The name Yvonne Strahovski might not be familiar yet to US audiences, but you’re probably seeing her face pop up all over, along with her costar Zachary Levi, in ads for NBC’s new fall series Chuck. Levi plays the title character, a semi-directionless guy working at the Best Buy-like “Buy More” store. Chuck becomes immersed in a world of spies and action after he receives a very fateful email from his old college roommate. We’ve been mentioning this show a lot here at IGN TV since May, and it’s one of our favorites among the new fall series, doing a great job mixing action, comedy, and a fair share of geekiness into one highly appealing program.
Strahovski plays Sarah Walker, a CIA agent who is one of two rivals — the other played by Firefly’s Adam Baldwin — to track down Chuck and find out what exactly he knows and how the information can be used. Soon Chuck is in the midst of the kind of insane situations he’d only played in his videogames before, and Sarah, to maintain her cover when not on a mission, is living a mundane life, and eventually forced to take a rather demeaning job for someone with her skills (hint: hot dogs are involved).
This is the first role on U.S. television for the Australian actress, but by the end of the pilot — which includes scenes in which she’s dressed to kill (or barely dressed at all) while calmly handling all sorts of lethal weapons — she’s left a big impression. I spoke to Strahovski for an exclusive chat with IGN about her new series and her sexy and dangerous role in it.
IGN TV: What did you think when you read the Chuck pilot and saw what your character was like?
Strahovski: I loved it. It was intriguing, it was funny, and it was action packed. It was very intriguing actually, because there isn’t anything really like that on television at the moment.
IGN TV: Are you pretty much getting to live out the fantasy of every kid, and be this bad ass action character?
Strahovski: [Laughs] Yeah, I love it! I mean, I get into some crazy situations.
IGN TV: You have a very impressive scene in the pilot where you’re not only dancing, but displaying some impressive knife throwing skills at the same time. I imagine you had to do a lot of choreography for that scene?
Strahovski: Yeah, there was a bit of choreography involved. But also I had to work as well to get the technique right with throwing the knives and being savvy with all that sort of stuff. That day was a tough day! I was running a fever that day.
IGN TV: Your character also shows off some impressive talents behind the wheel of the car in one scene.
Strahovski: Yeah, but I didn’t get to drive the car. [Laughs] I wish I did, but I can’t say that I did.
IGN TV: How long have you lived in America?
Strahovski: Oh, five months.
IGN TV: Do they have Best Buy or the equivalent in Australia? Did you get what they were sending up on the show?
Strahovski: Well, not until I actually saw the set and then I realized. Yeah, we have an equivalent of that, of course. I don’t know, what would you call it? Maybe like a K-Mart.
IGN TV: There’s a certain ambiguous nature to your character, and it’s not clear if she can totally be trusted. Are you looking forward to exploring that?
Strahovski: Absolutely. I think that my character has been involved in so many different, dangerous situations, and that’s one of the best things about her. She’s been stranded out in the desert for days at end and had to get herself out of there. She’s been buried alive in a coffin and had to get herself out of that. She’s just been in so many different crazy situations that it’s really fun exploring that.
IGN TV: What can you say about where the show goes in the upcoming episodes?
Strahovski: All I can say is it gets even more action packed than the pilot from what I’ve seen. It’s just fun. You’re going to fall in love with the characters even more.
IGN TV: How is Zach [Levi] to work with?
Strahovski: Zach’s a bundle of energy. He puts music on all of the time and dances to it. He’s crazy.
IGN TV: I know Zach is a big videogame fan. Has he tried to get you into them?
Strahovski: He’s tried with me once, actually, but I declined on the offer. Maybe I will become a videogame freak soon after this!
IGN TV: How is Adam Baldwin to work with? Is he as intimidating on set as he is onscreen?
Strahovski: Oh no, he’s a teddy bear. He’s great. We get along really well. But I’m looking forward to exploring that dynamic between us on the show; the evil [vibes] that we have towards each other.