MICHAEL CHIKLIS Edited by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for Radio Free Entertainment
July 6, 2005
In the comic-to-film action adventure Fantastic Four, a group of five individuals embark on an outer space mission into the heart of a cosmic storm. But when a miscalculation exposes them to a mysterious radiation, they begin to exhibit superhuman powers. One member of the expedition chooses to use his newfound gifts for personal gain, while the other four take the more altruistic approach.
Michael Chiklis plays the tough but sentimental Ben Grimm, who is transformed into a stony colossus with super strength and durability. As part of the Fantastic Four, he is known as the Thing. In this interview, Michael talks about playing the reluctant hero whose altered physical appearance prompts some to assume that he is a monster.
MEDIA: Tell us a little about your character.
MICHAEL: Ben Grimm is the everyman that's the reluctant hero. He's the one in the Fantastic Four that doesn't want these powers, doesn't want to be the Thing. Certainly he can't switch back and forth, so he's really got the biggest problem of all of them. And he's a curmudgeony kind of a guy. I really admire the strength of character of this character, and that's what sort of drew me to him. He's the heart and soul of this group.
How familiar were you with the Fantastic Four when you took this role?
I thoroughly enjoyed the comic when I was a kid, and the opportunity to play [the Thing] was something I was really psyched about. But it became probably the most daunting experience of my life once I got into that suit. It was just brutally hot, brutally difficult. I did not have a great time in the making of the movie because it was so physically and emotionally taxing for me. It was just really, really difficult.
How do you feel about the movie as a finished product?
I think it turned out really well. It's what you want in a summer blockbuster. It's fun. It's a popcorn movie. It's not pretentious. You'll eat your popcorn and you'll be entertained thoroughly, and you'll go home smiling. And what's wrong with that?
As someone who supported this project from the very beginning, do you believe in the positive message the movie conveys?
Yeah, I do totally believe in it, because when you think about what a summer blockbuster should be, it should be something that the whole family can go to and really enjoy, whether you're 8, 18, or 80. Everybody should be able to go and enjoy it. As a parent, I often bring my kids to movies where they're having a good time, and I'm like [groans], "Please end!" But I had a blast watching this movie. And I know that my 11-year-old had a blast, my 6-year-old had a blast, and my 18-year-old cousin had a blast. People of all ages can enjoy this because it's not lightweight, but it's light. It's fun. It's cheeky--we have our tongues firmly planted in cheek and we're not taking ourselves so seriously. We're just making a ride.
So where's the Thing suit right now?
I can tell you where the face is. The last face that I wore is in my office. But it's sort of like the Raisin Thing, because it shrivels in the air. I didn't realize that after a number of weeks, it sort of starts to shrivel. And it kind of looks disturbing at this point. [laughs]
When will we see more of the Fantastic Four on the big screen?
Well, that's really up to the people. If they come and see the movie, then that'll be a good reason for us to get back into the suits and do it again.