If you’d never seen Michael Chiklis other than in his Emmy-winning role as ferocious, corrupt cop Vic Mackey on FX’s “The Shield,” or as the lovable Thing in the Fantastic Four films, you might never recognize him in his previous, portlier incarnations as the lead on “The Commish” and in the short-lived sitcom “Daddio.”
Overnight, “The Shield” put FX and the newly pumped-up Chiklis on the map just as dramatically as “The Sopranos” had done for HBO and James Gandolfini. But this wasn’t HBO. Chiklis became the first actor to win an Emmy for a basic-cable series.
“It’s really hard to describe,” Chiklis says of the impact his win had at the time. “Huge bombs went off. It represented a tectonic shift in the business, and we knew it. My formerly small network, FX, knew right then and there it had all changed. It was thrilling to be the face of that, to represent that in so many ways.”
Now, as “The Shield” draws to a close after seven riotous seasons, Chiklis says, “It has been the singularly greatest experience of my working career, professionally, artistically, personally,” adding that it’s “hard to quantify” just what the role of Vic Mackey has meant to his career. “As an actor, in terms of the respect it’s brought and the notoriety, it’s just been a tremendous boon for me.”
Chiklis says he’s getting his share of offers that are just variations on Mackey.
“That’s inevitable,” he says, “but you need to be discerning. Not everyone has choices available to them, but I think that it’s important to stick to your guns and hold out as long as you can” in trying to reinvent himself post-“Shield.”
He’s not overly concerned about being typecast, however. “It’s interesting the way it goes. If ‘The Shield’ had been on any of the major networks, I never would have been seen for it,” he says. “I was typecast as the roly-poly, affable guy. Now, ironically, it’s the opposite (side) of the coin, where people only see me as a maniacal tough guy. I’ve been able to reinvent myself before, so I know I can do it.”
While Chiklis is prepping a project for his own feature directorial debut, he’s hoping for another juicy role. He has his eyes set on feature films, but he says if a great television role came along, he wouldn’t hesitate to do it.
The actor also admits he’s gone into a bit of a post-show depression since the series wrapped.
“I just want to take my time. I’m not looking to outdo myself,” he explains. “I’ve been spoiled. It was everything you’d want to sink your teeth into as an actor, just a tremendous role.”