The new season of Chuck is just around the corner (Jan. 10, 9/8c), so TVGuide.com hit the set of the NBC spy series to get the lowdown on what's ahead for the super-charged Chuck. Zachary Levi lounged with us between scenes in a new location that we cannot disclose, under threat of being relocated by the CIA. However, Levi was more than willing to dish on Chuck's new love interest, how the Intersect 2.0 works and what's ahead in the additional six episodes ordered by the peacock network.
1. TVGuide.com: Congratulations on the show coming back and also being picked up for additional episodes. What's the feeling like right now?
Zachary Levi: It's good. When we only had 13 episodes, it felt good then, too. There's so many things in this business that are outside of your control, and you just have to let go and let God, as they say. Cable does 13 episodes and I think 13 episodes is a great number to do. It allows you to really focus on them and make them all great, as opposed to a lot of times with a 22-episode schedule, you end up with a lot of filler episodes. I'm a Lost guy, I love Lost. There were a lot of episodes where you hope to get a little mythology and you hope to get answers and there's nothing resolved because they have to stretch it out. If they only had 13 episodes in the season then we'd get to the meat of it more.
NBC's Chuck returning on Jan. 10
2. TVGuide.com: How are the six additional episodes incorporated into the original 13?
Levi: We found out late about the six episode pickup, so the writers had already molded and created the 13-episode arc. We couldn't try to fit six episodes into that without screwing everything up, so now it's six episodes that stand on their own in a lot of ways. They'll still be coming off of and informed by these 13 episodes, but it won't be a part of the bigger arc. I know that it will be its own mini arc.
3. TVGuide.com: What do you know about the back six episodes?
Levi: This season we've gotten to do some international travel with the show, taking it out of the domestic United States of America; that's been fun. I think maybe we'll try and do more of that. I know that everyone will continue to progress with the characters and the relationships.
4. TVGuide.com: Was it a little bittersweet getting these back six episodes since you had to turn down your role in Thor?
Levi: Yeah, that was a bummer. There's no way to slice it. I am Chuck Bartowski in a lot of ways, so to be able to not only be up for a really big movie, but to be up for a really big movie that is a part of the Marvel Universe, that Kenneth Branagh is directing, that Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins are in, you dream about stuff like that. It sucked having to let that go, but again, that stuff is out of your hands. I believe that, based on what's happened, this is where God wants me so you let that go. I wish them nothing but the best. I'm sure Stuart Townsend will do a good job. Hopefully Marvel feels bad and are like. 'You should be Captain America!' or Bucky at the very least. It definitely was tough to let that go.
5. TVGuide.com: What is the arc of Chuck's journey this season?
Levi: He's been gearing up to be a spy for a couple of years. How they've set up this new season with Intersect 2.0 and how that works, I think, is a great concept. It's a little Neo-Matrix, especially with lines like "I know Kung-fu," but then again, our show is a lot of homages to a lot of movies.
NBC orders more Chuck
6. TVGuide.com: What do you say to fans who think the Intersect 2.0 version of Chuck will change the show?
Levi: People think it's not going to be the same show anymore with this kind of bumbling hero, but it is. Chuck is still a bumbling hero, but he's getting a little bit better. As an actor I love that because you get to actually be someone who evolves. I finally get to be a part of some of the action instead of sitting on the sidelines watching [Yvonne Strahovski] and [Adam Baldwin] have all the fun. The super-charged Chuck is not one that holds always. The way that it's worked out is that we're still able to accomplish the action and the comedy. Chuck is now a part of the action, but when the new Intersect is fritzing out — because Chuck is an emotional guy and his emotions mess with his abilities — that leads to more comedy, so it's the best of both worlds.
7. TVGuide.com: Tell us about Chuck's new love interest in Kristin Kreuk.
Levi: Kristin may well be one of the most adorable girls in the world. She's a, super nice, and b, really talented. It's tough when you only have one thing to go off of when you're watching somebody to get a feel for what their acting level is. It's only Smallville—and not to downplay Smallville— but she's got more range than you can even see from her previous stuff. I saw a whole different color and shade to her when she came in to play Hannah on the show. Last, but not least, just gorgeous. She's Dutch and Chinese, so I guess that's how you make 'em. Wooden shoes and chopsticks...both wooden, though! So I guess it's a wooden thing. Also, her and Rachel Bilson, just put me in your pocket small. She did a great job and I felt like we had a great chemistry.
8. TVGuide.com: Is her character a bad guy or a good guy?
Levi: Part of the fun of any one of these guest stars that we have is not knowing where it's going to end up, where there's going to be a turn. Rachel Bilson's character, for example, didn't turn out to be bad, she just happened to be getting illegally imported hard salami from the Greeks. Jordana Brewster was Fulcrum and bad, but also kind of redeemed herself, too. So people will have to watch and see.
Watch full episodes of Chuck
9. TVGuide.com: Since Chuck is part of the action this year, what's been your favorite stunt that you've gotten to do?
Levi: In the first episode, there's a zip line, which was fun. It's me and Yvonne and I've got my belt over a cable. We did this episode, it's like a heist episode, and we have to rappel Mission Impossible-style into a vault. The harnesses are a pain in the a--. For whatever reason, they don't fit on my hips well. They're not comfortable by any stretch of the imagination, but it's certainly not something you get to do in your everyday life. The fight scenes are a lot of fun, too. I just wish I wasn't such a big wet noodle. It's like 'Go go gadget arm!' I'm long and lean. I feel like I'm getting a little bit better as we progress. Coming from musical theatre, learning the fights is easy, but making them look like I'm Jason Bourne is another thing.
10. TVGuide.com: Is Chuck going to find it even harder to keep his spy life from his family this season?
Levi: Absolutely. He always does. From day one, that's been the biggest struggle for Chuck, is trying to balance this world of espionage and his life at home, his sister, Captain Awesome [Ryan McPartlin], Morgan [Joshua Gomez] and everyone else at the Buy More, but specifically Morgan and Ellie [Sarah Lancaster]. That's the toughest on him because they're the closest people in his life and he has to lie to them all the time. He definitely struggles with that this season. One of the cool things in the writing is that it's noted that Chuck is becoming better and better at lying, which is good and bad. He's losing himself in this world of espionage a little too well sometimes. Much to the chagrin of Sarah, who really likes Chuck for Chuck and doesn't want him to lose who he is. I don't think Chuck wants to lose who he is either, although he does want this spy life because it's something that gives his life meaning and purpose outside of fixing people's computers.
Would you rather see Chuck with Sarah, or let him play the field a bit? Discuss in the comments.