A Face Without A Name... William Fichtner Talks 'Crossing Lines', 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' And Keeping Busy

Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles
Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles

Yes, of course you recognise this man, he must surely be among the top five busiest men in Hollywood, but can you name him?

Nope, us neither, which is exactly how WILLIAM FICHTNER - admit it, you had no idea - likes to play it...

"My career has been more of a character-driven thing," he smiles conspiratorially when we sit down in London. "I don't think that lends itself to that recognisability that someone might get from being known for one thing, one bigger thing, a TV show or a massive film.

William Fichtner with his castmates on TV espionage thriller 'Crossing Lines'

"I don't know if I ever hit that definitive one role. I don't think I want it. Come along with some great leading man role, yeah, but it tends to go to other places. Give me that leading man paycheque, and I'll do the stuff I do, that's the perfect combination."

Of the character roles of which he speaks, there have been more than a few, including scene-stealing turns in 'The Dark Knight', 'The Lone Ranger' - for some reason, as a convincing villain more often than not - as well as TV in 'Entourage', 'Prison Break' and a guest spot as a Republican High Court Judge candidate in 'The West Wing'.

His latest role is in hit espionage TV thriller 'Crossing Lines', all about a special crime unit empowered by the International Criminal Court to cross traditional borders to bag those uncatchable wrong'uns - basically, 'Spooks' on steroids.

The role of traumatised cop Carl Hickman in the series has meant shifting his family to Prague, with his son in school there, signed up to a local baseball team - all this and they don't even know if the show's going to be renewed yet. As a family man with responsibilities, does that make for a stress-free existence?

William as he appeared (as the villain) in 'The Dark Knight'

William is philosophical. "Any actor has to go through that. We hear the same rejection as people get in a lifetime but in a few years. All you do is hear 'no'. I think that's pretty much true for everyone except maybe a dozen. If the rollercoaster took me up and down every time I heard no, I'd be a basket case.

"When I was in my twenties and things didn't come my way, I would get really bummed out. Now my down time is in the four to seven minute range, and then a nice glass of Cabernet comes out, and I think, 'let's go in the pool.'"

It doesn't sound like the pool will be necessary for such salvation in the short term. As well as the ongoing 'Crossing Lines', there's 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles', for which William is voicing the character Eric Sacks.

Is he a villain once again? "He has... problems," is what the actor will say. "I like to play a character with redeeming features. If you can find out what a character's thinking about, then all of a sudden a real person shows up. That's what I look for."

... and as Republican Supreme Court Judge candidate Christopher Mulready in 'The West Wing' alongside Glenn Close

The shift of focus to TV that everyone in Hollywood is talking about doesn't seem to have lessened his work load, and William makes the point that "20 years when I started out in film, everyone was saying the best days were 20 years before that".

He smiles. "I don't spend too much time thinking about it. I don't think my opinion is going to make a difference. At the end, I still have to get to the Little League game on time."

And why do they keep casting this exceptionally pleasant, polite, good-humoured man as a villain?

He hums and haahs. "I think I just snap well."

Crossing Lines Season 2 is available on Amazon Prime Instant Video. Watch the trailer below...

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