Michael Gladis is known for his role as the Chief on Adult Swim’s “Eagleheart”. The show was a hit in season one and already got renewed for a second season. Movie mikes had a chance to chat with Michael about his role and his upcoming projects.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you got involved with “Eagleheart”?
Michael Gladis: I was given the appointment for the audition and turned it down at first because the character description was for an “Orson Welles type in his late 50′-60′s”. Now, I’m an Orson Welles type, but definitely can’t play that old. My agent told me that the producers were really excited about talking to me about it, and urged me to meet with them, so I did- very last minute. The “meeting” turned into a sort of impromptu test- with the room filling up with not only the writers and directors but also other brass from the production company/producer types, etc. So I read the scenes, totally cold, and they laughed, which was nice- but we only talked a little bit about how this dude was supposed to be older, and in a position of authority, and how I was a baby-faced early 30′s actor. So, a couple days later I get the offer for the role- which was awesome, but I still didn’t buy me as Chief- I still felt like I was WAY too young for the role. So I asked for another meeting with the writers/producers, and this time we really got to talk. They’re all great guys- really down to earth and friendly and funny- and that’s where I pitched the idea of the prosthetics and fat suit- I figured, if we were going to send up Welles, let’s really do what he would have done- age me like he aged himself in Citizen Kane- which thankfully they were happy to indulge. So I took the role.
MG: How did you come up with your character of the Chief? Did you base him off anyone?
MG: Well, obviously a lot of the foundation for Chief is Orson Welles. Both in writing and appearance. Visually we were going after a “Touch of Evil” Welles, and I think we did a great job. In terms of performance, though, Chief kind of took on a life/character of his own, and deviated from an Orson Welles impression to become something else entirely- he’s a character I really, really enjoyed playing.
MG: Tell us about the makeup process for the character?
MG: 2 1/2 to 3 hours sitting in a chair watching a make-up artist reproduce a sculpture on your face with prosthetics glue, 17 different colors of paint applied with brushes, sponges, and an airbrush gun- just so we can tear it all off and throw it out at the end of the day. I have a very simple mind, so I’m always fascinated by the process, and I have such a respect for the make-up artists that do the work. It’s also turned into a way to get into character. I sit down as Michael, and get out of the chair as Chief.
MG: Are you shocked that “Eagleheart” is already greenlit for a second season?
MG: “Shocked” isn’t the word I’d use. “Elated” is a good word for it. I’ve only received really positive feedback so far- even my parents and their friends think it’s funny- which is a far cry from our intended demographic of college students ripping bong hits every time a gun is fired on-screen (if that’s not a game that’s played to our show in every university across this great land, it should be)- and I don’t think my parents or their friends are ripping any bong hits, so if they think it’s funny, the show should definitely be renewed.
MG: Do you think we will be seeing more of the Chief?
MG: I truly hope so.
MG: Do you have preference working in comedy or drama TV series?
MG: I love working in both- as long as they’re good. I was totally sold on doing Eagleheart when I heard that Chris Eliot was on board. I’ve been a fan of his since I was a kid, and working with him is so much fun. He’s amazing, as are Brett Gelman and Maria Thayer- they’re all so funny and such wonderful people, going work is really a joy- we laugh a lot.
MG: Tell us about working with Clint Eastwood on “J. Edgar”?
MG: Well, my role is a very small one- blink and you’ll miss it- but I’d be an extra in a Clint Eastwood movie. He’s really one of my Hollywood heroes. So I jumped at the chance to do it. I was warned that Clint moves very, very fast, and that I’d only get one or two takes- and that I’d probably only be on set for 45 minutes if I only had one line. I did, indeed, only get a couple takes, which was fine, but because I was playing the owner of the club where the day’s scenes took place, I actually had to hang out for about 9 hours to be in the background (see? be careful what you wish for)- but that turned out to be great, because I got to watch Clint work all day.
MG: Tell us about working with Joe Lynch on his new film, “Knights of Badassdom”?
MG: Joe’s awesome. Such a nice guy. Very positive- very supportive- and I think “Knights of Badassdom” is gonna be a kick-ass film. I can’t wait to see it.