With CHIPS opening this weekend, I recently sat down with Michael Peña for an exclusive video interview. During our wide-ranging conversation he talked about how he got involved in CHIPS, how writer-director Dax Shepard pitched and sold the movie with Peña playing Poncherello without ever meeting him, how much fun they had making the film, and a lot more. In addition, Peña talked about the last couple of years and the great roles he’s been given, but also the frustrating roles he gets offered, if he’s going to be in Ant-Man and the Wasp, voicing a character in The LEGO Ninjago Movie, being part of Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, and more.
If you’re not familiar with CHIPS, it’s a feature film adaptation of the TV series of the same name. Dax Shepard wrote, directed, and stars in the action comedy as Jon Baker, who was played by Larry Wilcox in the TV series that ran from 1977 to 1983. He’s joined onscreen by Michael Peña as Frank Llewelyn “Ponch” Poncherello, played by Erik Estrada in the TV show, and the story finds the two partnered up as officers of the California Highway Patrol. Shepard’s Baker is a beaten-up professional motorbiker who’s looking to put his life back together, while Ponch is an undercover Federal agent investigating a heist that may or may not be an inside job. The film also stars Kristen Bell, Adam Brody, Jessica McNamee, Ryan Hansen, and Vincent D’Onofrio.
Check out what Michael Peña had to say in the video above and below is a list of what we talked about followed by the CHIPS official synopsis.
- On keeping the interview chill.
- How Dax Shepard pitched and sold the movie with Michael Peña playing Poncherello without ever meeting him.
Talks about the ups and downs of development.
- Working with Dax Shepard and how he cracked up on set all the time.
- How the shoot was really fun, compared to something like End of Watch which was a more difficult shoot.
- Talks about the last couple of years and the great roles he’s been given, but also the frustrating roles he gets offered.
- Did doing Ant-Man open new doors for him?
- Is he in Ant-Man and the Wasp?
- Talks about The LEGO Ninjago Movie and his character. Says he’s watched all the TV shows.
- A Wrinkle in Time He has a cameo and talks about the incredible sets and working with Ava DuVernay.
- Talks about Extinction.
Here’s the official synopsis for CHIPS:
Jon Baker (Shepard) and Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (Peña) have just joined the California Highway Patrol (CHP) in Los Angeles but for very different reasons. Baker is a beaten up pro motorbiker trying to put his life and marriage back together. Poncherello is a cocky undercover Federal agent investigating a multi-million dollar heist that may be an inside job—inside the CHP.
The inexperienced rookie and hardened pro are teamed together, but clash more than click, so kickstarting a partnership is easier said than done. But with Baker’s bike skills combined with Ponch’s street savvy it might just work…if they don’t drive each other crazy along the way.