2010: Chicago Now


‘Shippers are singing the praises of the new season of “Chuck” now that Sarah and Chuck are in love, living together and teaming up for missions. Yvonne Strahovski likes playing Sarah as Chuck’s partner in both love and spying, too.

There is just more fun to be had, I think, as a couple, sort of like a fun version of ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’ in a way,” Strahovski told me on the phone recently.

We didn’t get to talk for long, but Strahovski, an Aussie of Polish descent who now lives in the U.S., was delightful considering she was in the midst of a 15-hour shooting day. We talked about geeking out over “Project Runway,” if Sarah Walker could kick Sarah Connor’s butt and, speaking of butts, the craziest place to hide a weapon.

Hi Yvonne. How’s it going? Sounds like you are having a long day.
It’s good. It’s good. You know–another day, another 15-hour day.

First off, I need to clear something up. When they pitched this interview they wrote in the email “things are heating up” between you and Zachary Levi. What does that mean? Do they mean the characters or you two? They giving me some romance scoop?
Oh, God no. [Laughs.] Yes, we’ve announced marriage. [Laughs.] No, no no no–the characters! Yeah, things are getting heated in more ways than one because now we’re a couple. We’re boyfriend and girlfriend. We’re living together. We’re going through all the couple drama that one would expect a new couple to go through, so there are the things that we explore with that.

Will Chuck and Sarah be asking Ellie and Awesome for advice?
I don’t know if Sarah would be open to that. [Laughs.] It’s funny, because I think my character likes being part of a relationship. Obviously she loves Chuck a lot and she likes having him as her boyfriend, but at the same time it’s such new territory for her because he is such an innocent guy still and he is not like the other men that she’s been with who have all been spies. To her this is a far more normal relationship and she is a little bit of a fish out of water in some ways, so I think they’re sort of discovering their needs and wants and that maybe some of their needs and wants are different from the other. It makes for some good drama.

Last season when you two were split up there was a lot of fan uproar. I wasn’t one of the fans who was totally freaking out, but I do like it better when Sarah and Chuck are together. How do you feel about that?
I like Chuck and Sarah together. I think there is more fun to be had with that and also, like you said, all the fans want them together more so than apart. There was a big uproar when we had Daniel Shaw come in and threaten to take Sarah away from Chuck for good. … I get to be closer to more of the fun stuff on the show. I’ve always been part of the serious stuff and the spy stuff and I feel like now that Chuck and Sarah are together I’m seeing the scripts come in and I’m getting to play around with the fun things, like the whole sexting thing that was going on in the first episode with Morgan and even in one of the episodes last season where Chuck and Sarah were together on the mission in Europe on the train and we played that southern couple.

Right, exactly. So you guys will be paired up a lot this season on missions?
We do a bit of that. Morgan comes along for the ride sometimes, because he is sort of getting involved in the spy world, so it’s quite a different dynamic than what it used to be. It’s almost like Sarah no longer needs to protect Chuck as much as she used to now that he is getting to used to having the Intersect in his head and he can do all this kung fu stuff by himself. You know I think she cares for him deeply and that is more where the protection comes from now.

I understand the idea to go to the Milan fashion shows for “Chuck Versus the Suitcase” was your idea.
Where did you hear that?

I read it somewhere.
I went up to Chris Fedak at some point [with the idea]. I think it was in the first season, maybe the second season and I said we should have an episode in Milan at fashion week. I thought it was such a great concept to have Chuck in amongst models. … I don’t know if they remembered that I said that when they wrote the episode, so I don’t know if I should take credit for the idea as much as I want to totally take credit for the idea.

Oh I think you should take credit!
I definitely had the idea a long time ago. I don’t know if they remember.

The fight scene with you and Karolina Kurkova is pretty awesome.
Some of the producers and writers have said it’s one of the best ones yet.

Do you like doing the stunts and fights?
I love it. It’s one of my favorite parts of doing the show. I love doing all of it.

Did you train special for the show or were you pretty athletic and ready to go?
I’m a tomboy and I’ve always been very athletic and I think it’s just part of the reason why I got the job. I have a dance background. I danced from the age of 5 to 18, so for me the scenes are very much choreography. They’re almost like a dance, so it’s easy for me to remember them and I remember them quickly. I did in the first season have our fight coordinator Dave teach me some kung fu stuff, so that my movements were stronger, punchier and actually more martial arts. That was beneficial. I don’t really need to do any of that anymore; plus we don’t have the time now. We sort of learn a fight scene in five minutes and then sleep on it and then the next day we’re shooting it.

Is there a stunt that you want to do that you haven’t been able to do yet?
Hmm, I know we’ve done like a couple of like little bits and pieces in different languages, but I’d love to have a proper scene in Italian or in French or something. That would be really, really cool.

And not Polish?
Well Polish is easy because I can speak it already. I want the challenge **** and of course I love the challenge.

I’ve got a few silly questions. Are you ready for the silly?
No. [Laughs.]

What is the most awkward or naughtiest place to hide a weapon?
To hide a weapon? I don’t know. I guess you could say a knife in the butt crack.

They haven’t made you do that yet, have they?
No, but I have a running joke on set … because they make me wear so many skimpy outfits and then this weapon appears out of nowhere. I’m always saying that it came from my butt crack.

Right, well that was another question. Do you think real female spies fight in such skimpy clothes?
Yeah, I think it would be a little more practical. I think my high heels would be a third of the height and the mini skirt would be not so mini.

In one of the promos, Sarah and Mrs. Bartowski face off with guns pointed at each other. Who would win in that battle?
I don’t know. You’ll have to wait and see.

Is there going to be a battle? I didn’t figure there would actually be a battle.
Well, no, but it’s a bit of a gun showdown, a faceoff in a way.

Oh good, but we have to wait for it.

Would your Sarah kick Sarah Connor’s butt?
Oh, gosh [laughs], I’m going to let the fans answer that question. [Laughs.]

All right, all right. I’ll let you off the hook. Have you ever used a real-life alias?
A different name? I have on occasion, yeah, [laughs], to check into a hotel or something, yeah.

What is the craziest one you’ve used, or do you still use it and you can’t say?
[Laughs.] They’re not really crazy. They’re kind of boring.

Ok, back to the serious stuff. Are we going to more of a Sarah’s backstory this season?
I’m not sure. We’re shooting Episode 7 right now and we haven’t really explored Sarah’s background yet, but you never know. It might come around.

Is it fun working with Bonita Friedericy so much more?
It’s so much nicer having her physically there rather than being on the TV monitor. I’m sure it’s nicer for her as well because she actually gets to interact with real actors as opposed to just a camera.

Zach and Josh have talked a lot about how they’re sort of geeks just like their characters. What makes you geek out?
What makes me geek out? Ummm, “Project Runway.” [Laughs.] I’m obsessed with “Project Runway,” does that classify?

Oh yeah. How obsessed are you?
Well I just love the show. I love it. I love design first of all, so I am very interested in it and I just love seeing what these guys come up with when they have a challenge. I love that stuff.

What kind of kid were you growing up?
I was a lanky and goofy show off in front of the home video camera all the time. That was my thing.

So always an actor, huh?
Yeah, pretty much, yeah.

And what kind of things did you do?
I used to make my friends come over after school and we would make up sketch comedies or impersonate funny and stupid television commercials and we’d write our own mock documentaries. We did everything. We’d do video clips. My mom used to film everything and we still have the tapes. What else? Just stupid things and they’re really funny, watching them now–funny and embarrassing.

Are we ever going to see them on YouTube?
Oh no, I’d never… [Laughs.] That’s never going to happen.

Oh you should. I bet fans would love it. You filmed “The Killer Elite” with Robert DeNiro this summer.
I did. I’m actually heading back to set. They’ve just told me I’ve only got 30 seconds before they make me get off the phone, but I can tell you about “The Killer Elite.” What do you want to know? [Laughs.]

What surprised you about DeNiro?
I guess it didn’t come as a surprise that he was just as nice and as professional as I thought he would be. He is very cool, calm and collected and relaxed and a little bit shy actually. That was a little bit of a surprise. [He’s] just a great man and a great actor, of course, and I just felt so honored to be able to work with him.

Great, well last question from Twitter. Did you do voice work for a PG&E commercial?
Oh that’s such a good catch. I did. Wow.

Chicago Now, 2010.