Ryan McPartlin on Infiltrating Chuck's Spy World and Betty Draper's Panties
As far as character names go, there is no cooler moniker on television than Captain Awesome. And Ryan McPartlin is still listing the credit on his IMDB page three seasons after winning the role on NBC's cult-favorite Chuck, which fans have famously refused to let be canceled. Believe it or not, Captain Awesome started out as a peripheral character -- the all-too-perfect boyfriend of Chuck's sister -- and now three years later, McPartlin's character has become the first person in Chuck's inner circle to infiltrate the spy world. To McPartlin, a modest former Abercrombie model from Chicago, the character's growing arc was more a result of luck than talent -- but there are a few Captain Awesome fans out there who might disagree.
Movieline caught up with the Chuck star recently to discuss a huge upcoming twist on the series, what it was like to pull down Betty Draper's panties and the embarrassing role he passed up while nearly $20,000 in debt.
So what's the feeling among Chuck cast and crew halfway through the show's third season?
Let's go with cautiously optimistic. I mean, as everyone knows, NBC has had its struggles but Chuck is third place on the network. Not that that's saying a whole lot but I think if NBC is looking to solidify their brand long-term, we all feel like Chuck is a good way to do it. NBC has gotten so much negative press with the whole Jay Leno fallout -- the last thing they need are Chuck fans up in arms.
Right, that would not be a smart move. Have you found yourself going to Subway more since the chain's campaign to save Chuck last season?
I did when it first happened but I haven't seen a whole lot of Subways lately. It's funny, I thought it was going to be such a big part of the show since they supported Chuck and I know that Subway still does some advertising on the show but I thought it would be to a larger extent.
How did you first hear about the role of Captain Awesome?
[The producers] saw a bunch of guys before me and they didn't find what they were looking for. My agent called me on a Friday and said "Listen, there is this role called Captain Awesome." I never really auditioned on weekends but I said, "Whatever, I'll do it. I need a job." Now, it seems funny because it was such a small role in the pilot. I didn't think there would be a whole lot to the character so I was still looking for other jobs even after we did the pilot not knowing what could become of it.
It's pretty amazing three years later to see what's developed over that time. If nothing else happens, if we don't get a fourth season, I've really enjoyed what's happened thus far. It's way more than I ever expected. I'll be forever grateful to Captain Awesome.
Have you sprung for the Captain Awesome vanity license plate or tattoo yet?
[Laughs] No. I hear the word "Awesome" so much at work -- I wish they could just give him a normal nickname like "John." But Captain Awesome is bringing home the bacon for now so it's fine.
Why do you think the writers chose your character to go into the spy world?
I think maybe because that is the last character the audience would expect to join Chuck. Plus, it's funny to see Captain Awesome lose his sh*t. The guy was so put together. I think most viewers thought it would have been Morgan (Joshua Gomez) since he was more of Chuck's confidante. Whereas my character, who was good at everything he tried until that point, finally found something that he couldn't handle: the spy world. I was flattered and very grateful to the writers.
This season you've gotten to try out a lot of stunts. What is the most difficult move so far?
Well, the hardest thing to make look easy onscreen is the upside down sit-ups they have me do. Those are ridiculously hard and I can barely do three in a row. And the director wants a few different takes and shots from different angles. It is torture, but I've been going to the gym so they are starting to become a little easier.
If the show continues for a fourth season -- which it seems like it will -- do you think writers will pull another core character into the spy world?
Yes, I can't reveal anything but I think it's definitely headed that way. I think that it only makes sense because they've been raising the bar with Chuck every year. It's a tough job for the writers because they have to give the audience even better and more exciting material each season. And so far they've been able to pull it off. We haven't read the last script for this season yet. I am really really excited to see how this season ends up and how they raise the bar if there is a fourth season. There is going to be that relief and happiness and then probably a moment of "Oh sh*t," where the writers have to figure out how to raise the bar and reinvent the show again.
Had you met January Jones before shooting the second season finale of Mad Men? I know you guys were both Abercrombie models before acting.
That's so funny. I didn't know we were both Abercrombie models until you just told me that.
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