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.
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
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 there any upside to this experience?
Totally. Not that I was insensitive to my wife before, but now I really get
it. I am a grounded person and not prone to fears or anxiety. This was a good
experience, because I became more sensitive to people who suffer from that
malady. Claustrophobia really is an out-of-body experience. It was a triumph,
because it was the only job where I felt, I can't do this. And I did it.
There is nothing like that feeling.
So did you wear the same suit for the new sequel?
No. The new costume is vastly more comfortable. The suit only took an hour
and 20 minutes, not five hours, to get into. And Team Thing could take the suit
off me in five minutes. That's a huge thing, psychologically.