Exclusive High School Clip and Michael Chiklis Interview
Anchor Bay Films
May 31, 2012
Anchor Bay Films has provided ComingSoon.net with an exclusive clip from John Stalberg Jr.'s stoner comedy High School, plus we have an exclusive interview with one of the film's stars, Michael Chiklis.
The movie stars Matt Bush as Henry Burke, a high school valedictorian who decides to try marijuana for the first time just before the school's Principal Gordon (Chiklis) decides to institute a “zero tolerance" policy on drugs, forcing all the students to take mandatory drug tests. Since Henry doesn't want to be expelled before graduating, he and his best friend Breaux (Sean Marquette) steal a highly-dosed stash from the local drugdealer, Psycho Ed (played by Oscar winner Adrien Brody), with plans to get the entire school and staff stoned.
The exclusive clip is actually the first couple of minutes of the movie showing the spelling bee incident that gets Principal Gordon so angry, he calls for the school-wide drug tests.
Chiklis is probably best known for his long stint on the award-winning FX police drama "The Shield" as well as bringing the popular Fantastic Four member Benjamin J. Grimm a.k.a. The Thing to the big screen. While he may be almost unrecognizable as Principal Gordon, wearing a wig, glasses and moustache, it's a role that allows him to play around with the high school principal archetypes that were at the center of so many memorable high school comedies from the '80s.
ComingSoon.net got on the phone with Chiklis last week to talk about playing such a different role from what we're used to from him. Unfortunately, the publicist decided we should only get ten minutes, so we didn't even get to ask about "The Shield" or any of the other things we would have liked to ask him about.
ComingSoon.net: Must be weird talking about this movie, because you must have shot it at least three years ago.
Michael Chiklis: Four years ago we shot it and two years ago it was at the Sundance Film Festival, so it's quite a while ago, but I think the reason why we're all here is that we had a blast shooting it. It was a lot of fun, and watching it at Sundance, it was funny, a real howl. We thought it was a killer movie, John did a terrific job. I think it's like the world's only cinematic stoner comedy ever shot. It's actually beautifully shot, it looks great.
CS: I think it played the one year at Sundance where I didn't go, but I heard about the screenings there. I still haven't had a chance to see it with an audience, though.
Chiklis: It's a great movie to see in a theater 'cause just the collective of people howling at it, and it was fun being in the theater for that. It was quite something. I did it because I wasn't getting too many opportunities to do an outrageous comedy and it was an opportunity for me to sort of disappear into a character and play something really outrageous and absurd and fun.
CS: I have to say that if I hadn't booked this interview, I might not have known that was you playing the principal.
Chiklis: Well, that's what happened and why it was so much fun as an actor to be at Sundance, and no one knew it was me. They watched the whole movie and then the credits came up and I literally heard people go "Oh my God!" and then afterwards people were coming up to me and I was dumbstruck, and that's fun for an actor. That's exactly one of the reasons I wanted to do it, aside from it being really funny and liking that genre. I was a fan of movies like "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" growing up and “Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and some of these stoner comedies are so hilarious. I thought that this could potentially be a classic.
CS: The high school principal is definitely a movie archetype we've seen before, and you mentioned two great examples of that, so what did you want to bring to that archetype you haven't seen before?
Chiklis: Well, at the time, I just thought it's that whole gap between the young, wild idealistic kid and the repressed, sort of bound-up… (laughs) It's kind of a tried and true thing throughout these kinds of comedies that you see and I just thought it would be fun to put my spin on it. I just based him on a few people that have passed through my life. I've known some guys that are completely bound-up, they couldn't relax (laughs) and I decided to have some fun with it, especially giving him that (goes into his accent for movie) pretentious mid-Atlantic sound. (laughs)
CS: That's funny, because I went to school in Massachusetts myself, so I wondered if you had any specific principal or teacher you based him on?
Chiklis: No, not my principals. There are a couple of teachers that I based him on that were yeah, just completely bound-up and needed to relax. (laughs) Colin Hanks and I had a blast shooting this movie. We were sort of cloistered in a way while we were making the movie, because most of our scenes were just he and I together, at least for the first couple of weeks that we were shooting. One day we were just howling laughing and ruining takes and cracking up laughing and he turned to me and goes, “I don't know about the rest of this movie, but the movie we're making is f*cking hilarious." (laughs) We were laughing out loud and having a great time and it's rare that you have an opportunity that you get to be in something that you laugh a lot at every day.
CS: I definitely got the impression that the adult actors were having as much or more fun than the kids making the movie.
Chiklis: Yeah, Adrien (Brody) just plays a nutjob and he was having a blast with that. It was great to play people that have nothing to do with you, that you can see that element of pretend, just fun. You're just completely sliding into a different person's skin and really truly taking on an acting role. Everybody couldn't be further from the parts that they played so we were just really enjoying ourselves and laughing about it.
CS: How did you and John work on the look for your character?
Chiklis: First conversation we had was that he had a picture of this high school principal that he showed me, and I just loved it. I loved it. The only difference was that the guy had sandy blonde hair, but otherwise, it was the exact same look. He had the moustache from the '80s, the glasses, and that same sort of partial comb-over, and I just said that I needed him to be a redhead because he's such a clown, and he loved it. It was just that first conversation that we had that sparked the whole look of the character. I thought it was very funny on paper and I just could tell who these people were. All of them were really well drawn, so we had a good time.
CS: How long did it take you to get used to wearing a wig and the moustache? It's been a while since you've had to do anything like that, really.
Chiklis: Well, sometimes that kind of a thing is what absolutely makes the character happen. I usually work from the inside out but sometimes in comedy it's fun to work from the outside in. When they put that wig on me and I had the moustache. Once I got that terrible… I think literally both of my suits combined that I wore in that movie cost $100. (laughs) Just horrible, cheap sh*t three-piece suits and once I looked at myself in the mirror with the whole costume on, and then the voice and the walk, it completed the character for me.
CS: I'm assuming you've been busy doing other things since finishing this. One of your other movies "Pawn" just got picked up by Anchor Bay as well.
Chiklis: Yeah, yeah, just literally a few weeks ago, I found out that Anchor Bay was making overtures and that we were going to make a deal with them but hadn't put together that Anchor Bay was putting out "High School." I hadn't put that together until just a couple weeks ago and "Oh, look at that!" It's just happenstance, nothing by design or anything, it was just totally two different circumstances and I'm happy for them and I'm glad they wanted to pick up a movie that we shot in December with my production company.
CS: I didn't realize you produced "Pawn" as well. I have spoken with Jason Statham about the "Parker" movie you're doing, and I read a lot of the novels, so is it based on one of them in particular or an amalgam? Is that completely done at this point?
Chiklis: It's not completely done. It's kind of an amalgam and I just leapt at the opportunity to work with (director) Taylor Hackford, who I'd been a fan of for many, many years. It was a great experience and I had a lot of fun with those guys, and I particularly loved Jennifer Lopez. I thought she was awesome and great to work with, and we had a nice time together. It was cool. The only downside of that picture was that it was August and September in Louisiana, and it was so hot. It was like 111 degrees and 85 percent humidity, so that made it a little oppressive but we had a great time on the gig.
CS: Any idea when we might see that or if it might be at one of the festivals later this year?
Chiklis: I'm hearing sometime in the late fall or early winter, but I don't know if they're going to make that date. I really don't know. I was just a hired hand on that one. I just went in and did my gig and now it's in their hands.
CS: What else have you been up to? Anything else you're looking forward to starting?
Chiklis: Yeah, I just had my television series picked up, called "Vegas" with me and Dennis Quaid, so we go into production in late July, and that's what's next. It's a cool gig. We just got picked up last week by CBS and went to the upfronts.
High School opens in New York and other cities on Friday, June 1.