A/V Room









Fantastic Four - Michael Chiklis interview

Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. Were you aware of the comic books as a child?
I'm the only one of the four that was an avid Fantastic Four fan, so that shows my age. 12, 13, 14 years old, I used to go down to the corner store and get The Fantastic Four.
I really thought I was a big comic book fan until I went to Comicon with these guys and realised what real comic-book fans were. They put the fan in fanatic, they're people, they really live it.
I knew it was going to be a little daunting when a man said to me, "Mr Chiklis, in Episode 283, when your character..." and I went, "Whoa, wait a minute..."

Q. Have you had any experiences with fans whose expectations were really high?
I've had multiple sort of encounters. Again, starting with Comicon, I had a man about my own age come up to me dressed as The Thing! That stunned me.
I've had emails, fan mail, that's really hashing it, questions and requests, like 'please, to get it right'! Or 'what are you going to be doing, exactly?'
I do wanna say to the hardcore fans, we did really labour over everything. Particularly as far as I was concerned, the look of The Thing. This was the topic from day one with myself, Tim Story and Avi Arad.
We all agreed instantly that it shouldn't be CGI. That it should be a person and silly me, I was all for it.
It obviously ended up being an incredibly onerous task being in that costume, but ultimately we made the right choice because you want to see a human being in that body, because there's tremendous amount of pathos and humanity behind Ben Grimm. If we'd done it with CGI, it would have been lost.

Q. If you had a super-power for the weekend? How would you enjoy it?
Flying sounds really good. But I've always fancied great strength. That's why I was sort of cast in the right role. But for the weekend, I think I have to go with flight too. If you only had a limited amount of time, it's the thing you could do the most with.

Q. How tough was wearing the make-up?
It really took the whole first week for me to start to really feel like I was embracing it and it wasn't in control of me. The first few days were horrible for me, I didn't expect it. I knew intellectually that I was going to be wearing this make-up; I knew what I was in for, but knowing something intellectually and then when the rubber meets the face is a different experience as it were.

Q. Is it claustrophobic?
I’ve never been a claustrophobe. I even talked to a psychiatrist during this period. I had to. I’m not anxious by nature, I’m a kind of a laid back person I don’t expeirience anxiety ever.
But for me to have meltown that first day totally surprised me. There were a lot of people counting on me; my entire network had pushed shooting of The Shield back three ands a half months to accomodate me doing this movie, so I think that contributed to it. As soon as I had the thought in my mind, 'I can't do this', it sort of snowballed on me, how can I tell them kind of thing.
It took a few days for me to get used to it; for me to go, 'ok, I can breathe, I can hear, I can see, I can speak. I'm all right'. That became my mantra.
Finally I went okay and it got better and better. The other guys saved me because they were so patient and phenomenal in terms of letting me shoot my side first so I could take my legs off! They were amazing in that way and I thanked them all the time for it.
I consider it one of the triumphs of my life when I heard the words, 'Michael, you’re wrapped'.

Q. What did you think of the negative reaction from some of the US critics?
It certaintly seemed like they were reviewing Wuthering Heights. Look, we went in to it knowing what it was and what we were trying to make, which was a fun ride - something to go to with the family, friends, or a date, or with children, with a big barrel of popcorn, candy and a soda, and have a ride and a laugh. That's it, that's what it is, a jaunt. It's fun!

Q. After the box office success, are you now locked into a new franchise and facing the possibility of more movies?
I'm so thrilled to be here right now! Doing this movie was sort of an hour by hour process for me. So it's hard for me to go there yet, back into that Thing. But I've signed up for two more. But we all look forward, I'm sure, to doing more. But we're all pretty road-tired at the moment and we can't wait to hear people's response to it for the moment.
It is a long process. You shoot the movie for five or six months and then you wait for five or six months for it to get posted. Then all of a sudden it all comes down to one weekend and, thank God, it opened! It was big and it's doing really well. Now you sort of want to get feedback from people. You want to go into the back of the theatre with a hat on and listen to kids laugh.

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