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Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When the Game Stands Tall'

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

Michael Chiklis turns to film for "When the Game Stands Tall." Credit: Getty Images Michael Chiklis turns to film for "When the Game Stands Tall."
Credit: Getty Images

Michael Chiklis was the captain of his football team in high school. He obviously didn’t pursue it much further than that; he became an actor with two big TV shows: “The Commish” and “The Shield.” (He’s also a circus strongman on the upcoming season of “American Horror Story.”) He occasionally finds time for film, as in last decade’s iteration of “Fantastic Four” and the new “When the Game Stands Tall,” in which he plays an assistant coach of a record-holding high school football team.

His own football experiences: “I learned a tremendous amount of life lessons through that sport. My coaches were extraordinary, though I guess I didn’t know it then. As an adult I’ve come to understand what their mentorship has meant to me. These were great men. One of them, my head coach, Dick Collins, actually passed away. He was tough as nails and very disciplined, but kind. I did this movie so my coaches would love it. I’m just sad he didn’t have a chance to see it.”

His own team sport: “I’ve been involved in some of the biggest team sports you can play, which is doing films, television and theater. We move into an area, we have to be disciplined, we have to bang out our work and do it together in a coordinated way, and then we have to go.”

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On inspirational sports movies: “When they’re well-made they’re phenomenal. They speak to the best in our nature. There are certainly enough films about man’s inhumanity to maan and all the horrible things we do. This is a movie about what we can do when we tap in to the best elements of our nature.”

Michael Chiklis plays an assistant high school football coach to Jim Caviezel in "When the Game Stands Tall." Credit: Tracy Bennett Michael Chiklis plays an assistant high school football coach to Jim Caviezel in "When the Game Stands Tall."
Credit: Tracy Bennett

Switching between film and TV: “I don’t know how different they are. The biggest difference is really budgetary and time. When you do a big behemoth like ‘Fantastic Four,” you get five, six months and $100 million. When you make a television series, it’s more abridged. But the process is always similar. The lines between film and television — forget blurred, they’re smeared. The lines are just not there anymore.”

Getting to stick with the same character on television: “It’s a tremendous benefit. Well, it can be. Sometimes you’re stuck with a character. [Laughs] I’ve been very fortunate, especially with Vic Mackey on ‘The Shield.’ That was an incredible odyssey to go through seven years in the life of a particular character and get to really realize his dimensions.”

On doing comedy and intense drama: “Variety’s the spice of life. I would hate to do the same thing for the rest of my life. One of the greatest things about being an actor is you never know what you’re going to do. It keeps you out of a gray cubicle. It makes for a colorful life and a dynamic set of experiences.”

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge

 
 
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