Yvonne Strahovski on Killer Elite, Her Comedy Debut With Seth Rogen and a Baby For Chuck
Over the past four years, Yvonne Strahovski has acquainted herself with television audiences as CIA agent Sarah Walker on NBC's fast-paced, quick-witted spy series Chuck. Now, as the beloved comedy-drama gears up for its fifth and final season, the Australian actress is making her big-budget box office debut in Gary McKendry's action film Killer Elite which pits a retired British Special Air Service member (Jason Statham) against a violent hit squad. As Statham's onscreen girlfriend, Strahovski gets to retain her Aussie accent, stay away from the testosterone-fueled violence and share coffee with Robert De Niro.
In anticipation of Killer Elite's release this Friday, Strahovski phoned Movieline to discuss this welcome change of pace, her upcoming comedy debut opposite Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand and the possibility that she and Chuck will conceive before the series ends.
What drew you to this role?
Well, I got the script, and I really enjoyed reading it. And I liked the idea that there was this love story embedded in the script that made it deeper than the average action thriller. It's not so much about just having the token girl in a movie as much as it is a love story. It's the heart of the film. A bonus for me was also that I got to be Australian because so often I am playing American characters. It was nice for me to get back to my own roots by doing this character and also to film in Australia.
How close were you filming to your home?
We filmed in Melbourne, and I'm from Sydney originally -- which is north of Melbourne. We shot in the Yarra Valley, which is the countryside out there. And it was just gorgeous. That's one of the things I miss most about Australia -- the countryside. Filming this was very therapeutic for me almost.
No offense to Zach Levi, but this is really your first time working with an action star. How was it filming scenes with Jason Statham?
He's such a great guy, you know? He really made it easy for us all. He's got a wonderful personality. He's really energetic and intense and very focused. We got along immediately and we had a blast together.
At what point did you two meet?
After I had gotten the script and the director had seen me, Jason and I had a meeting to see how we got along.
How does that work? Do you get together for coffee, or do you meet in a casting studio to read lines?
We met and had lunch and just got to know each other really. And we got along well, fortunately, which is why I'm here now!
Was it frustrating that you did not get to participate in much of the action in Killer Elite or was that a relief after taking part in so much of the action on Chuck?
You know, it was mostly a really good break. I really enjoyed changing it up and I got to play a few different characters in the last few years. There was a small part of me, though, that was slightly jealous that I didn't get to kick any ass like I usually do on Chuck.
But you did get to film a 1:1 scene with Robert De Niro. Can you describe your experience that day on set?
I was like a kid in a candy store. You couldn't wipe the grin off of my face. It was really one of the most exciting moments that I've had in my career so far. It's one of those things you wish for down the line -- to work with one of the greats -- and I feel really lucky that I got to do it. He's such a sweetheart and really low key. He made me feel comfortable in spite of the fact that it was such an overwhelming experience for me at the time.
Was there anything that you picked up from working with him that day?
Well, it was really nice to watch him work and see him take his time with the scene. He's just so comfortable with what he does because he has been doing it for so long, obviously. It was nice to remind myself of that -- that you can sort of just be really in tune with yourself because there is so much stuff going on on set. So many people are talking to you -- directors, make-up, hair and wardrobe. It was nice to see him be able to look past that and just be focused on the task at hand.
As you mentioned earlier, you don't really get to kick any ass in Killer Elite, but you do play a very self-sufficient female character -- which is also what you play on Chuck. It's certainly not a bad type of role to be playing, but do you feel like you have been pigeonholed at all?
I don't know. It must just be something about me [that makes me right for] these roles? It's nice to know that they are writing strong female roles out there, and it's nice to know that I can play some of them. I do want to do something a little more vulnerable one day and see how that goes. For now, I guess that's what people see me in, so I'll take it.
Speaking of branching out into different directions, you're also in the upcoming comedy My Mother's Curse with Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand.
Yeah! That movie is going to be great.
What kind of character do you play?
I think she's probably the sweetest character I've ever played. She is normal and very girl-next-store. I play Seth's ex-girlfriend in the movie -- his high school sweetheart that he is pining over later in life.
What was your experience like filming?
It's really nice to change it up and be part of a comedy. And of course, working with Barbra and Seth was amazing. They make such a great duo together.
And to talk about Chuck for a moment, your character and Chuck are finally married. How do you think this is going to change the dynamic of the show?
It's a lot of fun. We've got our own sort of spy company right now. And it's almost like Chuck and I are married and we have this man-child Morgan, because he now has the Intersect in his head and we have to take care of him. You know, times have changed, but it's still a lot of fun and sexy as well. We haven't lost that spark.
There is a history of television series jumping the shark when the main character finally gets together with his love interest. Were you ever worried that Sarah and Chuck's marriage would be the moment that fans lose interest in the show?
No, this has opened up a Mr. & Mrs. Smith-esque vibe now that we are married. I think we are going to have just as many people watching the show. [The marriage] was something that fans were really rooting for. When we did have love triangles on the show, we did get a lot of e-mails from disturbed fans saying, "What is going on?! We just want Chuck and Sarah to be together." I feel like we've been so incredibly loyal to the fans, and especially because we're listening to their feedback, they will enjoy [this season] as much if not more than any other season.
It is too early for fans to start looking forward to a baby for Chuck and Sarah?
I'm not sure! I've often wondered if that is how we will finish up the series.
Well, maybe if the fans e-mail...
You never know.