Yvonne Strahovski Yvonne Strahovski

Last week, Chuck's future took a detour when he felt compelled to take one for Team USA and put the kibosh on his simmering romance with Sarah. This Monday at 8 pm/ET, NBC's Chuck delves into the past, shedding light on how a decidedly awkward teen known as "Jenny Burton" came to be the sexy and savvy CIA agent we know today. Yvonne Strahovski gave us a look at the illuminating episode, which includes a literally kick-ass fight scene with guest star Nicole Richie.

TVGuide.com: I have to be honest. You're beautiful and sexy, Yvonne, but with the "Jenny Burton" wig and braces … not so much.
Yvonne Strahovski: Oh, you've seen it? I'm just walking over right now to the cast and crew screening. I loved doing that episode. The braces really brought me back to my childhood.

TVGuide.com: Were you an "awkward" teen?
Strahovski: Yeah, yeah.... I was always the lanky kid with bad skin. I was a drama [student], though, so not exactly like Sarah. I was a tomboy and didn't pay too much attention to my clothes.

TVGuide.com: When did you first get wind of what Sarah's back story would be?
Strahovski: I don't get much information until about a week before we start shooting. I knew they were talking about delving into the characters' histories, and I love finding out more about where we came from, and how Sarah became a CIA agent. We haven't explored the aspect of Chuck's parents, either. I love Sarah's back story, especially the scene [at the very end of the episode].

TVGuide.com: Zachary Levi over the summer promised us double the action and double the laughs, but he failed to mention double the emotion. Last week's break-up scene, I have to say, really packed a punch.
Strahovski: I agree. The episodes that stand out for me are the ones with more emotion in them. That's what the audience loves as well. It makes them root for you.

TVGuide.com: What Maxim editor wrote this week's fight scene featuring you and Nicole Richie drenched in a high-school gym shower?
Strahovski: [Laughs] I had a really great time shooting that. Nicole was excellent and didn't miss a beat at all. I was pleasantly surprised, as was the cast and crew, at how well she picked up the fight scene. Often we have guest stars who have never done a fight scene before, and they come to us with, well, different "ranges of skill." But she was on top of her game. Especially in the shower, being all wet.

TVGuide.com: Was a small part of you like, "There's no way I'd ever get bested by this 5-foot-1 pixie"?
Strahovski: Oh yeah. [Laughs] That's why I win in the end!

TVGuide.com: What other guest stars have you had fun working with this season?
Strahovski: We had a lot of fun with John Laroquette [as a suave-and-soused former CIA agent]. And Michael Clark Duncan and I had a fight scene [in the season opener]....

TVGuide.com: Which was hilarious, as Sarah tried to wrestle his massive self to the ground.
Strahovski: He's massive compared to me, so that was fun. The fight scenes are always my favorite parts.

TVGuide.com: How will the arrival of Jordana Brewster's character shake things up?
Strahovski: Ohhh, she shakes things up a lot. It's a great thing for the storyline to turn like that, to have Chuck's first love come back. Sarah of course gets very jealous, but doesn't really want to admit that she is.

TVGuide.com: It sounds like it will be Sarah pining now, where it used to be Chuck.
Strahovski: Exactly. I guess she's always pining, though, in her special way.

TVGuide.com: Who from the regular cast do you wish you worked with more?
Strahovski: I get to work sometimes with "Ellie" and "Captain Awesome," so the ones I don't really get to work with are the Nerd Herders, like Lester and Jeff. Though in Season 1 I did have a great scene with Lester in the Wienerlicious, where he asks me on a date.

TVGuide.com: Speaking of the Wienerlicious, are you happier with Sarah's new, Orange Orange uniform?
Strahovski: Oh, definitely! It's less cheesy, and I really like the color scheme. And the pants are better to fight in. It's a more … "convenient" outfit.

TVGuide.com: Have you heard anything about the 3-D episode Chuck is doing at midseason?
Strahovski: In terms of storyline, no. I just know we're taking an extra day to shoot it, and they're bringing in a special 3-D camera team.

TVGuide.com: Lastly, how has your life changed since Chuck hit primetime?
Strahovski: Dramatically. I came here with one suitcase and some clothes, so I had to buy a car and get some furniture and find a place to live, make some friends. It's like starting school again. So, my life has pretty much done a 180.