The day job has Michael Chiklis extorting, killing and meting out rough justice as Vic Mackey, the worst sort of cop to wear The Shield. It's only natural he would want a little break from that. He was more than happy to leave the mean streets behind, to slip on a latex suit and play The Thing in Fantastic Four.
And so were his kids."My youngest, Odessa , was starting to wonder if Daddy was an actor after all," he jokingly says from L.A. "Coming off years on The Shield, all they had to tell me was, it'll be a movie I can bring my kids to see."
He would play Ben Grimm, pal since college of Mr. Fantastic, a streetwise guy who mutates into the wise-cracking -- "It's clobberin' time!" -- stone-cold beast, The Thing. He reprises the role in the second Fantastic Four film, Rise of the Silver Surfer, opening Friday.
But Chiklis, 43, didn't know what he was getting himself into --or what suit he would be getting himself into."The first film, it was just a bad situation, physically," he says "They had designed it. You can't really change the suit once the meter is running and the train has left the station. You just go, 'Just roll camera.'
"But I'm boiling in there!"The suit was a trap for the actor, something he couldn't escape during his long days on the set."They had never put anybody in latex that heavy, from head to foot, before," he says. "The only part of my body exposed to the air was my eyeballs. No place for all that body heat to go. Insufferably hot. That's the nature of that big latex costume.
"It's always going to be somewhat uncomfortable, playing The Thing. But for the second film, I could remove it at any time in-between takes. That made all the difference in the world. I wasn't locked in it for 12 hours at a time, trapped in a pool of my own sweat. Kind of disgusting, I'm sorry. But that's The Thing for you."
They don't call actors "troupers" for nothing, though. Chiklis found ways to use that experience."Ironically, as uncomfortable as that [first suit] was, it made me move in a way that was right for my character," he says. "It gave me the sense memory for the rest of the movie franchise. This one, I could slip it off in five minutes. It was like getting a raise in salary."
Chiklis, Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba and Chris Evans -- who play the title characters -- are all signed up for a third Four, which is almost a certainty, "depending on the box office," Chiklis says.
And he's looking forward to a third film, where his love interest (played by Kerry Washington) should -- if they follow the comic-book story line that inspired the films -- turn out to be the daughter of one of the Four's worst enemies.
Meanwhile, that day job beckons. He's readying to return for a final season of playing Mackey, "the amoral anti-hero at the heart of TV's darkest cop show, The Shield," as Chicago Tribune critic Maureen Ryan has written. "Chiklis' tightly coiled performance supplies the entire endeavor with an electrifying jolt. Chiklis is not only capable of conveying the violence, bravery and evasion that fill Vic's days, but of an almost frightening subtlety."
But the role that won him an Emmy is ending."I can't go there, yet," he says, noting that production on that last season begins Monday. "I'm in the denial stage that this is ending. I have to go and do it. And if I think about it, I'll be done.
"You can't have Vic Mackey busting out into tears on the first day. Save it for the wrap party."
Roger Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5369.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times