FIVE QUESTIONS WITH MARC GUGGENHEIM
These are high-flying days for writer Marc Guggenheim — he’s an executive producer on “No Ordinary Family,” which has just finished filming its pilot for ABC (and stars Michael Chiklis, shown in photo below), and his script will take Green Lantern onto the silver screen in the Martin Campbell-directed movie now being filmed in New Orleans. Guggenheim, whose name is well-known to comics fans, also wrote the script for the video game based on “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and has held the executive producer post on shows such as “FlashForward” and “Eli Stone.”
GB: For the TV show, tell me a bit about the concept and cast and also how you came to be such a key figure on a show with characters you didn’t create?
MG: It’s basically your typical family drama with the one atypical addition that the people in the family have superpowers. Greg Berlanti and Jon Feldman created the show and they did a really amazing job with the characters and the script. They’re both very active in the production of the pilot, but they also have other things on their plate — for example, this is only one of two pilots that Jon is producing this year — so the studio asked me to come in and help out where I can. Because the concept is so strong and Greg and Jon are such great guys, it was a no-brainer for me. We’ve cast Michael Chiklis, Julie Benz, Romany Malco and a whole bunch of really talented actors. David Semel, who directed the pilot for “Heroes,” among many other things, is our director and he’s doing an incredible job.
GB: We’ve seen a number of superhero families on film in recent years with “The Incredibles,” two “Fantastic Four” films and things like”Sky High.” What can you say about this family and the tone of the show?
MG: If you’ve watched any of the other shows that Greg and Jon have produced, you’ll have a pretty good sense of what the tone of this show is. It’s got that mix of drama and humor that their — and, my, for that matter — writing always has.
GB: Michael Chiklis played The Thing memorably — he was the best part of the “F.F.” movies, really — and he’s shown himself to be a real foundation-solid actor on two very different shows, “The Shield” and “The Commish.” What’s it been like building the show around him, and which Chiklis can we expect?
MG: I’ve joked to Chiklis that this role is a bit like his “greatest hits.” There are elements of all the various characters he’s played over the years, but combined in a package we’ve never seen from him before. What’s great about Michael as an actor is that you feel like you can write anything for him; there’s nothing he can’t do. On the set, I’m constantly amazed by how much he can convey with just a look. That’s really the difference between an “actor” and someone who is truly “a star.”
GB: Superpowers and the visual-effect presentation are at the very center of any superhero saga. Can you say a bit about the types of powers presented in the show and the way they will be presented? Is it a “big” show, effects-wise?
MG: The visual effects in the show are very ambitious, particularly for a television show. We’ve taken great pains to represent the powers on the show in a way that you’ve never seen before — either on TV or in features. It’s taken a lot of creativity and invention on the part of a lot of people and even the preliminary tests that have been done thus far are extremely exciting to watch.
GB: I know you can’t talk too much about Green Lantern at this point, but in broad strokes, what can you say about the tone of the film? Also, Sinestro is a fascinating figure in the mythology — how excited are you about the Mark Strong casting and what should we expect from the character in this first film?
MG: Honestly, I can only speak for the tone of the script because the tone of the film is really the province of the director and they’ve only just started production. However, our goal from the outset was to write a movie that was extremely faithful to the comic book and that includes the tone. In other words, it’s not broadly comedic or silly. Nor is it overly dark. It’s very much in keeping with the spirit of the character.
– Geoff Boucher
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Photos: Top, Michael Chiklis in 2006 (Beatrice de Gea/Los Angeles Times). Bottom, Green Lantern as drawn by Alex Ross (DC Comics)