Mark Valley, the star of Fox's upcoming midseason series Human Target, says the show—in which he goes undercover to protect a different client every week—has required him to do some crazy s--t, including fighting an assassin in a train car, getting kneed in the face and having to speak a lengthy scene in Japanese. And that's just in the pilot.
"Generally, the way ... the way I find out about them, it's like, 'Mark, can you ride a horse?'" Valley said in an exclusive interview on the show's Vancouver, Canada, set last fall. "'Yeah.' 'Mark, what do you know about hacking into, you know, onboard computer systems?' 'Ah, nothing.' 'OK, we're going to need to train you for that.' 'Mark, can you walk on your hands?' 'What? Why don't you just tell me what the episode is about? You know?'"
In Human Target—which is loosely based on a DC Comics series by Len Wein and Carmine Infantino—Valley (formerly of Fringe) plays Christopher Chance, a private contractor/security expert/bodyguard who is hired when a threat cannot be solved through normal means of protection.
Chance works with his business partner and trusted friend, Winston (Pushing Daisies' Chi McBride), and hired gun Guerrero (Watchmen's Jackie Earle Haley) to integrate himself completely into his clients' lives to draw out and ultimately eliminate the threat by becoming the human target. (The show debuts with a special pilot on Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. ET/PT before moving to its regular 9 p.m. Wednesday timeslot on Jan. 20.)
In the pilot episode, Chance is hired to protect the beautiful engineer (Battlestar Galactica's Tricia Helfer) of California's first bullet train, which required him to do a long scene in Japanese.
"For some reason that was probably—that was one of the scariest things I had to do," Valley said. "Because it was a lot of Japanese. And I had someone teach me, and [it] actually kind of piqued my interest. I wanted to learn more Japanese, but that feeling was fleeting. Because I never really got back into it. But, yeah, it was a lot of Japanese."
Chance also gets a knee to the face and had to fight an assassin in a speeding train. "The fight scenes have been pretty intense, pretty violent and pretty, not necessarily graphic, but just really well executed," Valley said. "And, yeah, we don't have time to kind of set everything up and to make it look like, you know, one of these ... classic fights that you've seen. ... There's almost two kinds of fights that we have. The one ends up being a little more stylized, you know, depending on the situation, and then there's just some bald-face scrappy brawls, where it's just ... there's really not a lot of martial arts going on, it's just two guys pounding on each other. ... For some reason that is just wildly therapeutic."
In a later episode, Valley finds himself handcuffed on a speeding motorcycle. "I'm not really good at riding motorcycles, to be honest with you, but they wanted me to ride one in this, so I learned," he said. "The instructor didn't want me to go out of first gear. I did go out of first gear, but that was probably the scariest thing I did, yeah."
Valley also has to play a monk in a monastery in a coming episode. "I probably shouldn't go too much into it but, yeah ... —all I know is I had to be fitted for a cassock," he said.
Then there's that Molotov cocktail ...