Nicole Richie guest stars on Chuck

Back in July, it was reported that Nicole Richie, who previously guested on Chuck in 2008, would be returning to NBC’s Chuck for her second episode as Heather Chandler, series regular Sarah Lancaster’s (Yvonne Strahovski) high school nemesis-turned-assassin. Richie’s heavily promoted episode airs October 4.

Nicole Richie on Chuck

“Nicole is a fun and formidable nemesis,” Chuck star Strahovski told Us Weekly. “I was impressed at how quickly she picked up the fight sequence this time around. It’s more technical than our last one and apparently her kickboxing has paid off — she’s pretty badass!”

Richie’s return to the NBC series is another impressive line in a resume that moves from Paris Hilton’s reality show sidekick to author and designer.

While her former cohorts, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton are hanging in the hoosegow and battling drug issues, Richie is a successful and happy working mother of two with an accessory line, House of Harlow 1960, which won her recognition by Glamour magazine as 2010’s Entrepreneur of the Year.

But it hasn’t been the easiest, smoothest road. Nicole dealt with serious eating issues, reportedly instigated by her skeletal stylist Rachel Zoe, back in 2006, battled heroin addiction as a teen and was arrested in 2003 and 2006 for driving under the influence (DUI).

Today, Nicole Richie is smarter, more grounded and has a good head on her shoulders.

Unlike her contemporaries, who can’t seem to get themselves together (paging Lohan), Nicole got her partying out of the way, hooked up with a solid man, Good Charlotte’s Joel Madden, and settled down. Instead of a cautionary tale, she’s a Hollywood success story.

Nicole Richie in Chuck

Richie’s Chuck episode also guest stars Steve Austin and Stacy Keibler where Heather’s (Richie) allies attempt to bust her out of the Castle (the underground base of the CIA on the show). Chuck airs tonight at 8 p.m. on NBC.