New episodes of Chuck are nearly here. If you are a fan like me, then you know how very exciting this news is, since the show was saved from near cancellation by wonderfully devoted fanatics who started eating Subway sandwiches to show their support. The news that it is back is even more exciting given that the show ended on a massive cliffhanger, where our favorite little neighborhood nerd uploaded an even more powerful version of the intersect into his brain and earned some kickass kung-fu moves for his troubles. So I'm anxiously anticipating this new season, and when I got the chance to chat with the show's star for a few minutes during the middle of a packed media day, I was thrilled. Hey, seven minutes is better than nothing! Here's our brief (albeit random) conversation.
TWoP: I'm sure you've been asked the same questions all day, I hope not to bore you.
Zachary Levi: It's OK, I try to work different code words into each one. This one actually has two code words. It's sea cucumber. So if and when somebody says today's magic word you've got to scream real loud. Just like...
Both: Pee-Wee's Playhouse.
ZL: [Laughs] There are like 20 people in the NBC Experience store just looking at me like, "What is this guy doing right now? All I want is a Today show mug."
TWoP: So Chuck has all these special skills now, how hard has the training been?
ZL: I wish I could say that I did a lot of training in the off season, but I didn't. I didn't really know how much of this martial arts stuff I'd be doing, but I'm fortunate that I can pick up fight choreography pretty quickly. The battle for me is just making it look good. I'm a long, lean guy, so a punch is like a wet noodle sometimes. It's tough to bring all that in and look like Jason Bourne. But fortunately it can be a little funny and silly sometimes on the show... so that helps.
TWoP: You also have some dancing to do this season (and in seasons past). Is it harder to do that or the stunts?
ZL: No! [The dancing] is super-fun, I love it! I did a lot of musical theater growing up, so choreography ... And by the way, fight choreography is almost the same as dance choreography. You are moving your feet, moving your hands, it is all just about muscle memory and remembering where you are going and all of that. Doing a fight is cooler, I suppose, because you get to kick somebody's butt. But the dancing has been a lot of fun too. In an upcoming episode, it is the first dance I have of the season, but that is the third of the series, learning tango and salsa and different things. I get to look back one day, after how ever long we go and say, "wow, I got to learn a lot of cool things through that time." You don't often get that opportunity.
TWoP: And it will prepare you for if you ever do a guest role on 24 or Glee. Either way, you are set. ZL: Exactly.
TWoP: Are you excited to be wearing a bigger variety of clothes this season instead of being confined to the Buy More uniform?
ZL: Yeah, although, I've got to say, and it might sound weird, but I really like my Nerd Herd uniform. If you've got to wear one thing all of the time, it is a comfortable little deal. I finally got a lax enough look that I'm not killing my Adam's apple every time I button up. So we're good. I'm happy with it. But I will say that I am happy to be wearing some of the spy gear this season. Last year I got to wear it like twice at the end of the season. Now I get to go on more missions and be a little more cloak and dagger. Wearing a flak vest and using tranq guns... that's a lot of fun.
TWoP: A bit more like Casey's daily wardrobe.
ZL: A little bit.
TWoP: But you won't be serious like him, right?
ZL: No. No
TWoP: Because that's a concern, with your new skills that the show could turn into more of an Alias or something.
ZL: No, it can't be that! It's got to maintain the heart and the levity that it has always had.
TWoP: [SPOILER ALERT] In an early episode this season, we see that Morgan and Chuck become roommates. How's that going?
ZL: They do become roommates. A little bit of a Bert and Ernie. [In his best Ernie voice, which is pretty dead on] "Uh, hey Bert."
TWoP: Any great guest stars we can look forward to this season?
ZL: Brandon Routh is doing a huge arc on the show. Kristin Kreuk did three episodes and hopefully we will be able to get her back. I thought she was just delightful. And she's gorgeous! It's just ridiculous. Angie Harmon did an episode, Mini Anden, who played Carina in the first season is back for an episode. Vinnie Jones. Stone Cold Steve Austin... that was awesome! Armand Assante is in an episode. Just lots of great guest stars and really gracious people who just wanted to come and play in our sandbox for a little while.
TWoP: So exactly how many Subway sandwiches have you had to eat because of this campaign?
ZL: [Laughs] Not more than I usually have. But I usually have a good amount of Subway sandwiches. Why not eat fresh? That's what I say. In all the choices in fast food, there aren't a lot where you feel like you are eating something healthy. I've eaten Subway for a while and then it was fortunate that they were one of our sponsors and that was what I had to eat in order to support my own show. That was nice. If it was something artery clogging, that would probably not be the best message to be sending everybody.
TWoP: How has Chuck managed to keep his job at the Buy More? He occasionally quits or get fired, but always gets hired back.
ZL: Yeah, the government can pull a lot of strings... so that certainly helps with all that stuff.
TWoP: What from Chuck did you take to your role in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel?
ZL: [Laughs] Not much. They were similar because they were both video gamers... but I'm a video gamer, so I didn't have to bring Chuck there. I just brought myself there for that. And Toby in Chipmunks had not a great time in high school, a pretty horrible experience. My high school experience was pretty good, but my middle school experience was god awful. It was horrible. I got picked on like no tomorrow. I derived a little of that and put that in there.
TWoP: Every time I see interviews, or talk to someone from the cast, they always talk about how much fun working on the show is. Is it still that much fun after a few years?
ZL: Absolutely. I go to work and I love working with my cast and my crew. We have an incredibly special family. When you do a movie, you work for a couple of months and you are a little family for that time, but then everybody disbands and goes their own ways. In a TV show, you have this special opportunity, depending on how long or short your show goes... I can't even imagine the crew of Friends or Cheers. They saw people get married. They saw babies born. We are on our third season and we've seen a bit of that. I was just the best man in my prop master's wedding. He got married in Puerto Rico. I was the best man and he's one of my best buddies. It is a really incredibly special group of people and that keeps you coming back to work with a smile on your face.
TWoP: Anything else exciting going on with you?
ZL: Well Squeakquel, you mentioned that. I'm voicing the male lead in the animated Rapunzel that Disney is doing. Mandy Moore is Rapunzel and I'm the male lead. And it is a musical so I get to sing in it. I keep thinking about watching Aladdin when I was a kid, and going, "I get to do that now! I'm that guy!" Bucket list. Check it off.
TWoP: Oh, between that and Alvin and the Chipmunks, maybe I can get my kid to watch Chuck because she'll know you.
ZL: Maybe. I talk to a lot of families who all sit down and watch the show together. That's probably one of the coolest things that I hear.
See, short, but he was so sweet! Two episodes air on Sunday night on NBC starting at 8 PM and there's one more in its regular timeslot on Monday night at 8 PM. Set your DVRs now. And see why we don't really think Chuck is that big of a nerd.
MOST RECENT POSTS