Recently we had the opportunity to chat with Yvonne Strahovski, co-star of Chuck, about her role as CIA Agent Sarah Walker, how she handles working with the boys club, and why Sarah Lancaster calls her “an adventuress”.
ChuckTV.net: Thanks so much for talking with us, it’s such a treat to get you. We’re such big fans!
Yvonne Strahovski: (laughs) Of Chuck?
CTV: Yeah, and of your role on Chuck.
YS: Yeah, it’s a shame we’re not shooting it anymore. The strike has kind of stopped us.
CTV: That is a shame. What are you doing in the meantime?
YS: Just going to all sorts of meetings and keeping myself busy with prospects, like other future projects and stuff.
CTV: Is there anything you can tell us about now, or is it still in the “just talking” stages?
YS: Yeah, nothing I could really talk about now.
CTV: Well we’ll keep an eye out and if there’s news, let us know and we’ll post it for everybody to see.
YS: Yeah, I will, for sure.
CTV: Since you’re fairly new to viewers in the U.S., everybody wants to know “where did she come from” and “what did she do before.”
CTV: We know you’re from Australia…
CTV: We actually interviewed Sarah Lancaster a few weeks ago and she described you as “she’s from Australia and quite the adventuress”.
YS: Quite the what?
CTV: Quite the adventuress.
YS: Uh huh. (laughs)
CTV: So what do you do to get a title like “adventuress”?
YS: Um, I don’t know. (laughs) I guess…well, I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of times that we a lot of fun on set. We all get along so well and we always have, um, some crazy moments. Actually a lot of crazy moments. We all got together actually yesterday, because we were shooting some promos. They’re airing the last two episodes that we’ve shot so far on Thursday the 24th. Did you know that?
CTV: Yes we did, and we’re very excited.
YS: Yeah, so we all saw each other yesterday and it was a lot of fun. It was like a big reunion for us.
CTV: I guess you guys haven’t been together since before Christmas, huh?
YS: Yeah, that’s right, we wrapped I think on the 6th of December, so it’s been a long time.
CTV: Well that must have been fun.
YS: It was fun. The spots should start airing today, actually.
CTV: Oh, we’ll have to watch for those, and get them on the site. You know they’ll be on YouTube in, like, 5 minutes.
CTV: I heard that you sent the Chuck producers your audition tape over the Internet?
YS: I did, yeah. I was shooting a series at the time, so I couldn’t come as early as I would’ve liked to during pilot season. So while I was shooting the series, whenever my manager would send over some scripts and some auditions, I would hire a studio in Sydney and put down my audition and we would send it over the Internet, in a QuickTime file. I must’ve just filmed the Chuck audition and flown in in early February. They must’ve just watched it and it all kind of happened very quickly from there.
CTV: Wow, it’s almost like a fairy tale.
YS: It was! I was still jetlagged when I was in meetings. (laughs) Meeting with [showrunners] Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak.
CTV: How do you like living in L.A.?
YS: Um, it’s good. It’s taken me a long time to get used to it because it is quite different from living in Sydney. I mean, everything’s so spaced out here. It takes ages to drive somewhere because of the traffic. And you know, I’ve been working a lot. After the pilot I shot a movie and after that we went straight into shooting the series, so I haven’t had a lot of time off to explore the city or hang out and get to know it. But, I guess now in the last few weeks I’ve had more of a chance to get to do that, which is really good.
CTV: Yeah, that is good because from all accounts it sounds like you’re going to be there for a while.
YS: Yeah. (laughs)
CTV: The show’s getting such a…it’s got a pretty big fan base.
YS: Yeah, it does. It’s going to start over in a whole bunch of other countries. I’m going to Australia, actually, in February for a press tour. That’s kind of interesting as well, because I’m leaving on February 7, and it’s funny because it will kind of be like coming full circle because that’s when I arrived here, on February 7 (2007).
CTV: Oh, that’s cool!
YS: Yeah, and I haven’t been back to Australia, so it’s going to be great.
CTV: Kind of a triumphant homecoming, huh?
YS: (laughs) Yeah, it should be fun.
CTV: I know you get asked a lot about your accent…
YS: Uh huh…
CTV: So I’m not really going to ask you about that, but I was watching your Craig Ferguson interview where you mimicked his Scottish accent and made him call for his mommy.
YS: Uh huh. (laughs)
CTV: Did you study accents in drama school? Are you able to do a lot of different ones?
YS: Yeah, we did a whole bunch of different accents. We did American ones, and the different versions of American like Brooklyn and Southern, we did English accents, Scottish, Irish, Cockney accent, um, you know, some European accents as well, so we touched on all of them pretty much.
CTV: Well I’ve heard three of them so far and I’ve been impressed.
CTV: You know, we Americans, we’re just fascinated by anyone who sounds different than us, you know?
YS: (laughs) Yeah, I’ve noticed.
CTV: Especially when you can then mimic another accent so completely, it’s almost like speaking another language.
YS: It is kind of, yeah. Actually, I don’t know if you know this, but I speak Polish. Polish was actually my first language.
YS: Yeah. My whole family is Polish. They left Poland to come to Australia about 26 years ago, and I was born in Australia. But because my parents are both from Poland, we spoke Polish at home at first. And then I went to school and, of course, grew up in an English-speaking country, so my Australian is better, my English is better, but yes, Polish – I’m fluent in Polish. I read and write, my whole family speaks Polish.
CTV: Wow. Do you think we’ll ever get to see that on the show? Like, Sarah goes undercover as a Polish diplomat?
YS: Yeah, that would be kinda cool. There was one line that I did speak in Polish. That was…it was Chuck vs. the Wookiee, I think it was episode 3. Where Karina, the other agent comes into town and, um, she comes to get me with Chuck, and she says something to me…she’s Swedish and she says a line to me in Swedish, and I respond to her in Polish. I don’t know if many people caught that. It was very quick.
CTV: I knew that you were speaking in another language, but I didn’t realize that you were speaking in Polish.
YS: Yes, yes, I was.
CTV: That’s really cool. You kinda got to squeeze that in there.
YS: I did yeah. There’s gonna be a little bit of Russian in the next episode that’s gonna air on the 24th, and, what else…and there’s some German as well, that I speak while I’m at Wienerlicious. So we throw it in here and there.
CTV: Since you’ve been online some, did you see that IGN named your character the best one on TV in 2007?
YS: I did, actually, I was surprised. It was cool to read that.
CTV: I don’t know if you know much about that site but it’s a major one for entertainment.
YS: I’m just getting to know all these websites and familiarizing myself with all of this.
CTV: We were pretty excited when we saw that. We were like, “Duh, of course she is!”
YS: (laughs) Yeah, she’s a pretty cool character to play. I like her.
CTV: Are you very much like Sarah? Just parts of her like you? How are you guys the same and how are you different?
YS: We’re actually very different in a lot of ways. I guess one of the big similarities is the physical sort of aspect of her. I certainly don’t know how to kill people with one move. (laughs) But I am very active like that. I train, I do kung fu, I rock climb, I hike all the time, I love mountain climbing and I love adventurous things.
CTV: So that’s where the “she’s an adventuress” comes from.
YS: I guess so. (laughs)
CTV: You’re right, she does get to be so physical, but then we get those really vulnerable moments, like when she was talking to Casey about does he ever wish he could just settle down. That about made me cry, that little scene.
YS: Did it?
CTV: It was so poignant, you know? It was right after she’d made her decision between Bryce and Chuck, and she was just obviously dealing with some emotional fallout there…
YS: Yeah, well, it’s tough. I mean, she’s given her life over to the CIA, yet how do you express natural human emotions that come through connections that you make with people. It’s sort of a struggle that she has.
CTV: So you work mostly with the boys.
YS: I do, yeah.
CTV: How do you keep them in line?
YS: How do I keep them in line? (laughs)
CTV: Yeah, on the set. ‘Cuz I know, from what I’ve heard, Zac and Joshua and Adam are quite the cut ups. Someone must be keeping them in line there, it must be you.
YS: (laughs) Who else is it going to be, right? No, I often use Adam as my punching bag, actually. He provides for a good punching bag. And Zac and I usually are just disgusting on set.
CTV: So wait a minute, are you telling me that you’re actually a part of the boys club?
YS: Kind of yeah. (laughs) Yeah, I’m definitely more a part of the boys club than the girls club, I think. I’m not really one of the girls who go get manicures and stuff. One of the articles they wrote about me, in one of the New York papers, they published that I had just had my first manicure at the time. And it still is my one and only manicure that I’d ever had…manicure/pedicure, because I just don’t do that.
CTV: I hear ya. I’ve only had two and that’s because I was in weddings.
YS: Oh really?
TV: Yeah, you know, open-toed shoes, you gotta make your feet look pretty.
YS: I just don’t care for that sort of stuff. I’d rather be climbing the side of a mountain. (laughs)
CTV: I know, it just seems like so much maintenance.
YS: I know! It does.
CTV: You were telling us a little bit about working with Zac, working with Adam. You haven’t really gotten to work with Sarah Lancaster a whole lot.
YS: No, I haven’t.
CTV: It would be fun to see more of Agent Sarah and Ellie together.
YS: Yeah, it would be. There’s been a couple of scenes, but it’s not often that that gets to happen. It’s funny, it’s like bringing…I represent the more serious side of the series, whereas Ellie is sort of on the comedy side of the series, so when we come together is interesting.
CTV: Oh, that’s a good point. I think they should have a Girls Night Out.
YS: They should, actually, that’s a good idea.
CTV: See what happens…
YS: Yeah, see how Sarah handles herself. It would be quite an abnormal situation for her.
CTV: And you know, the show being what it is, there would certainly be some sort of danger involved that Ellie doesn’t know about and Sarah’s trying to protect her.
YS: Hmmm, that’s a really good idea. I might have to pitch that to the writers. (laughs)
CTV: It would be pretty funny.
YS: Yeah, yeah, it would be.
CTV: Everybody wants to know about the Chuck/Sarah relationship. Where do you think it’s going? Are we going to see any progress for a while or are we at a standstill? Not because of the writers strike but because of what’s been going on between the two of them?
YS: I don’t know what’s gonna happen to them. Like I said before, it’s that constant struggle for Sarah – her job vs. her heart. Clearly she has a very big soft spot for Chuck, she likes him a lot, but what can you do? She’s working with him, she has to protect him. It’s kind of a conflict of interest.
CTV: That’s true. As far as protecting him, you know they left us on a cliffhanger with the last episode that aired. Casey’s director called him and said, “You’re not getting attached, are you? You’ll be able to do what you have to do.” And he said yeah, he would. Are we going to see more with that in these next two episodes, or are we still waiting to see what happens?
YS: That won’t be touched on too much. The next two episodes are more about other stuff.
CTV: So that’s something they’re setting up for future episodes?
YS: I guess so, yeah. We don’t really know that much, actually. The writers don’t tell us a lot. (laughs)
CTV: Probably so you can’t tell people like me.
YS: Yeah, that’s right. (laughs) It’s probably a good thing because I’m a pathetic liar. Which is ironic because I lie for a living, I guess.
CTV: Now Sarah and Casey together, they’re an interesting team. You said Adam is kind of your punching bag on set; but on camera they’ve got this really interesting dynamic, this interesting chemistry. They don’t quite seem to trust each other, but they have to trust each other.
YS: Yeah, yeah. Well they started off on such a bad foot and I think although Sarah finds Casey obnoxious (laughs), I think she still respects him deep down. I think they do have a respect for each other, they just don’t want to show it. It comes out in with the truth serum where they have a couple of loving moments. It’s funny.
CTV: I really appreciate you talking to us, and I hope we get to talk to you again, when we have some more new episodes.
YS: Yeah, hopefully we start shooting again soon.
Chuck TV, 2008.