Yeah, we know all about Chuck Bartowski. He toils at Buy More and has a sister named Ellie and a best bud named Morgan. But — and fittingly — the agent to his secret, Sarah Walker, is full of mystery. TVGuide.com set out on a mission of our own to get the scoop on Aussie beauty and U.S. TV newcomer Yvonne Strahovski. (Psst, she reveals what it is that she just did for the very… first… time!) NBC’s Chuck airs Mondays at 8 pm/ET.
TVGuide.com: I’m so glad to talk to you! We get regular reports on the most-searched-for names, and you’re towards the top of the list. Did you know that?
Yvonne Strahovski: Yeah! [My publicist] Erica told me, and that’s pretty special.
TVGuide.com: Of course, the results would be even better if your fans could decide on a spelling of your last name.
Strahovski: Oh, yes…. Well, it’s spelled correctly in the credits of the show.
TVGuide.com: Ever think of going with, like, “Yvonne Streep”?
Strahovski: I did think about that, but the way it’s spelled now is the phonetic version of what it usually is [Yvonne Strzechowski].
TVGuide.com: What do you think all these people searching for you are hoping to find? Racy FHM photos?
Strahovski: I’m not sure. They won’t find any FHM pics, though! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Yeah, I came up empty myself when I went foraging. There’s not much out there on you.
Strahovski: No, there isn’t. But now that Chuck has started, there will be more and more!
TVGuide.com: I now hear that you in fact have an Australian accent. I wasn’t sure, because some actors, when they’re working here, try not to use it during downtime.
Strahovski: I’m not one of those people. In between takes, I’m Australian. I feel a bit silly if I stay in it the whole time. I don’t feel like it’s me talking to people. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Do you and Rachel Griffiths and Jacqueline McKenzie have a bar you hang out at together?
Strahovski: Actually, no — but there is a pretty strong Australian community here. They do screenings every so often of an Australian film, and they’ll have the featured Australian actor come in for a Q&A session. But I don’t really have time to go to them anymore because I don’t have a life, now that I work on Chuck!
TVGuide.com: I was speaking to Alex O’Loughlin from CBS’ Moonlight the other day….
Strahovski: Yeah, Alex and I know each other. His dad and my mom work together in Australia.
TVGuide.com: I was busting his chops about all the Aussies and Brits working on prime time this season and he was like, “Hey, we’re just going where the work is.”
Strahovski: That’s right. There’s not a lot happening in Australia.
TVGuide.com: Have you had any previous flirtation with U.S. prime-time television?
Strahovski: This was the first pilot season I had done. I was actually auditioning from Australia, in Sydney, putting auditions on tape and sending them over as QuickTime [files]. Chuck was one of the [shows] I sent to, and they called me to say, “Come have a meeting with us.” So I met with [executive producer/director] McG and [series creators] Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak, and they gave me the job.
TVGuide.com: Having previewed this week’s episode, I have to say damn you for making us want Sarah with Chuck so badly. The chemistry between you and Zachary Levi is great, especially at the very end of this week’s episode….
Strahovski: Well, they’re going to build on that tension…. We’ll see what happens.
TVGuide.com: The O.C.’s Rachel Bilson is coming on the show for a few episodes. Is she on the spy side or more the mall-employee side?
Strahovski: More the mall-employee side. [Laughs] She plays one of Chuck’s “interests” for a little bit.
TVGuide.com: Does she raise Sarah’s hackles at all?
Strahovski: Sarah gets a little jealous… a little. A little! Not that she can reveal it to anyone.
TVGuide.com: What do you think about the largely great reaction Chuck has gotten? Did you suspect that going in?
Strahovski: This was my introduction to the American industry, so coming to know all this stuff has all been a surprise. I certainly didn’t expect it to get such critical acclaim.
TVGuide.com: Were you scared at all, being in your first U.S. production?
Strahovski: No, no, because this is just the beginning for me!
TVGuide.com: Are we going to get any backstory on Sarah, on how this young, beautiful woman came to be an elite-class secret agent?
Strahovski: I’m not sure how far they will go with that. In the pilot you saw Sarah flipping through the photos on her phone of her and [Chuck’s ill-fated secret-agent college chum] Bryce, and we’ll address that a bit.
TVGuide.com: And for how much longer will she be in the Swiss Miss uniform?
Strahovski: [Laughs] Um, I think for a good portion of this season!
TVGuide.com: Not that it doesn’t work for me. It’s just that in this week’s episode, I worried that it’s hard for her to do hand-to-hand combat in pigtails and lederhosen.
Strahovski: Actually, that is the most comfortable costume that I wear on this show. I have flat shoes and I can actually move around in my fight scenes. I feel very free in that outfit.
TVGuide.com: Have you had any sort of martial-arts training, or do you just thank god that you have a good stuntperson?
Strahovski: Actually, she doesn’t get to do much, because I like to do my own things. I’ve been very physical my whole life. I went out hiking and camping for days in the Australian forest, and when I trained at drama school for three years, we did a whole lot on stage-fighting techniques…. And I was a dancer from 5 to 18, so I have a memory for choreography. It’s not hard for me to do all that stuff. In fact it’s one of my favorite parts of the job.
TVGuide.com: Is the formula going to be, from week to week, that something comes up, Chuck has information, and they go on a mission together? Or might there be deviations?
Strahovski: There is a mission every week and Chuck somehow gets involved, intentionally or not. And sometimes the Chuck world and the spy world cross and create dangerous situations. There’s a lot of stuff to explore within that.
TVGuide.com: Before I let you go, since you are a bit of a mystery, why don’t you share three things people might be surprised to learn about Yvonne Strahovski — starting with any tattoos.
Strahovski: No tattoos, but I had a nose ring for five years — and from close-up you can see the hole in my nose still! What else…. I’m pretty gross. When I talk I can be gross and crude…. And I’m more a boy than a girl in some ways. I had my first pedicure and my first manicure last week. I would rather go play soccer with the boys than have a pedicure with the girls!