Known for his comedic and dramatic turns, Mark Valley is perfect for the role of Christopher Chance in the TV version of the popular graphic novel Human Target.
Another plus in playing this part, Valley graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, and began his acting career while serving overseas in the Army. He first came to prominence in the starring role on Keen Eddie, and went on to play lawyer Brad Chase in Boston Legal and FBI Agent John Scott in Fringe.
As Christopher Chance, he is a unique private eye who hires out his body to protect people, essentially becoming a human target.
It does seem like the last couple of roles you’ve had in TV have been a little bit buttoned-up, in comparison to this. This puts me in mind of your work on Keen Eddie where’s he’s a bit of a loose cannon.
One of the things that drew me to the show was Simon West directed the pilot, and was one of the producers. And he also directed the pilot for Keen Eddie. It’s a character that I haven’t played in a while.
What kind of physical training did you have to do before starting this?
I lost some weight, and I did go to the gym. I had a trainer, who used to be in the Swiss army, who really pushed me. You always have to be ready because they could have you taking your shirt off at any time. But it was fun to take my shirt off, I thought, ‘This is weird, this really feels gratuitous.’
What other training did you have?
I knew a little bit about handguns, but I had to have some refresher courses on how to use it. But I did do one thing; I tried not to blink my eyes when I fired. That was something that I tried to learn in the army.
You were so well-dressed it looked like it was difficult to do the action sequences.
Yeah, we have stunt people as well, really well-qualified that know how to do all this.
So it’s just as easy as being in Boston Legal, no sweat at all?
No, it was a little different. There were a couple of times I had to do these sidekicks, and I would tear the seam of my pants in an embarrassing spot, and that never happened on Boston Legal. That never happened in court.
Did you read the original Human Target comics or see the earlier TV series that they did of it?
Yes, I did, unfortunately I’m not going to be able to replicate Rick Springfield’s hair. That’s where I decided, ‘I’m going to have to let that go.’ I downloaded scenes from it that were on YouTube and watched them. It’s just one of those funny shows from that era.
This was good timing as you just left Fringe.
It’s fantastic timing, and we’re shooting in Vancouver as well so we’re just blessed with that situation. I’m sort of happy to be off of Fringe, to be honest with you. I spent most of my time on my back with electros hooked up to my head when they were downloading my memory. There’s not really a lot of ways to play that as an actor, so it got a little boring for me.
How much do you know about the background of your character?
There’s a little mythology involved, I think that anything that comes from a comic there’s going to be some interesting back story and forward story and where he’s going to go. I just really trusted Jonathon [Steinberg, the series’ writer/producer], he’s just a fantastic writer and he really understands the whole concept of the show. He’s got a real vision for it, which is one thing I could tell when I read the script.
What is the one thing you hope they’re going to allow you to do in this show?
Ride a horse, I love horses. I don’t have one, but I would love to do that.
Is there much room for comedy in this series?
One thing that is really interesting about this was that the graphic novels had a real interesting dry comedy to them. The humor won’t be quite as physical, it will be a little more subtle like it is in the graphic novels. He had this wry, acerbic attitude about people, but he finds some amusement in that as well, and I think I’d like to see that come through. I’ve never really seen that before in the kind of way I’d like to see it happen with an action hero.
For young people who aren’t aware of the graphic novel, what do you think this show offers them?
This is going to be something they haven’t seen before, but I have seen. They can experience some of the fun I had growing up watching The Six Million Dollar Man in a much more modern scenario where we’re going to be able to use really high production values and it will be just like watching a movie