As corrupt LAPD cop Vic Mackey on The Shield, Michael Chiklis plays one mean S.O.B. Mackey has killed a fellow officer, stolen money from the Armenian mafia and burned a suspect’s face on a stove. So who’s going to call him on it when he’s 10 minutes late to the first tee at Calabasas Country Club near Los Angeles.
“Maybe it’s my age,” he says, “but I don’t feel like I have to apologize to anybody.”
Hey, your tee, detective.
With his bulldog physique and wraparound shades, the 41-year-old Chiklis is more hollow-point than Hollywood. Bogeys and birdies are met with mere smiles. Chiklis credits his calm to his hero, Raymond Floyd, with whom he won a pro-celebrity event at La Quinta in 1991. After a perfect drive, Floyd shanked a sand wedge dead right. “He just said, ‘Huh,’ and then hit the next shot three inches from the hole,” Chiklis recalls. “It was a valuable lesson–never get hot because you need to hit the next shot. I also learned the great Raymond Floyd can shank it.”
A hectic schedule–and a starring role as hideous superhero The Thing in The Fantastic Four, opening July 8–hasn’t done much for Chiklis’s game, but “Chickie,” as his friends call him, isn’t complaining. He remembers when his thing was sitting by the phone.
“I’m a comeback player,” he says. “I never quit. Just like in this business–people thought I was out a couple of times.”
After some lean years in the 1980s, in 1991 he landed the part of the easygoing cop on ABC’s The Commish, a role for which he packed on the pounds to create the lovable character. When the show was canceled four years later, another career lull followed until he shed 52 pounds from his 5-foot-9-inch frame and shaved his head. Then a friend showed him a pilot script about a lawless detective. Five pages in, Chiklis saw his future. “It was everything I was looking for to reinvent myself,” he says. Just one problem: his teddy-bear image.
So he took drastic action at his audition. “I became infuriated on my way over there, thinking, ‘They probably think of me as that sweet guy, and they’re never going to give me this role.’ I needed to intimidate them.” He did. One casting assistant recoiled in horror when Chiklis, immersed in character and cursing, lurched toward her.
Chiklis leaves the malevolent Mackey on the set. Still, Vic–or maybe the volatile Thing–makes a cameo appearance at Calabasas after the actor snap-hooks his drive on the par-4 11th and makes an 8. Mackey would never card a quad, Chiklis admits. “He’d get right in your face”–he comes in real close–“and say, ‘Bogey.’ “
Let’s call it a par, just to be safe.
Dialed In with Michael Chiklis
In the loop
Caddied in high school at Indian Ridge Country Club in Andover, Massachusetts, to pay for his first car, a “mellow yellow” 1979 AMC Hornet.
1, for the best actor on FX’s The Shield (Tuesdays, 10 p.m.)
That he did
To play The Thing in The Fantastic Four, opening July 8, Chiklis wore a 60-pound latex suit that sent him into therapy. “It was so hot that I had to be plugged into a cooling system to lower my body temperature. It was intense and miserable. [The face] was glued inside my mouth, nose and eyelids. I’m not claustrophobic, but I had to talk to a psychiatrist for a couple months.”