On top of getting to perform breathless stunts and be the hero on a weekly basis, there's another reason Mark Valley relishes his starring role on Human Target. "It's nice to know that I'm playing a character that once saved Batman's a--," the actor jokes, referring to his character's comic book legacy.
Based on the DC Comics character of the same name, Human Target (Tuesday at 9/8c) follows a bodyguard named Christopher Chance who will go to any lengths to protect a client. Chance enlists the help of not only his trained detective skills and physical prowess but his partners in crime Winston (Chi McBride) and Guerrero (Jackie Earle Hayley).
Although the original Human Target was known for impersonating his clients to protect them — whereas Chance simply integrates himself into his client's lives — Valley says the show stays true to its source material. "I'm always just impressed that everything from Chance's wardrobe to what he would say is in there. I think, most importantly, the character himself had a real gallows humor about things, was a little bit dark and also enjoyed what he did. I'm trying to kind of bring that out as well."
Valley says it's important not to underestimate how much Chance enjoys his job despite — or because of — the danger that comes with it. In the series' first two episodes, Chance has already saved clients on a runaway bullet train and a plane on the verge of crashing. "There's a real sort of rush that comes from saving someone's life or making it through some really challenging physical situation," he says.
That rush is part of the show's charm, thanks to its many fight scenes and real-life effects. "That's what gives it a kind of gritty, throwback appeal that you had in Die Hard and some of the television stuff back [in the '80s] as well," Valley says. "The action has been pretty thrilling ... The fight scenes are the most fun and they're probably the most dangerous as well."
Luckily, Valley is used to danger. Before making a name for himself on shows such as Boston Legal and Fringe, Valley served in the U.S. Army. "It's helped me in strange ways. One is getting up in the morning when it's still dark out; that reminds me of being in the Army. We use guns in the Army so I'm maybe a little bit more familiar with that," Valley says. "We had to do a scene where I was wearing an Army uniform and I remembered how I used to tuck my pants into my boots so I wouldn't trip."
Beyond the action, more of Chance's back story will come into play as the series progresses. Valley hints to a previous rift between his character and Winston as well as a woman from Chance's past he has yet to get over. "We have mythology dumps, as the writers call it, in certain episodes and we'll find out more about Chance, which I think is exciting. Every time I get a little clue, it's just one more look into this person."
Just like Chance, Valley says Human Target is not easily pigeonholed. "It's going to take awhile to define itself."