After seven seasons of award-winning work on THE SHIELD, what is the thought process when it comes to jumping back into television?
Michael Chiklis: My first though was actually to not jump back into TV. I thought I needed to let THE SHIELD breathe, do some feature work and take life easy for a while. And then, when I decided to look back into what was happening on television, the thing I start with is the script. It’s not like science or brain surgery, I was simply looking for a really great script and a character that you feel like you can live with for an extended period of time, because unlike a feature — which is a one off situation — you sort of have to live with a TV series for a while. Clearly, I wanted to do something that was different than Vic Mackey [THE SHIELD] and while that didn’t necessarily preclude a drama, it had to have been different, powerful and good.
Just looking at the television landscape, where everything is just broken up into niche entertainment right now, I definitely saw a gap in family programming. As a father and husband, there is precious little I can sit with my family and watch, certainly in terms of scripted series’ there’s next to nothing and I thought that’s a challenge in and of itself, to do something with universal appeal. Plus, I’m a superhero geek. You know I’m a Marvel fan and NO ORDINARY FAMILY is an opportunity to actually mix genres and take on the superhero genre in a different light which just seemed really fresh, fun and something that hasn’t been done on television before.
From the outset, the show has been called by many a live action version of The Incredibles. What does that kind of comparison mean to you?
It just means you have to be great in every area. I welcome the comparisons to The Incredibles, but I like to point out to people that The Incredibles is an hour and a fifty minute animated feature that Pixar got seven years to make, pour over every single moment and if a moment didn’t work they could just do something else. They had that luxury of time where you could literally bring something to perfection. So the challenge for us is to make essentially a forty-five minute Marvel or Pixar feature every nine working days and the show really is a feature in both production value and scale.
Will the show continue to juggle the family drama with the superhero mythology, or have you found as you’ve continued shooting that you’re leaning towards one aspect over the other?
No, we keep juggling between the two and I think we’ll continue to walk that line. I think that the first two episodes out of the gate we were left facing down a bear and figuring a lot of things out which has been a giant learning curve. But as we continue shooting the episodes have gotten better and better and we’re finding that tonal balance between all of these different things in a way that’s smart, funny and dramatic. We all feel that the show is a family drama at its core and the superhero element only allows us a great breadth of storytelling ability.
With the recent string of gay teenaged suicides making headlines, bullying in schools has unfortunately come to the forefront of the national conversation. Has there been any talk on set with the writers about possibly using the show to address the issue about growing up different?
There have been some cursory conversations and ironically there has been a little bit of that in the episodes by sort of coincidence prior to these stories breaking, but not where the focus of the whole episode was about bullying. That said, we all know that bullying is present in schools, everybody grew up with bullies and I think that’s definitely a ripe area for us to explore down the line given what’s happened in recent months.
And finally, how long until you discover that your son J.J. has been hiding his powers from you? And more importantly, if every superhero has their own version of kryptonite, how long until you come face-to-face with yours?
I have discovered one of my, if not the only thing that acts as a kryptonite to me in an upcoming episode. As for J.J., we’re becoming more and more suspicious of him in tonight’s episode and shortly there after our suspicions will be confirmed!
NO ORDINARY FAMILY airs on Tuesdays at 8PM on ABC (CTV in Canada)