Michael Chiklis was born into a Greek American family on August 30, 1963 in Lowell, Massachusetts. He showed an early love for acting, acquiring his Actor's Equity card at the age of 13. Raised in Andover, he attended the Boston University School of Performing Arts, where he received his BFA.
Like most actors, Chiklis struggled for a breakthrough in the first years of his career. He thought his big break had come when he was cast, at age 24, as John Belushi in the feature film Wired (1989). While the role garnered him much attention, much of the attention wasn't good. Many people in the entertainment community resented the film's portrayal of Belushi, and Chiklis had a hard time getting auditions or even phone calls returned for some period after its release.
Eventually, Chiklis found episodic work on television. His leading role in the popular television series, The Commish (1991-1995), proved to be a mixed blessing. While the run was excellent, the relatively young actor afterward found himself typecast as a balding, middle aged and overweight "character". This frustrated Chiklis who felt he had more range than available in parts he was being offered. He starred in the brief lived Daddio (playing a balding, middle aged and overweight "character"), and then, after that quick run, determined to make major changes in his life.
The transformation: Chiklis shaved his head, lost 50 pounds, and spent 2 to 3 hours a day in the gym bulking up (for six months). Chiklis now looked little like the friendly Commish or stay-at-home Daddio, and whole lot like the rogue cop he was about to come.
Transformation lead to breakthrough, when Chiklis happened to meet Shawn Ryan who was developing a series called The Shield for the fledgling FX network. Chiklis was cast as the (now) iconic Vic Mackey, but only after higher ups at FX could be convinced he wasn't really the Commish.
It did not take long for the The Shield to become a groundbreaking hit, and Michael Chiklis to be recognized as a significant actor of his time.
In addition to television work, Chiklis has also appeared on Broadway and feature film - most notably, his turn as The Thing in The Fantastic Four (2005).