Michael Chiklis: “Telling myself that I will forever be Vic of The Shield is not a compliment” (interview)

Michael Chiklis: “Telling myself that I will forever be Vic of The Shield is not a compliment” (interview)

The 60-year-old actor returns in Hotel Cocaine, a series by Chris Brancato in competition at Séries Mania. We chat with him about his film career, Martin Scorsese, a hotplate and of course the latest episode of The Shield.

So here you are again in the shoes of a cop… It would almost become a habit.
(He smiles) I found a standard answer to this question: if Monet continued to paint flowers throughout his life, it was because he found a great variety in them, and there was always something different that was interested. And then if I made it a rule to systematically refuse to play cops, I would give up on 50% of the existing roles… But to tell you the truth, I really didn't particularly want to play a police officer again at that moment. -there. When I was offered the project, I didn't even have the script. It was the name of Chris Brancato that intrigued me: very good showrunner, an intelligent guy, whose work I had liked on Narcos. And in the cast, there was also Danny Pino. I love Danny, he gives his all and we did a great job together in The Shield. There's this scene where I torture him and I smash his face on a hotplate, something crazy, super violent. He played it like a champ, but it confused us all.

In the evening, Walton Goggins called me, horrified: “ What the hell did we just do, man? » Exactly like Shane would talk to Vic on the show. I told him : ” We just filmed a scene from a series. Go home, take a shower and forget all about it. » We were shaken. One day, Martin Scorsese came and tapped me on the shoulder at an awards ceremony: “ The scene where you burn this guy's face on the plate, how did you do that? It's the most violent thing I've ever seen! » Um, really, Marty? Are you the one telling me that? (Laughter.) So I explained to him and he said, “ I'm going to steal this from you, it's great. » And he walked away talking to himself (Laughter.) Don't be surprised if one day he uses the concept in one of his films!

I rewatched the final episode of The Shield to prepare for this interview, and it's still not far from being the perfect conclusion.
I completely agree. And I'm not saying that to throw flowers at myself, it all comes from Shaw Ryan (the showrunner and creator of the series). The only thing I did was help him check off everything this ending couldn't be. We started talking about it three years before this final episode. I didn't see Vic ending up as king of the world, before getting shot at the last minute. No more than a shot of him behind bars, with the door closing on his face… And one day, Shawn calls me and asks me to come see him at his house: “ I got it. ” Perfection. It’s a series about ambiguity and ambivalence. Vic can't stand the lukewarmness and literally ends up in it: he's now a dull guy in a dull suit, in a dull office. He lost everything, but he still got through it…sort of. It's very bitter. However, this ending may suggest that the beast in him will wake up one day. And that’s the damn question I get asked all the time: “ When are you going to do the sequel? »And that's not going to happen, from what I understand. But never say never: we've discussed possible scenarios with Shawn, and it would be great.

You could almost start from that last scene and do a version dark of The Officewith Vic as open space torturer Michael Scott.
Ah ah ah, and we'll do camera looks? Ah ah! Great, I hadn't thought of that!

When The Shield ended, I was convinced you were going to become a movie star. And then it didn’t quite happen like that… Why?
Difficult question. It's not like I could have done much about it… I just wasn't offered the roles I needed. Sometimes an actor leaves an indelible image in people's minds and it's difficult for them to get rid of it. This has happened to me several times in my career, and I continue to fight against it again and again. It's a frustration, especially since I know very well what I'm capable of. And it's very difficult not to have the opportunity to prove it. When people tell me on Twitter or in real life that I will be “ always Vic Mackey » in their eyes, well it's not a compliment. I appreciate that we love The Shield and the way I played the character, but to tell myself that I will forever be Vic, no matter what I do, is not doing me credit. When my friend Tom Brady (American football superstar, now retired) was asked what his favorite season was, he always replied: “ The next. » This is how I live my life.

Listening to you, it almost seems like you have a love-hate relationship with the character of Vic and The Shield ?
Oh no, absolutely not, just love. It was great to experience, a collective, almost family thing. And an artistic tour de force. When you're lucky enough to have something like that in your career, you have the right to feel lucky. And then I still participated in six or seven projects which were a hit. Besides, I'm still here, eh, it's not over (He smiles).

The Shield was born during a golden age of the series. Things have evolved a lot since then, particularly with the arrival of platforms and countless amounts of content of very variable quality. What does this inspire you?
Series like The Shield Or The Sopranos started a revolution, which consisted of migrating the demand from cinema to television. It was possible to make high quality, intelligent and truly cinematic series. Today everything has changed and it is mainly about economics and distribution systems. We have reached the peak and we are entering a contraction phase. The good news is that contractions usually lead to quality rather than quantity. Okay, I know it seems like I'm beating around the bush… The truth is, I don't really know anything about it. Do you know what's going to happen?

Absolutely not.
Well there you go, we're at the same point (Laughter.)

Hotel Cocaine does not currently have a French broadcaster.

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