(CBSLOCAL)- Today CBS All Access premiered the brand new series, Coyote, starring Michael Chiklis. Coyote details the lives of the men and women working at the U.S. border and was created by Michelle MacLaren (Game Of Thrones, Breaking Bad) and David Graziano (Southland, Jack Ryan).
CBS’ Matt Weiss spoke to Chiklis about working with MacLaren and Graziano, how COVID impacted production and what fans can expect from season one.
MW: Michael, nice to see you, especially today now that we have season one of Coyote out there. What attracted you to the project in the first place? What really made you want to be involved?
MC: Well, my dear old friend Michelle MacLaren and I wanted to work together for the better part of 30 years. She’s been busy with shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad. I’ve been busy with The Shield and other shows too. We just never had the material, the thing, the project. She called me about two and a half years ago and she said, hey I’ve got this this thing and I think this is what we’re going to do together.
We had dinner and she gave me this script and I read it. I was like, well this is pretty relevant. We were off and then were lucky enough to add David Graziano as our showrunner to it. We developed the script from there and here we are. I’m just always attracted to roles that are complex, that deal with shades of gray, that operate on multiple levels. Whenever you can find something like that tell stories from a human level but also are operating on several other levels that’s really something. That’s exciting. We can do something special.
MW: Not to say that Coyote is the same kind of show as these others, but when you can bring people who are involved with Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and The Shield together it’s not too shabby. Like a little all-star team you’ve put together.
MC: Right. Exactly. Look, everything starts on the page. You learn this early on in your career, that if you want to have any hope for success in your career, you’re looking for the best material that you can find first and foremost. Then the next question is who’s doing it because you can have great material and it can get destroyed. This is one of those rare situations where everything’s right there. Phenomenal material and you look left and right of this just incredible film makers sort of pulling the oars in the same direction, if you will. We’re all like-minded and really committed to this and this has been one of the best working experiences of my career thus far. It was really, really thrilling and I can’t wait to get back to it.
We were waylaid, we were in show seven of ten. We were only able to deliver six complete episodes for the first season because of COVID. This is an abridged season that the audience is getting, but hopefully we’ll be able to get right back to work soon and deliver many more episodes of this because it represents an odyssey.
This is about a collision of cultures and this is happening all over the world. There are cultural collisions occurring in countries all over this planet. It’s a timely thematic set of questions that we delve into. I’m proud to say we take the politics out of it and we deal with the storytelling at a human level. We let you decide as an audience what you think, but hopefully at first and foremost we entertain you with it. That’s really where we’re coming from. We wanted to tell really compelling human stories about a very relevant set of themes.
We wanted it to feel and look authentic, so we went to Mexico and we shot all over Baja, California. I mean it’s extraordinary. There’s a sequence where we’re four days at the border of the United States and Mexico and the cooperation between the two countries in allowing us to lock up four or six lanes of the border at San Ysidro is extraordinary. This has been an incredible experience. I can’t wait for people to take this journey with us.
MW: There’s a lot of very important subject matter but the show really focuses more on human stories. The conflicts and everything at the border is more of the vehicle to get there, is that right?
MC: Right. The first six episodes are kind of like a jumping off point for what’s to come. It’s exciting, thrilling, and complex. This is tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more that we want to say and do. We really want to take a deep dive into this cultural collision if you will.
MW: I mentioned earlier, the entire season is available now on CBS All Access. Is this your first time doing a show like this where the entire season comes out in one shot?
MC: Yeah, actually I love it because I’m a binger. My wife and I and my children we’ve just been, especially during COVID, we’ve just been bingeing one show after another. It’s really nice to have it ala carte. It’s beautiful to choose a show and then be able to watch it very much like a movie, see two or three hours at a time, then just sort of eat it up.
With this it’s six episodes, so people will devour this pretty quickly. Hopefully, we can get back out there shooting again soon once this pandemic is finally behind us. It’s been a long time coming and we were pulled on March 13th or something like that. Then we had to do the post-production through the summer remotely. That was a very slow, arduous process to do post-production on this show via computer. We did it and we’re thrilled with the result. Now it’s been all this time and we can’t wait for people to see and to respond to what we’ve been doing.
MW: Both formats have their pros and cons, but when everything gets released at once you can really dive deep into it. When you’re watching episode three and a callback from episode one comes up, you don’t have to think back weeks, it’s just hours…
MC: It’s like a visual novel isn’t it? You’ll be able to just immerse in this world and get a look at this in a way that if you’re a person that just is going about your life and you see the way you see this situation is highly politicized. What’s wonderful about television and film and art in general is that were able to delve into all the nuances of any given topic.
Frankly, everything is so politicized right now that all the nuances have been removed from our political discourse. Everything is either this or that, you’re for or you’re against. That’s just not the way life is. It’s filled with ambiguity and ambivalence. I think people don’t want to be told what to think or how to respond. We’re just telling you human stories at a human level and you hopefully will be entertained; then discuss amongst yourselves.
MW: Right, three sides to every story. There’s side A side B and the truth somewhere in the middle.
MC: That’s right.
MW: Last question before I let you go here, for anyone about to dive into Coyote, what can they look forward to?
MC: Well, it’s a thriller and it’s got a good amount of action and suspense and human drama. It comes to you from people like Michelle McLaren who like I mentioned has been making shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones and myself with shows like The Shield. If you are a fan of either one of those shows you probably gonna respond to this. It couldn’t be more different than both of those shows but there’s crossover in tone and tenor and authenticity, that’s what they share. In terms of subject in place and character entirely different.
MW: Awesome. Thank you so much Michael it’s been awesome to talk to you and all the best with the show moving forward!
MC: Thanks for having me.
Coyote season one is available now, in its entirety, on CBS All Access.