Michael Chiklis on How Border-Patrol Drama ‘Coyote’ Has Changed Some of His Political Views

TCA 2020: “Everything in life is a learning experience and until you’re exposed to things, you have no idea,” “The Shield” alum says

Michael Chiklis
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Michael Chiklis stars on Paramount Network’s upcoming border-patrol drama “Coyote,” as Ben Clemens, who, after 32 years as a border patrol agent, is forced to work for the very people he spent his career trying to keep out of America. This exposure to life “on the other side of the wall” makes Ben start to question his views about the world. 

Chiklis says the show — which also stars Juan Pablo Raba and Adriana Paz — itself is “not taking any positions” and instead telling stories that will “hopefully” make people who have “galvanized their positions” start to look at things differently. And it’s actually prompted him to rethink the way he sees the world, too.

“It’s really, really rare that you get to play a person who sees the world in a particular way and really changes and is truly, deeply challenged by his circumstances,” “The Shield” alum said during a panel for the series at the Television Critics Association press tour Tuesday. “This has been not only that kind of experience for my character but myself, seeing things and learning things that I had no idea are happening. Look, this is a highly politicized subject and we’re bringing a human face to it. This is about humanity and great storytelling and about nuance. This isn’t about this side or that side and about politics, this is about people.”

Chiklis, who also executive produces the drama, says he has realized “little nuanced things” about himself while shooting the show, which is written by David Graziano and directed by Michelle MacLaren.

“And it’s no one’s fault,” he said. “We’re grown up where we’re grown up, we know what we know. People have to understand that you can’t be upset with yourself for not knowing it, you know? Everything in life is a learning experience and until you’re exposed to things, you have no idea. And you could chastise yourself over that or you could learn and grow and go, ‘Hey, I had no clue what was happening here.’

“I think that first and foremost, we’re here to entertain,” Chiklis continued. “And I’m hoping that when you watch an episode of ‘Coyote,’ that first and foremost, that you’re entertained. But then if we can make you think and feel and create a discussion, we’re not gonna prosthelytize, we’re not gonna preach it to you, we’re just gonna tell stories and have all different kinds of points of view.”

When asked about how his political positions, in particular, may have changed while working on “Coyote,” Chiklis said this: “This is an evolving situation, this is something that I’m swept up in right now and it’s hard to even say. We’ve been there six, eight weeks and it’s been a whirlwind experience. We’ve been traveling all over California and shooting in these incredible locations. It’s an incredibly cinematic show… And really, it’s this deep dive into this world. And I don’t know the answer to that yet.”

No premiere date has been set for “Coyote.”