Standing in a tiny trailer on the set of the NBC series Chuck, wearing a black leotard that clings to her athletic frame. Yvonne Strahovski stretches her arms behind her head and speaks. “I feel like I’ve developed an alter ego who gets dressed up and walks red carpets and does interviews and is recognized on the street.” She laughs and the room goes quiet. “That’s not me.”
It’s a lovely laugh. The kind of laugh that tortured Russian authors wrote novels about, because it’s guileless and warm and she’s not laughing at anyone, except maybe herself. And because she has no idea how lovely she is. Which is a lovely trait for a person to have.
Hollywood is still new to Strahovski. A year and a half ago, the 26-year-old Australian actress walked off a plane from Sydney and within a week had landed a role on a pilot. That show, Chuck – about a regular guy who’s been dragged into a web of international espionage – is a hit.
She’s still adjusting. “I’m just learning how to walk in high heels,” she says. “I was never a girly girl. I never wore makeup. I never liked fashion. I never bought magazines. Now I have to know all that stuff.”
Raised on dance, theater, sports, and camping, Strahovski is that rare breed of actress who seems grounded and unrehearsed. Actresses do a lot of interviews and are coached to be flirtatious and coy, provocative and funny. The effect is often vaguely arousing and thoroughly trite. There is no trace of this in Strahovski.
Asked which physical attributes she finds attractive in a man, she says, “I’m the sort of girl to whom it really doesn’t matter. It has to be inside out for me. We’re usually friends first.” As for what’s most important in a relationship, she says simply, “Trust. You have to connect on some sort of soul level that’s kind of inexplicable.” And again Strahovski laugh.
Being in Strahovski’s presence can make you feel as if you’re the beneficiary of some random twist of fate, like lucking into a breathtaking view from a secluded mountain tail. You lose your balance momentarily, and then take it in. And you are strengthened by it, grateful that such a thing exists. Ever know a woman like that?
“I’ve always wanted to try everything,” says the bilingual, former straight-A student in her slightly awkward Polish-Australian-American accent. (Polish is her first language.) She’s staring shyly down at her hands, her thick blonde hair falling over her shoulders. “But I think at heart I’m a country girl.”
And how does a man win a country girl? Read on.
6 WAYS TO IMPRESS YVONNE
1. GIVE IT TIME
“I don’t like men who just assume that if they try to pick you up, then they’re going to get a good response from you.” Yvonne says. It’s not the approach: it’s the follow-up. “Men are wrong if they genuinely think that because of their approach they’re going to be attractive to women. It’s totally the opposite.”
2. CHARM HER FOLKS
You are a reflection of her taste and judgment. “A woman wants someone who’s going to be great when she introduces you to her friends and family.”
3. PASS THE TEST
Setbacks happen. She’s watching your response. “Is he the kind of person to sit down, look you in the eye, and say ‘Okay, let’s work this thing out’? Or does he walk out and slam the door in your face? A woman wants someone who is going to stick around and be there through the messy stuff.”
4. SURPPRISE HER
“I like it when a man uses his initiative and comes up with a surprise. He’ll tell you to put that evening aside and tell you what to wear. it’s cute even if it’s a picnic on the beach with a couple glasses of wine, or a fancy dinner somewhere, or staying in and cooking a nice meat and watching a movie. It’s cozy.”
5. GIVE HER A HUG
“Every woman wants a man who knows how women work. We go through stages and a certain guys can’t handle it if we have mood swings. There’s another type of a man who knows exactly what’s going on and will just give you a hug. That’s all we want sometimes: a hug and for him to say, ‘It’s going to be okay, sweetie.’”
6. READ HER MOOD
“Often if women want something, they won’t directly ask for it. If you’re feeling needy that day, say, and you want a bit of attention and TLC and love from your guy, you might now show it outwardly. You want someone who’s going to read that need.”
Men’s Health Magazine, 2008.