantastic Four and act like it’s Wuthering Heights, over-intellectualizing it.  You’re questioning the superpower of a friggin’ comic book character?  When exactly was it when the child inside you died, you know?  When you become a parent you get back in touch with that.  I have an 11 and a 6 year old asking me to play, and I have to play and next thing I know I’m totally into it.  To me that’s one of the great healing things in the world, playing and laughing.  And also to go into a dark theater and sit with your popcorn and go to a fantasy world.  I’m brutally aware of the horrible shit that happens in this world, but I don’t feel like I need to contribute to it.  I choose to make my surrounding pleasant, filled with people that I love and enjoy the company of.

Q: Is that how you make your movie choices?

Chiklis:  I should say that, sometimes you read people busting on actors for their choices, but… what choices?  Only a very, very blessed handful of people actually have the word choices available to them, no matter how they pretend or make it sound like “Well, I passed on that…”  Trust me.  Like, say Will Ferrell, now he’s getting Will Ferrell scripts with A-level support.  There are rings and they get tighter and tighter.  Especially if you’re a kid like me from Boston, everything I’ve done I had to bust through each ring myself, make the relationships and bust through another ring.  I’ve had to do it through the work.  Now that I’m a 20 year veteran some of the relationships and respect that I’ve gained are starting to help me.  Plus the fact that, I think, I’m not a screaming pain in the ass.  I’m pretty easy to work with.

Q:  You haven’t hit diva status?

Chiklis:  It’s too late for me.  I couldn’t take myself seriously, I’m too Boston for that.  Plus my friends and family… there’s no way I’m coming off the ground.  I don’t want yes-men around me – I don’t want the opposite either, who’d make my life miserable just to do it – but people who are even-handed, will give your honest opinion and you can believe it.  You have trust in those people, and it’s hard, it takes years to nurture those kind of friendships.  I’m fortunate in that the best friends I grew up with are still my best friends.  They don’t ever look at me as Michael Chiklis the movie star, I’m Chiki and that’s all there is to it, they love me and would walk through fire for me and they know I would for them.  That’s invaluable to me.