The NBC TV series "Chuck" is back after a few weeks off during the Vancouver Winter Olympics. The break gave the rabid fans of the geek chic action-comedy a chance to recover from the 3-D season premiere in January. Season 3 of the show is in full swing, with no word yet on the fate of the series. But fans and cast members are optimistic that with the support garnered during the last "Save Chuck" letter writing campaign, and five new slots recently opened up on the NBC programming slate, "Chuck" should be safe from cancellation.
Zachary Levi and Joshua Gomez, stars of the series, sat down for a conference call interview and talked about their characters, their cast mates, and what's in store for the future.
Q: The relationship between Morgan and Chuck continues to mature every season of the show. How do you see the maturity level of the relationship going forward?
JOSHUA: I think that because both characters have matured, their relationship obviously has reflected that a bit. But in a way I think they have to go further apart before they come back together.
JOSHUA: I think that Morgan and Chuck have both in parallel ways mirrored each other throughout these three seasons. They both have matured. They both have become different people from where we started. You look back at that and you go, "wow I was eating garbage out of a refrigerator in the break room and now I still do that, but less." [Chuck has] obviously come a long, long way. So, I think their relationship reflects that. They're sort of different men now. But that also saddens me. I miss the old Chuck and Morgan sometimes.
Q: Josh, can you talk a little bit about Morgan's growth especially this season; how do you feel about what he's had to deal with so far and what's coming up?
JOSHUA: I think like with any character to start at one place and get to another is part of the whole fun factor of doing this job and exploration and discovering… When I first read this script, the show was pretty black and white for me. So you start at that place like a pretty good foundation. And then slowly but surely you go "where else can this thing go?" I can't just keep doing the same thing. If there was one area of improvement in Morgan it was definitely a maturity level or just growing up.
Q: At the end of the last episode clearly Morgan was very heartbroken. From your perspective was he more heartbroken that Chuck once again gets the beautiful girl and Morgan gets left with nothing or because once again Chuck was ditching Morgan for a girl?
JOSHUA: No I think in a way it was neither because Chuck and Morgan actually never spoke about Hannah to each other. In a funny way I think Morgan [was] secretly pining over her but I don't think Chuck really knew. And Morgan didn't know that Chuck was hanging out with her. So I think it was more of a shock of "[I] didn't know that was going on." And then just heartbreak and disappointment just because I couldn't have her, not who got her; that's kind of how I thought about it. But, maybe secretly I hate him too. It was just a bummer. It was like oh man new hot girl at the store and I think I impressed her with all my French cinema references and then I wore an ascot and the whole deal and then nothing, nothing, you know. It's a bummer.
Q: As this season progresses are we going to see Chuck go darker as he goes further into his spy training?
ZACHARY: I don't necessarily think that you'll see him go darker. I know that there was a lot of hubbub on boards and stuff about "Hey I don't like this new Chuck, he's dark" and whatnot. But to me I don't see it as being darker I just see it as a natural progression of a character, of someone who gets deeper into this world of espionage and is trying to do the best that he can and learn and grow as a spy. Which may lead to things that are darker than the normal Chuck that we've come to know. But, no I don't necessarily think he gets darker I just think every episode is an opportunity for a new shade or a new color or a new flavor and that's what we saw in Chuck versus the nacho sampler and him learning a very valuable lesson and then proceeding to drink that pain away.
Q: Now that Morgan is onto Chuck and Hannah's relationship and he's now the assistant of the Buy More, how is that going to affect Chuck's working life at the Buy More?
ZACHARY: Well how does it affect Chuck's work? Well it does but I'm also unaware of his cluing into my life a little bit more. You know, I’m unaware of his... suspicions. And so it doesn't necessarily affect me all that much. But you'll see how it progresses and affects both Morgan's character and my character and my ability to sneak out the way that I always do. I'm surprised it's taken this long to be honest. How do I keep leaving the Buy More and never come back with really any results? I don't think I've sold or fixed anything in three years.
Q: Is Morgan going to try to make Chuck's life worse now that he knows?
JOSHUA: I don't think Morgan would be capable. I think that it's an honest true friendship. I think it's always been a thing of "talk to me dude" and... Chuck's wanting to do nothing more than talk to Morgan. If there was a person that would understand, Chuck realizes it would be Morgan. Not that he wouldn't be maybe a liability to the world's safety but I just mean as a friends goes I don't think it's in Morgan's nature to do anything that would cause direct hurt to his friend or anything malicious.
Q: Have you read this season's finale and if you have, does it leave us on a huge cliffhanger or does it tie things up just in case the unthinkable should happen?
ZACHARY: We haven't actually gotten it yet. We haven't read it so I have no idea. But I would imagine it's going to accomplish both. It will wrap things up in a way that you feel some kind of closure in the off chance that we don't come back for another season but also leave it open to whatever the possibilities for another season would be. I know that that's always the way, the smart way to do things with a show like ours that has again a really rabid and devoted and fantastic fan base. But television is a fickle game and you never really know how things work out. I feel pretty good about what our chances would be for another season given all the circumstances of where we're at as a show, where NBC is at as a network, and where the five new hours of programming have opened up. And so I feel like we could have a place there.
Q: Can you say anything about Emmett's death from the beginning of the season since that was so abrupt or is that kind of just wrapped up now?
ZACHARY: You know what I will say this, yes, it was abrupt, albeit kind of cool, you know... very shocking and certainly started the season off letting everyone know there's going to be some gnarly stuff that happens. But it was unfortunate in many ways. Tony Hale is - I feel like I say the same thing about everybody who's on the show - and it feels like when you say it about everybody maybe you don't mean it about anyone. But I truly do and Tony Hale is wicked talented. So smart, so funny, such a sweetheart, was a pleasure to have him on the show and was really a bummer to see him shot.
We found ourselves in a place, with the show where coming back by the skin of our teeth, we didn't have all the resources in the world to keep the show going the way that it was going as far as monetarily being able to keep everyone around and we have a lot of cast members and a lot of people to service. And so I'm not sure all of the things that went into ultimately the decision of having Emmett go bye-bye. But I do believe that Josh and Chris and our other writers handled it in a really good way. And I know that Tony enjoyed his time with us and I hope he gets to come back and play Emmett's twin brother or something. Or maybe Emmett's not really dead, you know, you never know.
JOSHUA: The shower scene. He comes out of the shower like "Dallas"… It was all a dream.
Q: Zach, this next batch of episodes has your "Chuck" directorial debut. Can you talk about that experience?
ZACHARY: One of the perks of it was that I got all of our regulars. I got everyone in the cast in my episode. Other times there are episodes where you're missing a face here or there, but in this one I got everyone… Casey and Sarah and good old Morgan Grimes...
JOSHUA: Yeah, Grimeys...
ZACHARY: And big Mike and Jeff and Lester and Ellie. Awesome... to be able to work with everyone and really feel supported by everyone. Not once did I feel like it was a strange or uncomfortable or awkward situation. I think part of that just had to do with the fact that I get to work with these guys all the time and I know them to know their characters inside and out better than anyone else does.
So you don't really have to say much just kind of let them do what they do and they do it so well. And I would only come in if there was like a pacing thing, if it was a timing thing, maybe there was a slightly different way to attack a moment. But everyone brings their A-game all the time, that's why I love them and respect them so much.
And the crew as well, the crew was so supportive and believed in me. And we collectively did what we always set out to do which is make a great episode of television. And I feel really strong about that. I'm really looking forward to everyone being able to see it and hearing feedback on it.
Q: How do you and your characters react with Adam Baldwin and his character?
JOSHUA: He's a big sweetheart.
ZACHARY: Yeah, he's a giant teddy bear.
JOSHUA: I always feel bad talking about it because I think he might want to retain that image.
ZACHARY: The man is a rock. Of everyone on our show he's the rock. He's been around the block... multiple times and seen a lot and worked with a lot of incredibly talented people. He's such a trooper and he finds every little moment to make Casey great. Part of the reason why we've found the audience that we have and the success to whatever extent that we have right now, a large part of that is due to him and being a part of Firefly and everything else that he's done and having really dedicated fans that he's also very dedicated too.
JOSHUA: I think he's an absolute sweetheart. It's just so much. I love getting Adam Baldwin to crack in a scene. Me and Zach will laugh at each other and we don't say anything, we're just a bunch of girls. Like we're just like two silly girls at a sleepover. With Adam, he's knocking down walls and he's knocking people out… so to make him laugh in the middle of a scene just gives me such satisfaction. Or doing something to get Adam after the scene - he'll hold it together and then it'll cut, and he'll go "that was hysterical." He's a smart guy and he's just an absolute pleasure to work with.
Q: NBC confirmed that Scott Bakula would be around for one of the later episodes of the season. Is there anything you can say about what he's doing?
JOSHUA: He's doing awesome work I can tell you that much. Get Scotty Bak.
ZACHARY: He really is doing fantastic work. I can't even tell you how much I love Scotty Bak. That guy is not only super talented but he is so fun. We'll just break into song or do funny voices but he's such a pro like just like to a T. Always on his moments, always diving into this character, Steven Bartowski who is very odd and kitschy and quirky and brilliant and he brings it every time, every scene and it's such a pleasure to work opposite him. Josh gets to work with him as well so it's nice when you have a guest star that kind of traverses both the spy and personal life.