Michael Chiklis intimidating, yet heroic presence on screen has earned him a reputation for his versatility. Best known for his role as Vic Mackey in the TV series The Shield, the actor has a passion for diversifying his performances by always staying away from his comfort zone, and trying to constantly break new ground. In his latest film appearance, Parker, he plays Melander, a despicable thief who is willing to betray his closest partners in order to get what he wants.

A passionate human being in all aspects of life, Mr. Chiklis talked about his experience working with director Taylor Hackford, meeting Helen Mirren, his eclectic taste in music and the arts, as well as how the characters he plays have influenced his personal life.

How was the experience of playing the bad guy Melander in Parker?

This guy is a malevolent prick, great, I kind just sort of unabashedly be a dick, which is fun. I mean, when do you get to do that in real life? You don’t. Unless you wanna be a pariah. One of the wonderful things about being an actor is you get to walk a mile in another man’s shoes, the other great thing is then you get to step out of them, and not be in those shoes anymore. It was wonderful to sort of step into a pair of shoes of a guy who is all about himself, narcissistic, sociopathic douchebag , and just let that be.

Do you think people confuse the real you with the characters you play?

Judging by the look on my daughter’s boyfriends’ faces, yes. Certainly I think Vic Mackey in particular had an effect on people. I’ve had grown men shake my hand like this (trembling hand), and I’m like “Dude its allright I’m not gonna hurt you”. That’s happened. You know what, as a father of daughters that’s not such a horrible thing, there is benefits to that. It’s funny. Some times is scary though, because some people really don’t have the capacity, it seems anyway, to separate truth from fiction. It is a movie, we are actors, we are playing parts. I’m not f***ing Vic Mackey, I’m not. I’m not a malevolent prick. I’m just not. I had fun playing one, and I’m sure I’ll play others in the future, but I like to mix it up, play all kinds of people.

What do you prefer to play, the villain or the hero?

I don’t prefer to do one or the other; I like to do all of it. I’m terrified of complacency, and I do not like to be boxed-in. I’ve always wanted to be diverse, the more diverse you are the more of an opportunity you’ll have to play a wide variety of roles, I think personally. Some people thrive in an area, they have their note, they’re terrific at it, and they just sing that note all the way to the bank. Good for them, that’s just not my way, I cant’ do that.  You don’t like listening to one band right? If you’d look at my Ipod you’d freak out. I mean there is everything from Rachmaninoff to The Tubes on there. I have an eclectic taste in film, television, in musicals.People freak out because I went to see Glengarry Glen Ross when I was just in New York, and the next night at was at Newsies, and I dug both. That’s life. I’d hate like hell to look at the same flower everyday no matter how beautiful it was right? So, it just makes, to me, a more interesting life and career. And I’m just blessed that I’ve been able to be afforded the opportunity.

How was the experience of working with Jennifer Lopez?

She was lovely. She is so “Jenny from the block”. I apologized to her when I met her. I was like “I’m sorry”, she is like “Why?” and I was like “ For what I’m about to do to you”. She was like “Oh that’s OK “ (impersonates Jennifer Lopez). She was all “hoody” with me, and I was like “OK Cool”. So, she just gave me permission, and then she was just lovely and sweet. By the way, you have all these preconceived notions you hear, none of that. There was no entourage, there was no weirdness, she was just a committed actress that was there working with us. She didn’t put herself above anyone, nothing, none of that.

With Parker having a well-known source material, do you get inspiration from the original text or only the script?

I did just in deference because I’ve had the experience of doing biopics, and material that’s known. I’m of the mind that you do to show some deference to the fanbase of a particular piece, or group of works, or person that you’re portraying. You are making a mistake if you don’t. Now, I knew that this was a modernized telling of it, so really at the end of the day I don’t suppose you had to, but I think it does inform you in terms of a core sort of outlook that the writer had. I don’t know if I got anything from it at all, because really it became about the script at that point. I think Taylor was really sensitive to it, so that was really in his hands to a large degree.

What kind of director is Taylor Hackford?

He is a bit of a general, and generals can be blustery, abrupt, and hardcore; but they can also be soulful and helpful. I think he is all of those things and a lot more. I’ll tell you one of my favorite moments on this movie was shooting at that mansion in Sarasota. We were at the Ringling Brothers mansion in Sarasota, which is this massive mansion that is kind of a museum now. It was uncomfortable ‘cause we were like in wetsuits with fireman’s gear over the wetsuits, it was just horrendously uncomfortable, but then at 3 in the morning we were all just like “uggghhh”. My Red Soxs had just been eliminated, I was low, and then onto the set walks Helen Mirren, who did not disappoint at all, she was just as lovely as could be. I became just like a 14 year-old at a Justine Beiber concert, I was just like “Oh its Hellen Mirren” (impersonates teenager girl). She was lovely, and attentive, and sweet.

There was lot of cool stuff about this thing. Actually my favorite part was working with Micah and Wendell, and Clifton because really the four of us were a crew, and we worked all the time together, and we didn’t work all the time together. We would work for three days, then we’d be off for like a week in New Orleans.

How are Melander’s morals different from Parker’s given that they are both criminals?

We were talking about this. How interesting it is that because of the human condition we justify all men of evil acts based on the perspective of the villain. Sometimes we look at a villain and we go “Yeah, but he is doing it because of x” or “Robin Hood steals from the rich”, but in a court of law my guy is going to the same jail Parker is going to. That said, you know, I think people respond to certain, at least, aparences of nobility: “I only steal from people who are basically perceived as being corrupted someway, the super rich”, “I only hurt those who deserve to be hurt”, “I only seek vengeance against those who earn it from me.” There are people who are of that mindset. It’s fascinating; we could spend three hours on that.