Chuck
The Phil Klemmer Interview

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"Mr. And Mrs. Smith Meets The Office"

PK: Well, I mean, we would still get to go along for sessions…we'd audition people in Los Angeles, so on our own episodes we'd get to go along for that. But, you know, you're not casting somebody until your script is…not locked, but there's a production draft out, so you're not able to hugely write to their strengths and weaknesses. The thing that happens more often is that somebody shows up and does something extraordinary -- that's the sort of Ryan Hansen model.

CB: Sure, and I'm talking more with recurring characters.

PK: Yeah…it's weird working on Episode 5 of Chuck where you really haven't seen your cast of characters interact outside of the pilot, you don't really know people's strengths and dynamics that you enjoy.

CB: Sure, it seems very abstract -- I'd imagine it's a lot easier once you can match a face to the name. But I guess you do your best until you get to see dailies and episodes and things take shape in your mind.

PK: Right. And there are simple things that you wouldn't even think of -- having never been on the set before, if you've never been to Chuck's bedroom or workstation, you write these little things like, say, a walk and talk of two people going down the hallway, and then you show up to the set and realize it's totally uncinematic or it's boring or it would work better here. I think once you get the chance to see what works and doesn't work, it's a lot easier. I sort of burdened Production with my first script before I knew actors or standing sets or what tended to work or not work, and you sort of hand them your little wish list of what you'd like to see, and then they just have to sort of deal with all the problems. But figuring out these problems is part of the fun of having a new show.

CB: So when you see the final version of the episode, does that help you see what you wrote in a new light? Or, to put it another way, do you find that a useful tool for developing your game, so to speak?

PK: I…guess so. It's pretty hard, it just goes through so many phases.

CB: Sure, and obviously, everything you see on screen is not your doing as a writer. But at the same time, seeing what happened from script to screen, you might be like, "Oh, next time if I do this, that's what it will look like." But maybe not?

PK: It's really hard. By the time it's aired, it's hard not to concentrate on the battles you've lost. Obviously I'm talking about Veronica Mars now, but it's really difficult not to get fixated and have this microscopic vision of things that you wish were better. The best thing would probably be to go back and watch it now, so you're not just sort of waiting for the thing that rubs you the wrong way. [laughs]

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Chuck

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