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Health & Balance

A Thing or Two With Michael Chiklis

Actor Michael Chiklis talks to WebMD about summer sequels, his brief bout with claustrophobia and longtime struggle with weight gain, and why balance is the key to good health.
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WebMD the Magazine - Feature

Your new film, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, is the sequel to the summer 2005 blockbuster, and once again you play "The Thing." We hear you had a really hard time with the costume the first time around ...

I really freaked out. I experienced the feeling of claustrophobia for the first and only time in my life. The costume was made from thick latex rubber, and I had to sit in a chair for five hours while it was literally glued to me from head to foot. My body core superheated, and I became incredibly hot -- which only heightens the feeling of claustrophobia. I felt overwhelming helplessness because my hands and feet were bound. I couldn't get out on my own if I wanted to. I looked at my wife and said, "I don't know if I can do this."

Your wife, too, suffers from claustrophobia ...

When she walked into the trailer and saw me [in my Thing costume] for the first time, she nearly fainted. My wife had a hide-and go-seek trauma as a kid. She was locked in a footlocker with her knees pressed to her chest. The other children forgot that she was in the game and left her there. Wearing the costume, I really viscerally understood what my wife goes through.

Was this a new feeling for you?

Yes! I have always been a person to take up challenges and overcome adversity, and have never been one to let my fears dictate my actions.

So how did you face "the costume" every day at work?

I talked to a psychologist briefly on the phone. She gave me some ideas to help me stay in the moment, because thinking of being in that costume for 12 hours only heightened the feeling of panic. My mantra was: "I can hear. I can breathe. I can think. I can feel. I am OK." I repeated it over and over again. Once I was in the costume and started moving around, and I felt that had my senses, it became manageable. It was like, "Hey, I am all right." And then I was fine.

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