Monday, July 25, 2016

Michael Paul Chan from Major Crimes

Major Crimes' own Michael Paul Chan is here for Major Crimes Monday to tell us what it's like to play his character Lt. Mike Tao, why he likes surfing and what advice he gives to aspiring actors. 

Lt. Mike Tao is the technology whiz of the team. Do you like technology? Do you use it at home?

Like the rest of society, I'm attached to my iPhone... Currently looking to upgrade to a "smart home" - the kind where one can control everything from a keypad or smartphone.  I guess that's just keeping up with the times and trying to stay current.  If that's technology then yes, I'm all for it! I think Lt. Tao probably has a longer attention span than I do...

What is the best part about playing Lt. Tao? When you first approached the role, did you do anything to prepare?

Tao is very unpredictable, and I can always have  a wide range of choices when I approach things.  The creative team has made sure that I'm not only the tech geek which was the label that was first attached, but a real cop that gets his share of those duties as well.  Like handling firearms, and punching out the bad guys.

The first time I saw Tao on paper (12 years ago!) I could tell just by following the punctuation that there was a character there.  Alot of pregnant pauses, starts and stops,"I'm sorry", ... kinda of a general uneasiness when he first encountered Brenda Leigh Johnson on The Closer. I took that as a kinda of social awkwardness around a pretty girl that I was attracted too.  So, I recalled all the childhood crushes I had in elementary school, that being the age of discovery...

Do you have any funny stories that you can share from the Major Crimes set?

Mary (McDonnell) and I can rarely hold each others gaze without breaking up into fits of laughter. There comes a point in the day when what we do seems totally silly and we seem to hit that moment at the same time!

If you could play any other character on the show – who would you play and why?

Provenza... he gets all the funny lines.

What is the most challenging thing about playing a police officer?

There's always a lot to live up to when playing a Hero.  

Your resume includes six episodes of Arrested Development. How different was it working on Arrested Development than Major Crimes?

Arrested Development was something that just happened during a slow period and I didn't know it was going to turn into six episodes.  The way it was shot, the principal players would film there coverage with me first, as in, my point of view, and when the camera turned around to face me, they were gone, and I was basically acting alone.  I did get to hang out with Henry Winkler though, and he's a very very nice guy!

I understand you like to surf. It’s hard to imagine the character that you play surfing. When did you start and why do you like it?

I started surfing as a teenager.  First in Hawaii, at Kaiser Bowls, a break on the south shore of Oahu, then in Northern California, at places like Bolinas and Santa Cruz, and now up and down the So Cal coast. 

I ride surfboards, body boards, and now I'm messing around with hand planes.  I like riding waves and being in the ocean period.  My physical & mental  self always feels better after time spent in the ocean.  

What is the process of filming like for you?

Filming is a tedious process. Short scenes you see on TV can take up to 4 to 6 hours, filming it from every angle possible. Memorizing tech talk is always different then learning scenes when two people are talking to each other. One is memorizing words, and the other is taking in ideas...  

You’ve had a long successful acting career. What advice can you give aspiring actors?

I didn't become an actor to be a TV star.  I'm very passionate about the whole process.  I really thought I was going to do small theatre, and perhaps teach film and tv was something I chased after to support a family.  I'm very fortunate that I've been able to keep working at something I love.  

What do you like to do when you’re not acting?

I like to stay active. ocean activities, golf...   oh, and I just put away my motorcycle, having walked away without an accident is very lucky, and I wanted to keep it that way.  It's like the ocean, You've got to know your limitations!

Michael Paul Chan with actor Richard Armitage filming Berlin Station

Are you working on anything else right now that you'd like to tell us about?

When we wrapped season 4 of Major Crimes last year, I was off to Berlin to play Houjin Lin on "Berlin Station" on the Epix channel (owned by Showtime).  That was a lot of fun and my two episodes should be airing sometime in October.  


  1. Another great interview! These Major Crime interviews have been informative and interesting.

  2. I love this series of interviews. Thanks so much. And it was double fun to read this and then a few hours later to see Lt. Mike get out of the limo in his tux, with his award. Perfect timing.

  3. After the word "teach" in one of Chan's answers, there should be a period. Film and TV is the beginning of the next sentence.