In his first TV show since retiring the role of Vic Mackey in The Shield, Michael Chiklis will soon be bounding into your living room as Jim Powell, a police sketch artist who receives the supernatural powers of super-strength, the ability to be bullet-proof and can leap buildings in a…well, you get the idea.
We caught up with Chiklis at San Diego’s Comic-Con and talked to him about his upcoming role and how it is and isn’t a departure from characters he’s portrayed in the past. After all, how do you follow up Vic Mackey by playing another cop?
“Here we have a family show at its core, wrapped in a police procedural, wrapped in a superhero show. That’s something I’ve not seen before. If The Shield lacked any credibility at all, it was the fact that Mackey didn’t have an aneurysm. Seven years of that can wreck havoc on your nervous system and it’s really kind of great and refreshing to do something that I can sit with my family and watch. My eleven year old was starting to question whether I was even an actor. She’s like, ‘dad, do you really act? I can’t see anything you’re in.’”
The concept behind No Ordinary Family will sound familiar to Fantastic Four and The Incredibles fans, but there hasn’t been an adaptation in this vein developed for television in recent memory. Sure, four characters get powers (strength, super speed, telepathy and super intelligence) and yes, it’s combined within a family that is struggling to stay connected and important to each other. But what would you rather see? Superheroes or more Cops?
“I thought it was long overdue. I did the Fantastic Four movies and I’ve been a comic book geek for a long time, since I was a kid. It’s funny though, a bunch of people have said to me, almost as if there’s been tons and tons of superhero shows on television, and to mind, I only can think of one, really in the last 20 years, which is Heroes, which is a decidedly different show.
But I’m thinking, we’re on cop show 475,000 and no one goes, ‘oh really, another cop show?!’ And some people are all, oh you’re going to play another superhero again? Yes! This place (Comic-Con) isn’t getting smaller. Now they’re making more money at Comic-Con than they did at the SuperBowl. This is a genre that’s here to stay. And it’s only natural as a genre to explore the different shapes of it.”
One point that Chiklis is happy talk about is the fact that he’s a strong advocate for a strong sense of wonder when a character has been bestowed with supernatural powers. He feels that sense of euphoria is missing in the development of characters and made it a point to include that as a hook with No Ordinary Family.
“With every super power movie that I’ve seen, one of the things that’s always been lacking for me is the characters never have a sense of wonder about what they can do. It’s always sort of like, ‘oh, I can fly!’ and one minute later they completely accept it and that’s the end of it. And it’s like, REALLY? If I could fly, I’d shit myself and faint! You’d get excited about that, wouldn’t you? So, what I’m trying to do is try to bring that 14 year old wonder to it. Let’s have fun with this. What if, by some crazy circumstance this really happened to me? Let that wash over you. Let that last. I think that will translate into the show and people will get excited and take that ride.
Now that we’ve established that Powell can give Superman a run for his money and that he’s going to remain giddy (at least for the time being) on developing these powers, we couldn’t help but wonder what kinds of situations Chiklis would like to put his character into to test his boundaries.
“We’ve been jamming on different things, but I will say, not Lycra. We’re all talking, especially now, where you go from pilot to series, that period of who are we, what are we and what we’re trying to do is create a bit of a broader canvas where some episodes might be on the lighter side, some might slide darker, to keep you guessing and to keep it fresh and exciting for us. I don’t want to do something where this is a light show and that’s it. Nor do I want to do The Dark Knight on a weekly basis. But, if there’s something that sort of shifts into all of these realms, and is able to maintain that suspension of disbelief of credibility, we got you!”
The series premiere of No Ordinary Family is September 28 on ABC.