No stranger to pilot season, Zachary Levi had waded through that pond and come home soaked in rejection and unemployed. Then Chuck arrived. The title character proved to be the match made in heaven that Levi needed to send his career to the stratosphere.
“Less Than Perfect” starring Sara Rue and Andy Dick. After 79 episodes, the show was cancelled. Not a bad run, but syndication rights truly arrive after 100 shows have been shot.
Alas, disappointment is a well–documented aspect of any thespian’s life. Having a show become an enormous hit as a strike halts production, for Levi, is merely another chapter in the
difficult book of making it in Hollywood.
About the new show
“Chuck” is the story of Chuck Bartowski, a mild-mannered computer aficionado with an affinity for the geekier elements of life. One of these techie quests makes him a target for hostile
global interests. When CIA agent Sarah Walker, a former college friend, arrives the NBC hit takes off as Chuck evolves into more James Bond than Stephen Hawking. Along for the ride are costars Adam
Baldwin and Yvonne Strahovski. The latter also proves to be a love interest for Chuck as well as his secret agent mentor.
As “Chuck” visited NBC for its final two episodes January 24 to close its strike-shortened season, Levi sat down with SheKnows to talk about his hit show and the emotions surrounding
riding a wave of popular culture success only to have a labor dispute crash the ride.
We spoke last week – about ‘Spiral’ along with his writer-director good friend, Joel David Moore — but we caught up with the man again about his TV show, “Chuck.”
SK: The show has been on a hiatus– how does it feel to have “Chuck” once again invade America’s living rooms and give your fans a few shows before the season
we’re able to give people a little something to tide them over until the strike is over. It’s nice to have a little bit to chew on and to remind people that we’re still there.
Especially for the fans that have been so supportive.
You know, these are tough times, especially for a new show. I have a good peace about it. It’s obviously not ideal to have the whole business shut down as you’re just getting going, but
stranger things have happened. I have to believe that whatever is going to be is going to be and in the meantime to have a couple of new episodes for everyone, it’s fun and we’re really
proud of them, too. There’s a lot of funny and action in both episodes. I think people will really dig it. There’s also a lot of fun back-story on Adam Baldwin’s character,
SK: And what has it been like working with him on the set? He’s a true veteran.
ZL: He’s incredible. He’s one of those guys who has been around the block a half a dozen times with huge names. Not the least being Stanley Kubrick in “Full Metal Jacket.”
It’s pretty crazy to have him be a friend and a co-worker and he’s been so supportive throughout the entire process and just a rock. He’s our dad, our rock. He’s so seasoned
and he knows what he’s doing. He’s really cool and a family guy. A great dude, all the way around, it’s an honor to work with him.
SK: Did you, while toiling in Los Angeles theater, have the pleasure of enjoying the rollercoaster known as pilot season?
ZL: Oh, yeah. I’ve been doing pilot season for the last nine years. Every year I wasn’t on a show, I got a pilot. They don’t always pan out. The first couple of years, I did
pilots for NBC, oddly enough. Then I did the pilot for ‘Less Than Perfect’ the third year and we got picked up and ran for four years. Then I did a few pilots after that that
didn’t go anywhere. Then, ‘Chuck,’ it’s really only the second pilot I’ve ever done that’s gotten picked up – which is crazy. It’s a great one to get
picked up. It’s the greatest job I’ve ever had.
SK: I would think it is and ‘Less Than Perfect’ was such a great show. But “Chuck” is so different. “Less Than Perfect” was an ensemble, and for you
as the focal point of “Chuck,” that’s got to be great for you as an actor.
ZL: Most definitely. ‘Less Than Perfect’ was a lot of fun and it was a great cushy schedule. It’s easy in a lot of respects. In ‘Chuck,’ I work 14 hours days, average.
With ‘Less Than Perfect’ you work a fraction of that. The great thing about ‘Chuck’ is I get to be the title character and it’s a show that is really dynamic that
wears a lot of hats. As the character Chuck, I get to wear a lot of hats. Action, drama, comedy, romance, suspense, whatever it is, we run the gamut when it comes to genre. That is really fun as an
actor. It’s a dream scenario because you never want to be typecast and to play a role like this allows me to flex as many acting muscles as I have.
SK: It seems the character, Chuck, someone we’ve only seen for thirteen episodes, possesses countless avenues he may travel.
ZL: It’s incredible. At the end of the day you’re still making a predominately procedural hour drama. But you have plenty of shows that have so much mythos in them and getting
back-story in the characters. Like one of my favorite shows: ‘Lost.’ I love how much mythology there is with the back-story of the characters. How their lives cross. The more we get to
do that on ‘Chuck,’ I feel we can really dig our teeth in and bite into it and give that to the audience. Give them a world to be a part of.
SK: Knowing that the strike was looming, then it hit, was it easier for you considering the success to be able to handle the break in the work knowing NBC picked you up for a second
ZL: Most definitely, it’s always easier to handle a work stoppage when you know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If we had to go into the strike not knowing if we were going to
be coming back for as second season that would have been daunting. But knowing that NBC and Warner Brothers had picked us up certainly dulled that blow. It’s not an ideal situation.
Stay tuned to SheKnows for our interview with Levi and Moore as they wax about their work on the theatrical release, “Spiral.” Also starring Amber Tamblyn, watch
for the Entertainment Channel’s full review and accompanying Q n’ A with the creative minds and stars in this upcoming psychological thriller.