In No Ordinary Family, Julie Benz and Michael Chiklis play the heads of a family that suddenly develops super powers. Chiklis (Jim) has super strength (like The Thing, his character from the Fantastic Four films) and the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound. (Sorry, I know that's Superman. Couldn't help it. He does.) Benz (Stephanie) has super speed, which not only allows her to race past traffic and security cams, it ups her metabolism so much, she can eat non-stop. Wondering where I can get that one for myself. I got a chance to chat with Chiklis and Benz about doing a family show after The Shield and Dexter, the classic comic book/superhero question of when is crime moral and if it's harder for their characters to fight crime or deal with dating teens. I believe they thought I was talking about real life here.
Newsarama: So I have to start off by mentioning all the fantastic dancing Michael did in last week's episode.
Michael Chiklis: [laughs] You know, that's meant to be fun and it was. And I guess it's just inherently funny when you try to get a guy like me to dance. You can't help but laugh at that. Let's face it. I'm not a dancer. But Romany Malco, (George) he can cut a rug.
Julie Benz: Oh, you're pretty smooth on your feet.
Nrama: You've got some moves!
Chiklis: [laughs] You think I've got some moves?
Benz: I think so!
Nrama: This show is a really big change for you both, considering what you each did last. Can you talk about what it's like to do a more family-oriented show?
Benz: For me, I was looking for something that had more mass appeal and that my parents could watch without fingers over their eyes. And I wanted to play a character that's not going to get killed off. [laughs] So it was a very easy transition for me. I like to refer to the show as a Dram-action-omedy. [laughs] It has a mixture of drama, action and comedy, and I think that television viewers just want to be entertained and that's what this show does. It really just entertains.
Chiklis: I couldn't agree more. We're making entertainment. It's for pure entertainment and we're here to have fun with it. It's such a great cast and the spirit of the show is so lovely that, as people watch it, they're just really going to be charmed by it. It's such a likeable cast of really good, talented people on every level. Writers, directors, actors, crew...I'm very fond of everyone involved and I just think that it's only going to get better and it's only going to get more and more entertaining.
Nrama: You guys are sort of discovering your powers and committing some crimes. Even if you're doing it for good, it sort of takes you into a gray moral area. This is something a lot of comic books and superheroes address. How are you addressing that?
Chiklis: Well this week's episode really does deal with that in a big way. My character is becoming, like it or not, he finds himself becoming a vigilante. And he ends up in pursuit of a vigilante who is actually murdering people. And it makes him confront head on what kind of crime fighter he's going to be and what kind of man he's going to be and how that's going to affect his family. It really is a great script, this particular one. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was really smart. And it also brings into question how the rest of the family is going to react to this sort of thing. And particularly how Stephanie and I are going to deal with it.
Nrama: I have to ask you about getting busted, since that's happening a little this week. Is that something that's going to be addressed this season? You guys becoming superheroes out in the open?
Chiklis: I don't think so, this year. I don't know. I'm not sure, but we've discussed it. I think we're going to spend some time in this undercover/secret identity place for a while because really, what we're exploring is the family and that's a whole other Pandora's box that will affect the family in a lot of different ways as well. And I think we want to wait as long as we can before we get into that. First, there's so many issues to deal with in discovering our own powers and how they affect us as a family unit without other people knowing about it. We want to spend some time in that world first.
Nrama: So which is worse? Crime fighting or having dating teen children?
Benz: [laughs] I'll let you answer that one.
Chiklis: [laughs] I have a dating teen child so I would probably rather go up against an entire gang. I'm kidding. It has it's challenges, obviously, but what I try to do as a parent is instill everything I can in terms of a moral code and everything I can impart to my children and then allow them to have their own experiences and not wrap them in cotton, which we tend to do as parents in this day and age. We tend to not give our children enough credit to live their own lives and learn their own lessons.
Nrama: Give us a little tease about the upcoming episodes.
Benz: You get to see Cybill Shephard and Bruce McGill show up as my parents and you see Stephanie unravel a bit. And in other episodes, Michael, do you want to take that?
Chiklis: In tonight's episode, we have “No Ordinary Vigilante,” which is where I, like it or not, seem to come to grips with the fact that I'm acting as a vigilante. And because I am actually confronted by another vigilante, who's actually killing people, it makes my character confront what kind of a crime fighter he's going to be. The implications of what a vigilante is.
No Ordinary Family airs Tuesday's at 8/7c on ABC.What are you enjoying about No Ordinary Family?