William Fichtner is used to playing the bad guy -- and he wouldn't have it other way. Moviegoers will be seeing a lot of the veteran character actor this summer through his turns in "The Lone Ranger" and "Elysium," but he'll also be on the small screen, lighting it up as Carl Hickman in NBC's new global crime-drama, "Crossing Lines."
The series, which also stars Donald Sutherland ("The Hunger Games") and Marc Lavoine ("The Good Thief"), and is created and executive-produced by Edward Allen Bernero ("Criminal Minds"), follows a specialized unit of elite cops who investigates cross-border crimes and brings down the most notorious international criminals.
HuffPost TV spoke with Fichtner over the phone and not only were we able to gush about his turn as William Mahone on "Prison Break," but he also revealed how he managed to line up a certain Canadian "Sons of Anarchy" star for a integral part in his own series.
HuffPost TV: You've got quite a few big things coming up: this series, "Elysium," "The Lone Ranger," you're filming "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Congratulations. That's a lot to be pleased with.
William Fichtner: It's good. It's all good. Not only a bunch of things coming but they're all great experiences and really different characters and all the stuff I, quite honestly, really love to do.
What are you doing in "Ninja Turtles"?
I play Shredder. It is cool. It's one of those things that came along where I thought, "Really? Let me think about this for a minute." [Laughs] Then I was like, "Yeah, OK, this sounds like a journey." I'm very glad that it worked out, I'm really glad that I'm doing it.
NBC describes your "Crossing Lines" character, Carl Hickman, as a wounded New York cop, pulled from the edge by a group of unlikely saviours. Is that accurate?
Yeah, that's not bad. I'd probably change a few words in there, but that's not bad. It's the beginning of a new kind of policing, similar to what the FBI was decades ago in America when, all of a sudden, they needed some kind of police force that could cross state lines. The idea behind "Crossing Lines" is to do something similar towards the new EU, the European Union. That's the roots of what "Crossing Lines" is and where it began. And while [countries like] France and Ireland and Germany and Italy are forming this group, the French gentleman, played by actor Marc Lavoine, you discover in the story and as the season unravels, what he's looking for.
He knew of an old friend who is now living in Amsterdam that has fallen on hard times, who's my character, Carl Hickman, a gentleman who is forcibly retired due to an injury with the NYPD. But also, too, Louis (Lavoine's character) also knows Hickman is about as good as it gets and pulls him back into the work. What we realize as the season goes on is there is more than one place for Hickman. That's what I loved about it from the beginning. The first two episodes that I read last year is when I decided to do the show. And I do think that the show, like any new show, takes time to find its way. And I think we really started to find it and in a very short arc, the 10 episodes we did in the first season, I feel like where we started off, was very good, and where we ended was extremely good. I was really pleased with it. Really pleased.
Ten episodes. Does that make it a miniseries? Is there closure, or is there potential for more seasons?
Well, I gotta tell you something. I don't know what the plans are for everybody, but I certainly would do it again. Let's see what happens.
If you're not working on 50 blockbuster movies.
You know what, it's the sort of thing where I made a commitment to this project. I would do this for the first season. It's a big thing, it's not like working somewhere else, like a weekend job, the family visits or I go home. Which is basically what I did for "The Lone Ranger" for seven months. I'd work a couple weeks then I had a couple off and go home. This was living in Prague with my wife and my kids. It was great. As much as I enjoy the work, I equally enjoy, maybe a little bit more, the personal journey that we took as a family, which was great. I'll bet that this part of my life isn't over.
Is this going to be like a crime-drama procedural-type show or will we see their personal and professional lives intersecting?
[Groans] God, if it ends up being a procedural show ... I think we've established from Season 1 that, sure, we're cops, there's a crime, there are bad people we're going after, we're trying to solve something. But also in our first season of only 10 shows, any time you get a debut on a two-parter episode, you have the room to go deeper. I also think there are things about the characters, in particular Carl, that you continue to discover as the season goes on. There are things that he is looking for, there are things that he wants and to me, that's the most interesting.
God bless 'em, I know a lot of people love procedurals but I can't watch them. It's like Ambien. If I want to go to sleep, click on a procedural, put me right out. But I don't think that's what we have here. I think it continues on. There are through-lines throughout. The bottom line is by the time we get to episode seven and eight, I don't think people who are tuning in to the show are tuning in because of the crime of the week. They're tuning in because they want to see how the characters are reacting to the crime of the week. That's when it gets interesting. And in the first 10 episodes, which is a short season for any show, I really feel like we made strides in that direction.
Do you know who the Canadian actor Kim Coates is?
Well, Kim's my best friend. Kim and I met on "Black Hawk Down." Coates is my bro and when I went over to work on this show last year, they were telling me the arc and what it would built up to, I said to [executive producers] Ed Bernero and Rola Bauer, "Listen, who is going to play that very key part at the end of this season? I'm telling you right now, hire Kim Coates, just get him right now. And I'm telling you something, we're going to finish up this season like you're not going to believe." And you know what? They did get him. They went to L.A. and I said, "Just go meet him! You're gonna want him over here." So Coatsey came over in January last year. I think his two shows, in particular, are not only the strongest of our entire season but definitely the strongest television I've ever worked on. I'm a huge fan of Kim's, he's a dear friend but he's also an amazing actor, just one more element in the journey of "Crossing Lines" that made it better.
That's amazing. OK, it's time for me to gush. I loved you in "Invasion" -- yes, I watched it -- and "Prison Break." OK, well not right in the beginning, but I grew to love the very misunderstood Alex Mahone. Your voice, you have this great, expressive face, that, I think, allows you to easily pull off the villain bad-guy role, but instead you tend to play characters who seem bad but are really just flawed and there's more to them. Why do you think that is? Why do you get the deeper characters?
Thank you. There are not too many people that actually say that, exactly what you said, and I appreciate that because I live by that. And I don't say that lightly. I'll tell you why that is, it's because I get roles that come to me that are the bad guy in nature. Let me tell you something: the fun guy to play in "The Lone Ranger" is Butch Cavendish. Believe me, driving those horses as a gunslinger is mighty, mighty cool.
But flawed characters are fascinating. When I first looked at "Prison Break" and I read those first few episodes, that guy, trying to figure out a crime, then turns around and pops a pill? To me, I wanna know what that's about. And it's a similar thing with "Crossing Lines." Carl Hickman is not a bad guy, he's a very fractured human being but I love that thing, I love the fact that this is a life that has problems. But I do try to find that thing. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," a live-action remake from Paramount that's filmed in New York, or "The Lone Ranger," these are slightly different because they're big freakin' popcorn movies. You love the roles for what they are.
For me, for "The Lone Ranger," Butch Cavendish the gunslinger -- I'm looking for that guy. There are things that come along, I don't wear this as a badge of honour, believe me, there have been times in my life where I've been offered roles in films when I really needed the money [Laughs]. I read it and think, "I can't do it. There are no redeeming qualities whatsoever about the guy." I like to find something ... if a character cares about something, that's a real guy. You may not like that guy, but he's a real guy. There's a journey and something's going on and he's human in his own way. You may not like him, but then there are many things that I read where there are no redeeming qualities whatsoever, it's Snidely Whiplash twirling that moustache. I can't do that, I don't know what to do with that. So I really try to avoid that. I do like to find these roles that have a real journey. It might be a rough one, but it's a real one.
"Crossing Lines" two-hour premiere airs Sunday, June 23 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC and begins in its regular timeslot on Sunday, June 30 at 10 p.m. ET. It will air on CBC in the fall in Canada.
In the gritty world of the NYPD, no one’s tougher than Det. Robert Ironside (Blair Underwood, “The Event,” “In Treatment”). He’s a fearless cop who won’t stop until the guilty are brought to justice. He and his trusted, handpicked team of specialists — Virgil (Pablo Schreiber, “The Wire” “Lights Out”), Holly (Spencer Grammer, “Greek,” “As the World Turns”) and Teddy (Neal Bledsoe, “Smash,” “Ugly Betty”), as well as his former partner Gary (Brent Sexton, “The Killing”) and boss, Det. Ed Rollins (Kenneth Choi, “Sons of Anarchy”) — will do whatever it takes to solve New York’s most difficult and notorious crimes. As a detective, Ironside’s instincts are second to none, and those around him have to stay on their toes if they want to keep up because when his spine was shattered by a bullet two years ago, Ironside swore he’d never let a wheelchair slow him down.
"The Michael J. Fox Show"
Look who’s making the news again. One of New York’s most beloved news anchors, Mike Henry (Michael J. Fox, “Spin City,” “Family Ties”), put his career on hold to spend more time with his family and focus on his health after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. But five years later, with the kids busy growing up and Mike growing restless, it just might be time for him to get back to work. Having never wanted Mike to leave in the first place, his old boss Harris Green (Wendell Pierce, “The Wire,” “Treme”) jumped at the chance to get him back on TV. The trick, as it’s always been, was to make Mike think it was his idea. Now the plan is in motion and Mike will be back to juggling home, family, and career — just like the old days, but only better.
"The Michael J. Fox Show"
"The Michael J. Fox Show"
"The Michael J. Fox Show"
"Sean Saves the Word"
Sean (Sean P. Hayes, “Will & Grace”) is a divorced gay dad who juggles a lot — his successful but demanding career, offbeat employees, pushy mom Lorna (Linda Lavin, “Alice”) and weekends with his teenage daughter, Ellie (Sami Isler). So when she moves in full-time, it’s a whole new world. Never one to do anything halfway, Sean’s intent on being the best dad ever, so he loads up on parenting how-to books and plans Pinterest-worthy family dinners. But it seems his company’s new owner has decided Sean and his team should work longer hours, putting a damper on his homemaking plans and throwing a kink in Sean’s perfectly constructed work/life balance. Ellie sees this development as a plus. She loves her dad, but he’s clearly going overboard. From keeping his boss happy, employees motivated and enduring his mother’s tactless “advice” to raising a smart, grounded and healthy kid, it’s going to be a growing experience, to say the least. But if anyone can handle it all, it’s Sean. Thomas Lennon (“Reno 911”), Lindsay Sloane (“Weeds”) and Echo Kellum (“Ben and Kate”) also star.
"Sean Saves The World"
"Sean Saves The World"
"Sean Saves The World"
For decades, ex-government agent Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader, “The Office,” “Boston Legal”) has been one of the FBI’s Most Wanted fugitives. Brokering shadowy deals for criminals across the globe, Red was known by many as “The Concierge of Crime.” Now, he’s mysteriously surrendered to the FBI with an explosive offer: He will help catch a long-thought-dead terrorist, Ranko Zamani, under the condition that he speaks only to Elizabeth “Liz” Keen (Megan Boone, “Law & Order: Los Angeles”), an FBI profiler fresh out of Quantico. For Liz, it’s going to be one hell of a first day on the job. What follows is a twisting series of events as the race to stop a terrorist begins. What are Red’s true intentions? Why has he chosen Liz, a woman with whom he seemingly has no connection? Does Liz have secrets of her own? Zamani is only the first of many on a list that Red has compiled over the years: a “blacklist” of politicians, mobsters, spies and international terrorists. He will help catch them all… with the caveat that Liz continues to work as his partner. Red will teach Liz to think like a criminal and “see the bigger picture”… whether she wants to or not. “The Blacklist” also stars are Diego Klattenhoff (“Homeland”), Harry Lennix (“Man of Steel”), Ryan Eggold (“90210”) and Ilfenesh Hadera (“Da Brick”).
Golden Globe winner Jonathan Rhys Meyers (“The Tudors”) stars in this provocative new drama as one of the world’s most iconic characters. It’s the late 19th century and the mysterious Dracula (Rhys Meyers) has arrived in London, posing as an American entrepreneur who wants to bring modern science to Victorian society. He’s especially interested in the new technology of electricity, which promises to brighten the night — useful for someone who avoids the sun. But he has another reason for his travels: He hopes to take revenge on those who cursed him with immortality centuries earlier. Everything seems to be going according to plan… until he becomes infatuated with a woman who appears to be a reincarnation of his dead wife. Victoria Smurfit (“About a Boy”), Thomas Kretschmann (“King Kong”), Jessica De Gouw (“Arrow”), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (“Mr. Selfridge”), Nonso Anozie (“Game of Thrones”) and Katie McGrath (“Merlin”) also star.
"Welcome to the Family"
Parents Dan Yoder (Mike O’Malley, “Glee,” “My Name Is Earl”) and wife Karina (Mary McCormack, “In Plain Sight,” “The West Wing”) find out on the day their daughter Molly (Ella Rae Peck (“Deception,” “Gossip Girl”) is graduating from high school with an acceptance to college, she announces she pregnant. Across town in East L.A., Junior Hernandez (Joseph Haro, “Glee,” “Awkward”), in the middle of his high school valedictorian speech, gets a text from girlfriend Molly that he’s going to be a daddy. Expectedly, Junior’s parents Miguel (Ricardo Chavira, “Desperate Housewives”) and Lisette (Justina Machado, “Six Feet Under,” “ER”) are also upset, as they now have Caucasians in the family. What follows is a crash course in culture blending as Molly and Junior decide they want to get married and, in doing so, bring together two very different families. The dads have the most difficult time reconciling while the moms take a softer approach to get to know one another. When the parents fully realize that their kids are serious about making a life together, the adults exhale and begin to come to terms with this new blended family and start to understand it will take, humor, love and tolerance to make it all work.
"Welcome to the Family"
"Welcome to the Family"
"Welcome to the Family"
When confident slacker Danny Beeman (Chris D’Elia, “Whitney,” “Glory Daze”) takes Justin (comedian Brent Morin) on as a roommate, Danny unwittingly inherits Justin’s group of romantically challenged friends. Seeing himself as the ultimate player, Danny decides to teach the crew (who he dubs “The Undateables”) everything he knows about “the game of love.” For their first lesson, Danny takes the guys to an event hosted by his sister, Leslie (Bianca Kajlich, “Rules of Engagement”), who is a single mom with dating difficulties of her own. At first, Danny’s advice seems to pay off big-time: The shy guy talks to a girl, the no-filter dude learns it’s never OK to ask a woman when she’s due, and his nebbish roommate, Justin, goes home with a mystery woman. It’s not until the next day that they figure out it was Leslie. Here’s a refreshing comedy about the “do’s,” “don’ts” and “duhs” of dating.
It’s field trip day for the students of Ballard High School, a place that educates the children of Washington, D.C.’s elite, top-of-their-industry CEOs, international diplomats, political power players and even the president’s son. But when their bus is ambushed on a secluded rural road, the teenagers and their chaperones are taken, igniting a national crisis. Now with some of the country’s most powerful parents at the mercy of one vengeful mastermind, the question arises: How far would you go and what would you become to ensure your child’s safe return? With so many parents and dignitaries put into play with nowhere to turn and no one to trust, this unthinkable scenario grows from the select families at risk to an entire nation at stake.
Levitation, telekinesis, the ability to control nature and even predict the future… Since she was 2 years old, Bo (Johnny Sequoyah) has had gifts she could neither fully understand, nor control. Raised by a small group known as the “True Believers,” the orphaned girl has been safeguarded from harmful outsiders who would use her forces for personal gain. But now that she is 10, her powers have become stronger and the threat has grown more dangerous. With her life and future now in jeopardy, the “Believers” turn to the only person they see fit to be her full-time protector. That is, once they break him out of jail. Tate (Jake McLaughlin), a wrongfully imprisoned death row inmate who’s lost his will, is initially reluctant until he witnesses one of her extraordinary abilities. Bo sees people for who they truly are… and who they may become. Tate and Bo begin their journey, one in which trust must be earned. Traveling from city to city, every place they stop and everyone they meet will be changed forever. But they’ll have to keep going to stay one step ahead of the sinister forces after Bo’s power… because it will take a miracle to keep them safe forever. “Believe” also stars Delroy Lindo and Kyle MacLachlan.
"The Family Guide"
It’s not every family that’s brought closer together by divorce, but then again, the Fishers aren’t exactly typical. Take Mel Fisher (J.K. Simmons, “The Closer,” “Law & Order”), for example. Whether it’s chopping down trees, showing his daughter how to drive or playing football with his son, he’s never let the fact that he’s blind slow him down. Then there’s Joyce Fisher (Parker Posey, “Louie,” “For Your Consideration”), possibly the only mom in Pasadena to smoke a pipe. For her, divorce is like a second coming of age, a chance to be the teen she never was. Just ask ‘80s-obsessed teenage daughter Katie (Ava Deluca-Verley, “Southland”), whose clothes Joyce is always borrowing. At the center of all this is Henry (Eli Baker), the Fisher’s 11-year old son. Having always been his dad’s eyes, ears and wingman, Henry’s less than thrilled when Mel shows up with Elvis, a guide dog… which is also how Henry learns about the pending divorce. While reluctant to the changes this dog would bring, it’s through the adult Henry’s voice-over (Jason Bateman, “Arrested Development”) that we find out his parent’s split would “allow all of us to finally discover who we needed to be.”
"About A Boy"
Based on the best-selling Nick Hornby (“High Fidelity,” “An Education”) novel, writer Jason Katims (“Friday Night Lights,” “Parenthood”) and director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “Revolution”) present a different kind of coming-of-age story. Will Freeman (David Walton, “Bent,” “Perfect Couples”) lives a charmed existence as the ultimate man-child. After writing a hit song, he was granted a life of free time, free love and freedom from financial woes. He’s single, unemployed and loving it. So imagine his surprise when Fiona (Minnie Driver, “Good Will Hunting,” “Barney’s Version”), a needy single mom and her oddly charming 11-year-old son, Marcus (Benjamin Stockham, “1600 Penn”), move in next door and disrupt his perfect world. When Marcus begins dropping by his home unannounced, Will’s not so sure about being a kid’s new best friend, until, of course, Will discovers that women find single dads irresistible. That changes everything and a deal is struck: Marcus will pretend to be Will’s son and, in return, Marcus is allowed to chill at Will’s house. Before he realizes it, Will starts to enjoy the visits and even finds himself looking out for the kid. In fact, this newfound friendship may very well teach him a thing or two that he never imagined possible — about himself and caring for others.
District 21 of the Chicago Police Department is made up of two distinctly different groups: The uniformed cops who patrol the beat and deal with street crimes, and the intelligence unit, the team that combats the city’s major offenses, such as organized crime, drug trafficking and high-profile murders. Leading the intelligence team is Sgt. Hank Voight (Jason Beghe), a man not against skirting the law in the pursuit of justice. Demanding and tough, only those who can take the heat survive under Voight’s command. Take Det. Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda), for example. Despite a troubled history with his boss, Dawson has ambitions of running the unit. If that means facing off against Voight every day, he’ll persevere. From the street cops with dreams of moving up to the elite crew who are already in, “life on the job” is a daily challenge.
"The Night Shift"
Welcome to the night shift, where every day is a fight between the heroic efforts of saving lives and the hard truths of running a hospital. At San Antonio Memorial, the men and women who work the wee hours are a special breed, particularly adrenaline junkie T.C. Callahan (Eoin Macken, “Merlin”). After a grueling tour of duty in the Middle East, T.C. is about to learn that his toughest battles will be fought right at home. He and his irreverent team of late-night docs, including Topher (Ken Leung, “Lost”) and Drew (Brendan Fehr, “Roswell”), know how to let off steam with the casual prank or two, but when lives are at stake they are all business. Unfortunately, the night shift is now under new management and boss Michael Ragosa (Freddy Rodriguez, “Six Feet Under”) is more interested in cutting costs than helping people. But T.C. has never met a rule he couldn’t break, or a person he won’t stand up to. And it’s clear that not even his ex-girlfriend (Jill Flint, “The Good Wife”) who is a doctor and now Ragosa’s second in charge, has a chance at keeping him in line. If Ragosa wants a war, he’ll get one.