Interview with Michael Chiklis, Marlee Matlin and Billy Porter

TV Interview!

"Accused" on FOX key art

Interview with Michael Chiklis, Marlee Matlin and Billy Porter and others of “Accused” on FOX by Suzanne 12/14/22

This is a new anthology drama on FOX, and I think it’s pretty good. We saw a few episodes. The first one stars Michael Chiklis as a father who’s worried about his violent son; Jill Hennessy plays his mother. Another one has a deaf woman who’s surrogate for a couple with issues; Marlee Martlin directed that one. One has Billy Porter as a drag performer who gets involved with a married man.  Another has Malcolm Jamal Warner as a father whose young daughter is molested. They’re powerful stories about people accused of a crime, and we see them waiting before their trial. It’s an interesting concept.


 Howard Gordon (Executive Producer/Showrunner)

 Michael Chiklis (Actor “Scott’s Story” and Director “Jack’s Story”)

 Marlee Matlin (Director, “Ava’s Story,” with Interpreter Jack Jason)

 Tazbah Chavez (Director and Co-Writer, “Nataani’s Story”)

 Billy Porter (Director, “Robyn’s Story”)

 Michael Thorn (President, Scripted Programming, FOX Entertainment)

Virtual via Zoom December 14, 2022

© 2022 FOX Media LLC.  All rights reserved.

JEAN GUERIN:  Good morning.  Happy Holidays and welcome to FOX Entertainment’s 2022 Winter Press Day.  Now, before we begin today’s panels, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the past as we look to the future.

At FOX Entertainment, we’ve spent the last three years building a strong portfolio of businesses and content engines, including Bento Box, TMZ, MarVista, Studio Ramsey Global, Blockchain Creative Labs, FOX Alternative Entertainment, FOX Entertainment Studios, and most recently our international sales and distribution unit FOX Entertainment Global.

And now with that foundation in place, we’re maximizing those assets, creating world‑class content to fill each studio’s production pipeline development slate, and growing library of content.

Recently, we’ve welcomed some of the industry’s great storytellers into the fold, signing broadcast direct deals with talents such as: McG, Marc Cherry, Carol Mendelsohn, and just this morning we added to the impressive roster Academy Award‑winner Rodney Rothman, whose film “Spider‑Man: Into the Spider‑Verse” won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

And this on top of an incredible bench of creators and storytellers already set to debut their work on FOX, including Howard Gordon, Alex Gansa and David Shore, Jamie Foxx and John Eisendrath, Dan Harmon and Jon Hamm, just to name a few.

As you know, we are also busy preparing for and promoting our midseason lineup, featuring our first FOX-owned comedy Animal Control starring Joel McHale.  Season 2 of Gordon Ramsay’s hit competition series Next Level Chef debuting in the post‑Super Bowl time slot.  And Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test, which is getting a lot buzz as audiences get a sense of the courage of our cast and their stories of survival, guts and glory.

And, of course, there’s our two thrilling dramas coming in January:  Accused and Alert, which we’re excited to focus on for today’s panels moderated by our own SVP of Corporate Communications, Les Eisner.

HOWARD GORDON:  Hi everyone.  Thank you for being here.  I’m Howard Gordon.  I’m the Executive Producer and the Showrunner of the new FOX drama Accused.

It’s a collection of 15 intense stories of crime and punishment.  Every week viewers will meet a new character in a new setting, someone who is just like any of us until that person’s life is suddenly upended by a choice they make that changes their life forever.  And rather than being passive bystanders, our viewers will be actively engaged as invisible jurors challenged to lean in and find out moment‑to‑moment what really happened.

Every episode is an unpredictable entertaining ride, but also one that challenges viewers to think a little differently and ask themselves a question more profound than innocence or guilt.  What would I have done?

Every episode of Accused explores the moral complexity of what it means to live in the world today.  But to tell these stories as authentically as possible, we actively looked for creative partners who could bring their own unique experiences to the process, both in front of and behind the camera.  And we were lucky enough to attract some real heavyweights and trailblazers.

Among our outstanding roster of directors are: Oscar winner, Marlee Matlin; Emmy and Tony Winner, Billy Porter; Emmy Winner, Michael Chiklis; and acclaimed writer and director, Tazbah Chavez.

We’re all so excited to be here today, but before we get started let’s take a look at Accused.

JEAN GUERIN:  Hello, everyone, and happy holidays.  I hope you all are well.  Let’s jump right in and get started.  I think it’s safe to assume you know the routine, but for good measure, please click the hand on the bottom of the screen to ask a question. Transcripts of our two panels today will be emailed to you by end of business today. And, lastly, recording of our sessions are not allowed.

Let’s start off with our first session, Accused.  Joining us today are directors Marlee Matlin, Tazbah Chavez, Billy Porter and Michael Chiklis, who also stars in our premiere episode on Sunday, January 22nd.  Executive Producer/Showrunner Howard Gordon, and Michael Thorn, President, Scripted Programming of FOX Entertainment.

QUESTION:  Hi, everyone.  Thanks for doing this.  Michael Chiklis, my first question ‑‑ my question is for you.  As the director of the first episode of this, normally with a series one might ask about establishing the whole format of the show, the tone of the show. In this case, though, it’s an anthology, so you don’t have linking things that go between the episodes.

MICHAEL CHIKLIS:  I’m going to have to stop you right there.  I starred in the first episode. I did not direct it.  So that would be another ‑‑

HOWARD GORDON:  Mike, I can probably answer that a little bit, and it’s a great question. And it really was, at the beginning of the series, acknowledging that it’s an anthology that has a format uniformity.  We wanted, at the same time, to give all the filmmakers and all the storytellers and the diversities of, like, locations and tones its own kind of vocabulary.  So it really was a line and finding that line between what’s kind of an esthetic rule book and set of parameters and at the same time just kind of giving the filmmakers and the storytellers the latitude to tell the story in the best way possible.

And that was Michael Cuesta, by the way, who was an old friend who directed, among other things, the pilot for Homeland.  So I hope that answers the question.

QUESTION:  Am I able to follow with a quick question for Michael Chiklis, then?


QUESTION:  Michael, as the director of your ‑‑ as the director of your episode, what was your thought process in terms of doing your own thing stylistically but also having to hold to what the entire series was meant to be?

MICHAEL CHIKLIS:  Well, I thought one of the things that was really refreshing as a director is I didn’t feel constrained.  You know, when I’ve directed episodes of, say, THE SHIELD, that was a very specific template and you had to really adhere to it.  It really ‑‑ because this is an anthology series, they’re sort of standalone featurette’s and the ‑‑ there was a huge difference in terms of tone and tenor between the pilot episode that I starred in as an actor and the episode that I directed, very, very different, tonally completely different.

So I didn’t feel constrained at all, which was wonderful and I was able to collaborate with Howard and all departments and the cast and crew to achieve a totally different feel for the show.  And that’s ‑‑ I think that’s wonderful because it says to the audience there’s going to be ‑‑ there’s this template that’s set in terms of the storytelling rules, but in terms of what you are going to see, just from what I’ve already seen, the episodes that I’ve watched that I wasn’t involved with and even some of, like — for instance, you were just talking about Billy Porter’s episode, and some of the shots that he does in that episode are phenomenal, and it’s just a completely different tone and tenor.  So I think each episode is like a standalone featurette.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.  Howard, sorry about the nuts-and-bolts question, but I’m just curious.  Did you have in mind people to direct and then hand them a script that you wanted them to direct, or did you ‑‑ did you say, “Hey, I want you to direct.  Here are my scripts. Pick one”?

And, secondly, does the anthology format make it easier ‑‑ I know you want everybody to watch every episode, but do you think the anthology format makes it easier for people to pop in and out?

HOWARD GORDON:  Well, I’ll start with that one because that’s a really ‑‑ that’s a really easy one, and the short answer is yeah.  I mean, it is ‑‑ I think it is ‑‑ an anthology episode, to me, is a perfect antidote to ‑‑ you know, I’ll quote John Landgraf ‑‑ well, although, I can’t remember what his exact quote was, but to the complete overwhelming, you know, nature of this sort of ‑‑ even the idea of – “bingeing” to me is a disgusting word, the way we consume series, and I think that this is ‑‑ we have ‑‑ there’s no meat ‑‑ there’s no fat on the bone of these stores.  It is really lean, I think, compelling storytelling that you watch kind of in any order.  And so I think as a viewing experience I think it’s going to be a promising one.

In terms of like, you know, the episodes that we assigned or developed, I mean, look, we had written ‑‑ Daniel Pearl, brilliant writer, wrote ”Robyn’s Story” — and, again, we just said who’s the fantasy director?  Billy Porter.

We said to him ‑‑ didn’t think he would say yes. He said yes.  We wrote “Ava’s Story,” Marlee ‑‑ you know, Maile Malloy.  And, of course, there’s a lot of M’s, Maile Malloy and Marlee Matlin.  Marlee has never directed, and we sent it to her. And, well, we didn’t know she had been exploring that, and lo and behold, she said yes too.  So these are like ‑‑ and so these are stories that we just sort of picked this fantasy team and we just got a lot of great RSVPs.

In the case of Tazbah, for instance, you know, I think Taz and I had met through like a Writer’s Guild speed-dating introduction thing, and at the end of it I said, “Taz, it sounds like I’ve got to send my resume to you.”

Because she was just like ‑‑ you know, it was on the ‑‑ you know, during Reservation Dogs, which if you haven’t seen, was wonderful.  And anyway, we began to talk about — when I got the series ‑‑ when Michael agreed to the series, she was among the first calls.  So she was more ground up and wrote the series ‑‑ the episode that she wound up directing, but a lot of these were very specific, you know, wishes and we got a lot of our wishes.

QUESTION:  Hi.  Quick question for Billy.  I just wanted to follow up on what Howard was saying. When you came into it, was the script locked, or did you have some input on the script? And if so, what were those contributions?  And then I have a follow-up.

BILLY PORTER:  You know, first of it all, it was such a gift for Howard to call me and sort of came out of the blue.  I directed my first feature a couple of summers ago that debuted on Amazon this year, and I’ve been directing in the theater for about 20 years, and I have wanted this expansion to happen.  So I sort of came in and the script ‑‑ and I read the script, and what I loved about the script so much is that it fit right in line with my intention as an artist and where we are as a culture.

It’s time for the people whose stories are being told to tell their own stories.  And so when I read this, it was like this a queer ‑‑ a queer sort of story, and they’re actually calling a queer person ‑‑ it’s about a black drag performer, and they’re actually calling a black queer person to direct it.  Yay.

So it was an immediate yes to me ‑‑ yes for me because what I love in this space for my life is I get to shape these narratives and control these narratives in the most authentic way possible, and that is a gift.

QUESTION:   And my quick follow-up was, as you mentioned, you’ve directed a movie, you’ve done episodes of Pose, you’ve done theatre.  Is there a particular challenge that comes with directing an episode in an anthology that is different than those other directing duties that you’ve done?

BILLY PORTER:  Well, know because, just like Michael Chiklis said, you know, my experience in directing for film and television in particular, which is – this is only my second one — is that, you know, when you’re directing a movie, it’s your own vision.  So to sort of fall in line with this anthology series, it was also ‑‑ I was also allowed to employ my own vision.  And that was nice and that was ‑‑ that was good for me.

With Pose, I was supposed to direct — and just so we’re clear, I ultimately did not get a chance to direct because COVID happened.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much for doing this.  This question is for Billy and Marlee.  I’m wondering ‑‑ you know, you’re both ‑‑ you both have an extensive resume of acting credits. You’re doing directing now.  I’m wondering, of the two, which do you find more challenging or perhaps more difficult to do?  Is it acting or it is directing?


MARLEE MATLIN:  Thank you.  Thank you, Billy.  I adore you, by the way, Billy.  I adore you.

BILLY PORTER:  Right back at you.

MARLEE MATLIN:  Anyway, muah.  As an actor, you know, clearly, for 35 years I’ve always thought, you know, when I’m developing a character, I focus on that and I do my thing.

I show up on set.  I go to makeup. I go to hair. I go into my trailer. I wait for my call.  They call me to set and that kind of thing.  It’s the long hours you spend waiting, mostly.  Now, as a director, my time passes so quickly.  I mean 12 hours has already happened?  I’m so focused on every aspect of production, you know, that takes on a set.  I have to be involved with a crew.  I have to work with the creative team.  I have to work with the cinematographers.  It’s a completely different experience, and it accesses a different and creative side of my personality at the same time.

The pleasure of mine was to be able to learn about how each and every person on the set works and how my fellow actors work.  I get a chance to watch them work as actors, as actors to actors, and I became enthralled.  It was a treat for me to be able to direct.

BILLY PORTER:  I personally, as an actor, I realized early on ‑‑ well, I knew early that I would want to direct, and I thought oh, you know, I will direct when the acting sort of becomes boring. Maybe in the twilight of my career, you know, I will begin to act ‑‑ I mean, began to direct. You know, like a Clint Eastwood kind of thing.  I thought, oh, I’ll do it then.

It never occurred to me ‑‑ you know, as a minority African American performer, when I came out in the business, there wasn’t a whole lot for me to do. So I got bored really quick.  And all a sudden, I found myself in this space of directing that sort of activated my mind, my creative mind that never stops.  So similar to Marlee, as an actor, you know, I find ‑‑ I found myself sitting around and my brain being inactive.

What I love about directing and which is also the most challenging part, is all cylinders are firing at the same time.  I have never in my life done anything harder than directing film and television.  It is so hard.  I am so exhausted at the end of every day, because just like Marlee it’s like it never stops.  And, like, you know, for me it’s like as an actor you get to focus on the one moment.

MARLEE MATLIN:  You’re on the move.  You’re constantly on the move.  You’re never stopping.

BILLY PORTER:   Right.  And it’s only you.  But when you’re directing, it’s like ‑‑ you know, I’ve had to learn ‑‑ you know, I’ll be sitting there directing a scene and somebody is asking me a question about three weeks later.  And I’m like, I don’t know.  I don’t know.  I don’t know the answer that to that. Ask me in a ‑‑ ask me on a break in three hours, you know.  I love it.  I love every single solitary second of it.

It really does bring me joy creatively in a way that instinctively I knew it would, and in the process ‑‑ and in the process of being able to do it, it really does.

MARLEE MATLIN:  You know, for me, people would warn me:  You’re going to be a director. You’re going to be asked questions all day.  All day.

I said, okay. So I’ll have to deal with that.  How am I going to prepare for that?  Okay.  You know what, this is what I’m going to do:  Yes, no, maybe, and I don’t know.  Those are the four answers I’m going to give everybody.

And that’s how I worked every day.

BILLY PORTER:  Yes.  You actually have to make a choice.  You have to actually make a choice, because when you make a choice, then you can pivot from a choice.  If people know what they’re doing, then the pivot from the choice is so much easier if it changes.

HOWARD GORDON:  I was going to say the energy you’re hearing from Marlee and from Billy and also Taz, I hope I’m not speaking out of turn, but I’m sharing the story that you mentioned, maybe you should tell it, about the opportunity for me to have this show and for it to sort of be the Trojan horse for these voices and these stories has been one of the most incredible, you know, pleasures of my ‑‑ you know, of my career.

Just to sort of ‑‑ for one thing is to just sort of shut up and listen but and also to bring to bear my knowledge of this ‑‑ of the mechanics and the dramatics of this particular series but also to just get out of the way and let other voices, you know, speak and have a chance.

And Taz mentioned to me ‑‑ there was an anecdote you mention when we were working, you said, “You know, I’ve always been the only woman in the room, or the only Indigenous woman in the room.”

But on Res Dogs, and I think on ours as well, you said that energy and freedom that comes when the people in front of the camera and behind the camera are all the same, I was so struck by that.  You were just like ‑‑ I think you said you can breathe in a way that’s very different.

TAZBAH CHAVEZ:  Yeah, absolutely.  I think that when you have ‑‑ and I think I see it come across mostly in performance when you have Indigenous actors who are being directed by a Native person. And in the case of Accused, it was incredible because we were able to cast ‑‑ three of our four leads were actually Navajo actors playing Navajo characters. And for so long, we’ve been told, you know, there aren’t Native actors. And then if you want to get Tribal-specific actors, that’s even harder. And we pulled it off.  And I thank you for — and all the team for going to the lengths to find folks.  But what that ultimately did was that created a certain comfort and energy on the set and a trust that’s, I think, hard to replicate.

It’s like we know where each other came from. We know the story we’re trying to tell.  And also, what I think I had shared with you previously, what I experienced on Reservation Dogs and also in the Accused with that is it’s also a different culture in the way a set can be run.  And I think that’s really incredible to be able to create for the Accused set, which is there’s ‑‑ that you bring your way of working and your way of community with you, and I think it creates a really fun experience that I think reads across in performance in the final product.

MARLEE MATLIN:  You know, she’s absolutely right.  The same with me in the deaf community.  The fact that we were able to cast the actors — I applauded Howard and the entire production team’s encouragement of that, knowing we were telling authentic stories and representing our community appropriately, showing our culture, showing our community.  In my particular episode, it’s just exactly as she just said.  It’s the exact same feeling for me.

MICHAEL CHIKLIS:  Can I just weigh in on the actor/director aspect of the question if I might?

LES EISNER:  Go ahead.

MICHAEL CHIKLIS:  There’s just countless examples of actors who have become directors over the course of their careers, and I honestly think it’s a natural progression.

For anybody like myself or Marlee or Billy who’ve spent many years in front of the camera, there’s ‑‑ some actors are sort of trailer actors.  They go and they sit in their trailer and they wait, or, you know, they’re sort of off set.  But I’ve never been that kind of an actor, and most actors are very curious people naturally.  So I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time on set and asking questions and making directors and photographers’ eyes roll because I was simply bothering them with questions — Why are you doing that?  What’s that do? — you know, from when I was ‑‑ when I first started as an actor.  So constantly asking questions, constantly, you know, talking to different people in different departments.

And I think one of wonderful things about being an actor and becoming a director is you become the filter where all departments filter through you and you really have a love and a respect for all departments and what they do. So ‑‑ oh, you lost me on camera but ‑‑ oh, there I am again.  But I just think that it’s a natural progression for an actor, and that’s why there’s so many examples of actors who do it well and successfully because we’re storytellers at our core.  We’re natural storytellers, and if you give me motion pictures, music, and sound and say, “Go tell a story with all of those tools” — so there you go.

QUESTION:  Tazbah, because you’re the one who’s got the ‑‑ kind of takes the story from the start, tell us about that.  What made you think of this particular story?  Is there any particular protest when you first had it in your mind?  And you ended up directing an action adventure that people didn’t have there.  So tell us how the whole thing evolved in your mind.

TAZBAH CHAVEZ:  Yeah, absolutely.  Howard and the co‑writer of the episode that I directed, I met with them and they had an idea.  You know, they had a story area written out of the story they wanted to tell, and there was environmental justice issue at the core of it, and I was so excited they wanted to tell this kind of story on the show.  And I had pitched to them an alternative environmental issue, and I chose uranium.  And the reason I chose uranium is because I saw ‑‑ my mother’s side were Navajo and my father’s side was Apache.


And there was a uranium spill in 1979 on the Navajo Nation that was the U.S.’s largest radioactive spill that went largely overlooked all of these years.  And when I started talking about uranium, we also started to talk about how there are still 500 ‑‑ over 500 abandoned mines on the Navajo Nation that are very far from being cleaned up.  There is still uranium mining happening that’s potentially going to happen near the Grand Canyon.  There’s an operating mill near White Mesa in Utah.  And so we looked at the Southwest.  I thought that this was a really cool opportunity to shed a light on an environmental issue that I think has gone largely overlooked.

And I think the episode serves as a cautionary tale not to repeat the past, and we made a conscious choice to put something in 2022 to make it very present, to create a sense of care and humanity at the core of these issues.  And, you know, there are environmental justice issues in Indigenous communities all over the country, and this was the one that felt closest to home for me and one of the ones that I thought was most emblematic of sort of the unfortunate environmental racism that Indigenous communities face in the Country.  And also to say this is all of our issue because we all share this land and the water resources together.  But that’s sort of the genesis of sort of where it came from.  It was something that they had, and then I threw in the uranium topic at the core of it.

QUESTION:  This is question is for Michael.  First of all, hi, Michael.  What is it that every time you attack a character you bring a little bit of yourself into that character?  You share a part of yourself in that, whether that be a good part or a part you’d like to bury.  As a director what parts of yourself do you bring to that role?  To that aspect?

MICHAEL CHIKLIS:  That’s a great question.  My camera keeps going out on you guys.  I’m so sorry.

LES EISNER:  Your audio’s fine Michael. So you’re good

MICHAEL CHIKLIS:  Okay.  Very good.  As a director, when you’re looking at ‑‑ there’s a remarkable freedom actually with regard to directing that isn’t there when you’re acting.  As an actor, you’re sort of constrained to the particular role that you’re working on, that you’re cast in.

I think one of the wonderful things about directing is your creative mind really, really is firing, as my fellow directors mentioned earlier, on all cylinders.  Because, again, there’s someone coming to you with the nail polish color of a particular actress or, you know, whatever it is.

So also, you’re creating the narrative.  You’re able to put your sort of vision of a particular story that’s being told.  You’re controlling the way it’s told.  And I think it has to do with opening your imagination.  You’re constantly asking yourself the question “How would I respond to this?  What would I do if this were me?”  And I think when you bring that sort of openheartedness to storytelling – see, it’s not enough for me ‑‑ and I’ve always said this as an actor and now especially as a director. It’s not enough for me for you to watch something that I’ve made in some sort of passive none‑involved way.

Ideally, I want to entertain you, but I want you to think and particularly to feel.  I want you to be moved, and in two dimensions, that’s not always the easiest thing, but it’s the goal.  And it’s very, very important to me as a director and as an actor to move you.  So I want to find whatever is authentic and human about the story and the characters that I’m telling and bring that to the fore so that you as an audience member can be moved.   Does that answer your question?

MICHAEL THORN:  I think it’s one of the powerful things about this series is that, on one hand, it’s an entertaining, provocative, thrilling courtroom drama at its most simplistic.  But on the other hand, it has this emotional contrast in every episode with the audience where we’re going to move and surprise, you know, the audience.

And our goal, really, is to pierce culture and the best way to do it, we believe, is to reflect culture.  And you look at this panel, this incredible panel under Howard’s, you know, writing and showrunning.  But you look at this panel and can’t really talk about the stories we’re talking about when it’s not borne out of authentic voices and authentic storytellers.

And it’s so exciting to start with this group right here and bring that show out to America to really talk about these both entertaining and weekly provocative stories. So — but I hope every one of these episodes moves people in a different way and connects people to these kind of universal stories.

LES EISNER:  We have time just for two more questions.

HOWARD GORDON:   I was just going to say thank you, Michael.  Michael was very good.  So crucial in literally saying go for it.  Don’t pull ‑‑ I mean, and we did.  And it was like he gave us like the green light but, you know, insisted that every one of these has to be something that you’re dying to tell.  Every story has to be.  And I feel like that metric and really the north star stood for the whole duration of the whole show. So thank you.

LES EISNER:  So we’re going to close out with two questions.  We’re running out of time.

QUESTION:  Yeah, Michael.  You’re constantly met with challenges, whether it’s acting or directing.  Are you ever scared when you start a new challenge? And if you are, what do you do?

MICHAEL CHIKLIS:  I think everyone on this panel would agree.  Every single time — I don’t care what I’m doing — I’m always terrified before I do it, and it’s because I care.  I think experience helps a lot because you’ve been there before.  You know, my father used to say to me, “Kid, be afraid, but do it any way.”  Because you have to fight through your fear and realize that the payoff is so much greater than ‑‑ you know, the fear is just a natural ‑‑ it’s anticipation.  It’s anticipation of the unknown, what might happen, all that could go wrong.  You still have to marshal that, put it aside, walk through the fire, and go, “You know what? This is important.  This is something that I want to do.  It’s all going to be okay.”  And you take some deep breaths, and you move forward.  That’s what you do.

QUESTION:  This is for the actors/directors.  How do you treat actors, then?  Are you very reticent, then, to give them, you know, line reading directions?  How do you deal with that?  Because I’m sure you hated it if any director tried to give it to you.

BILLY PORTER:  Well, I know what I like and I know how I want people to talk to me and I know how I want people to communicate with me and I know how I want directors to respect me.  So I do that.  I live by that example, and I treat my actors with the utmost respect.


BILLY PORTER:  Because they are smart people that make it work.

MARLEE MATLIN:  Exactly.  Exactly.  Yeah, I find, myself, that I am transparent.  I am extremely transparent.  I have to be transparent with my actors.  I always start the day when I shoot by saying, you know, let’s first focus on safety.  Let’s talk with our A.D.s.  Let’s talk with our set and crew.  And I take 30 seconds to say hello to each and every actor, and I give them a pep talk of sorts. And “Let’s kick ass” is basically what I say.  And then, as we began shooting, then I just make it my point, especially with my deaf actors, to communicate clearly and make us both, as actor and director, to communicate without any barriers. And that’s the fact.

It’s never happened for these actors before.  Many of them said we’ve never had a director talk to us this way because we’ve never worked with a director that’s deaf.  So if I feel like my hearing actors aren’t hearing me, then I work with my interpreters and I make sure that the communication is just as clear with the deaf actors.  I pay attention.  I let them be who they are and treat them, as Billy just said, with respect as how I would want to be treated.

MICHAEL CHIKLIS:  Also, you invite them into the collaboration.  A lot of times, my direction comes in the form of a question.  You know, I’ll say to an actor “What do you think is” – “do you think there’s any room for her to be angry here?”  You know, “do you think there’s” ‑‑ and just by virtue of coming to them and asking, you’re inviting them in to collaborate with you.

And actors really appreciate that.  They want for their voices to be heard.  They want to be respected, as Billy said.  And that’s the way ‑‑ you know, if you treat someone the way you ‑‑ it’s the Golden Rule.  Treat them the way you want to be treated, with respect and dignity.

LES EISNER:  Okay.  That’s all the time we have for Accused today.  There’s a number of questions still in the queue, and we apologize we couldn’t get to you, but we’re on a really tight schedule this afternoon.

As I mentioned earlier, Accused will premiere on Sunday, January 22nd and then make its time period premiere on Tuesday, January 24th, following the season 4 debut of 911: Lone Star.

Alison Daulerio and Aly Sands are running point on the Accused publicity campaign. So please reach out to them if you have any follow-ups or need more information.

Michael Chiklis in "Accused" on FOX


Accused is a collection of 15 intense, topical and exquisitely human stories of crime and punishment. Each episode is a fast-paced provocative thriller, exploring a different crime, in a different city, with an entirely original cast. Based on the BBC’s BAFTA-winning crime anthology, each episode opens in a courtroom on the defendant, with viewers knowing nothing about their crime or how they ended up on trial. Told from the defendant’s point of view through flashbacks, the show holds a mirror up to current times with evocative and emotional stories. In the end, audiences will discover how an ordinary person gets caught up in extraordinary circumstances, and how one impulsive decision can impact the course of that life – and the lives of others — forever. The show features cinematic auspices and production values anchored by Oscar, Tony and Emmy-winning talent, including Michael Chiklis, Abigail Breslin, Whitney Cummings, Margo Martindale, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Wendell Pierce, Rachel Bilson, Jack Davenport, Molly Parker, Rhea Perlman, Betsy Brandt, Keith Carradine, Aisha Dee, Jason Ritter and directors Billy Porter, Marlee Matlin, Tazbah Chavez and Michael Chiklis.

Accused is co-produced by Sony Pictures Television and FOX Entertainment, and executive-produced and developed for American television by Howard Gordon, and executive-produced by Alex Gansa, David Shore, Glenn Geller, Erin Gunn, All3Media America’s Jacob Cohen-Holmes, and Jimmy McGovern, Sita Williams, Roxy Spencer and Louise Pedersen for All3Media International. Frank Siracusa and John Weber also serve as executive producers. Created by Jimmy McGovern, the original series debuted in 2010 on BBC One.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Aaron Ashmore and Megan Boone in "Accused" on FOX