Part of the reason we keep going back to ABC's new super-powers show No Ordinary Family is the cast; specifically, Shield alum Michael Chiklis as the family's super-strong dad and Dexter's Julie Benz as the super-fast mom. With a new episode airing tonight, we were able to get an exclusive one-on-two interview with the power couple, and ask them about costumes, fans and where all the super-bad guys are at.
You've both held high-profile roles in sci-fi and fantasy before this show -- how much of that is typecasting, and how much is an affinity for that type of material?
Julie Benz: For me, it just happened, it's not something necessarily that I was searching out when I first started in the business. I wanted to do solely comedy and romantic comedy, specifically, but for me it's been an amazing journey, because it's really the fans of genre material that are the die-hard fans, and they follow you wherever you go. They'll follow you to every project, and they're very committed fans; they're just as passionate about the projects as we are making them. To me, it's the best part of being in this business.
Michael Chiklis: I'm trying to think of how much sci-fi I've done. Obviously I've done some Marvel features... Part of it is my own enjoyment of those genres myself. I tend to look for things that I respond to as an actor, so I don't know that it's a typecasting thing so much as looking for the best stuff that I can be involved with and some of that has ended up being sci-fi. But I don't really look at this show as sci-fi -- I know that sounds weird. It's not a denial of any kind, I think the show is definitely a superhero show, but at its core it's a family show, which was the greatest appeal of this show for me. The fact that it's in the context of a superhero family only added appeal to it. It gave it such a forum to tell all kinds of stories. It's just a very niche-oriented market out there right now, and to be able to make a show that's broadly appealing and is a hybrid of three different kinds of shows together... What do you call it, Julie?
Benz: It's a dramactionomedy. Because it's drama and action and comedy all rolled into one.
Chiklis: As an actor, that makes you feel like. "Yeah, I can live in this for seven years. I can live in this for a long time and have fun with it." And you have to look at television series that way, like, "Is this something that has potential to tell a myriad of stories and touch on light and dark and every nuance in between?" It really certainly has that.
Still, the crime-fighting is a major element of the show so far. Will we eventually see Stephanie and the kids get involved in that side of things?
Chiklis: Funny that you should mention that...
Benz: We do start, just by circumstance, to see that happening, but we don't join as a family to fight crime -- I don't think that's something we'll see right away, maybe in Season 3. But we do see, by circumstance, other family members helping out, but not necessarily by choice. And there are enormous consequences to pay, and the realization that it is dangerous, what they're doing, and they still don't know what their parameters are. They still don't know how far they can push the envelope. And what their kryptonite is. And they're discovering that along the way, so there is fear. I mean, the powers are still so very new.
Jim fought a super-powered villain in the first episode, and one briefly popped up again in the second -- will Jim encounter more powered crooks soon?
Chiklis: Yes, sir. We decided that we would space that out, so there's this broad mix of the familial stuff, and sort of a procedural element, and that there will be human crimes almost on a weekly basis, then all of a sudden we'll inject this notion of another arch-villain or rival that comes in. It just seems like the right kind of mix for the show, that keeps things fresh and interesting from a storytelling standpoint.
Has there been any discussion about whether we'll eventually see costumes or code names on the show?
Benz: Oh, I don't think costumes are really the way to go! [Laughs.] I'm not really a big fan of Spandex. I think that right now there are no plans for costumes.
Chiklis: Julie would look good in spandex, I would not.
Benz: It would just put me in a whole tailspin. I think that's what's so appealing about the show; we aren't superheroes, we're just regular people who happen to have acquired these super abilities. And we're struggling with them, and learning about them and even deciding if we're going to use them or not, and how we're going to use them and what they're doing to us. And I think that's what the real appeal of the show is, that average person who sits at home, like myself, and says, "God, I wish I had a super power. God, I wish I had super-speed today so I wouldn't have to sit in traffic."
Your characters may not be heroes, but both of you have action figures from previous roles. Do you keep copies of all of them?
Benz: I have a bobblehead! I go beyond action figures, I have an actual bobblehead from Dexter. Yeah, I have them all stored in a box somewhere, so someday when I have grandkids I can take them all out and say, "This is your grandma back when!"
Chiklis: I have a bobblehead!
Benz: You do?!
Chiklis: Yeah, I have a Vic Mackey bobblehead!
Benz: Oh my God, our bobbleheads should play together! [Laughs.]
Chiklis: Yeah, we can get them together for a play date. [Laughs.] And I have Thing action figures, too. It's fun. I end up giving them away a lot, and then having to get more. "Uncle Michael, can I have a bobblehead?"
Any interesting fan experiences?
Benz: So many fans from Dexter are still shocked that I'm alive. I get that big giant gasp, then "Oh, my God, you're alive!" And it's like, "It's acting!" [Laughs.] I still get that. I'm very charmed by it, because it means they've bought into the show and the premise of the show and the characters, and it's a testament to the writing of the show that people really think I'm dead.
Chiklis: Too many to count. Depending on the venue... I have to say Comic-Con is always a fascinating experience, how into it people get, particularly the Marvel superhero stuff. And I have to say, The Shield fans are the most rabid and dedicated I've ever encountered. They're really incredible. I've had all kinds of encounters with fans who are mainly phenomenal, but sometimes on the disturbing side.
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