I’ve been on a fair number of conference calls and at most I’ve chuckled occassionally at something the talent has said. But the conference call I was on with Chuck stars Zachary Levi and Joshua Gomez last week had me laughing throughout (thankfully, you’re on mute until it’s time to ask your question). The guys are genuinely geeky (there’s a part of the interview where they jokingly explore Super Mario Bros. 2 as if it were the work of C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien), have a great rapport, and it’s basically just two friends joking around, but not in a dismissive way about the questions they’re being asked. I really hope that when you’re reading this, you’ll find the answers as funny as I did when I was listening to them and waiting to ask my question (which is the one at the end).
Hit the jump to hear Mr. Levi and Mr. Gomez discuss the Chuck and Morgan bromance, Zachary’s thoughts on directing his first episode, working with Christopher Lloyd (who will be in an upcoming episode), what kind of episode they would make if they had absolutely no restrictions (spoiler: it would be brilliant), and other delightful topics.
Chuck airs Monday nights at 8/7c on NBC. Tonight’s episode, “Chuck vs. the Fake Name,” was one of my all-time favorites.
I know that you’re on Twitter Zach and I was wondering how important has social networking sites been for Chuck’s campaign to keep the show around and to, you know, promote the show in general as well?
LEVI: Well, you know, as far as getting the show back I wasn’t on Twitter before that so Twitter wasn’t really a part of that as far as I was concerned but I know that a lot of fans certainly utilized it and utilized Facebook, you know, got the word out. I mean, the Inter-Web at large is just a huge and great way to virally get information around and keep fans informed.
And so I, I mean, I think it’s fantastic. I think that Twitter – I’ve, you know, come to really embrace it when I first heard about it. I thought this is absolutely ridiculous it’s like just, you know, Facebook status updates all the time and that’s like the worst part of Facebook. I don’t need to know when everybody’s taking a poop.
But I’ve quickly come to realize that it’s a really great…
GOMEZ: Everybody poops.
LEVI: That’s great. Well I read a book about that when I was a kid so I already knew that. But a two-humped camel has a two-hump poop. Just kidding.
LEVI: But at any rate I really think it’s invaluable especially nowadays, especially with so many people, you know, watching entertainment online or DVR, you know, whatever, it’s a way to really stay connected and kind of give back to your fans, little Easter eggs, little nuggets, you know.
Nathan Fillion, for example, came and visited the set the other day. And I know how many fans of ours are also fans of Nathans because, you know, they followed Adam from Firefly and, you know, it’s just the whole geekdom world that I very much include myself and to be a part of and I know Josh does as well. If you can embrace it and utilize it it’s just good for everything.
And my question for Josh is the relationship between Morgan and Chuck continues to mature each and every season of the show; how do you see the maturity level of Chuck and Morgan’s relationship ongoing – being ongoing?
GOMEZ: I assume you use that word loosely…Not one usually thrown around with our…
…more mature. Yeah. Actually there’s, you know, we – now that we live together and, you know, I think…
LEVI: Oh no she’s talking about the show Josh.
GOMEZ: Oh, oh. Geesz, oh no it hasn’t matured at all. I thought you – I thought – okay I was confused there for a second. No I think that, you know, it’s – 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. So, right? Don’t you feel that way?
GOMEZ: Yeah, I mean, it’s sad really, sad. So, yeah, I think that Morgan and Chuck have both obviously and in sort of parallel ways have sort of mirrored each other throughout these three season in their own different ways in sort of scale or, you know.
But, you know, they both have matured, they both have become different people from where we started. I mean, you look back at that and you go wow, you know, I was eating garbage out of a refrigerator in the break room and now, you know, now I still do that but less. And as an assistant manager I do it.
So, yeah, (intending) with Chuck, you know, I mean, he’s sort of – you know, he’s obviously come a long, long way. So, you know, and I think their relationship reflects that, you know, they’re sort of different men now and – but that’s also – that also saddens me, you know, I miss the old Chuck and Morgan sometimes.
LEVI: It does yeah, not the episode – the first which is on the first but on the 8th is Episode 9, that was my directorial debut. I was really blessed, I mean, we have a lot of great episodes and I felt like I got a really great episode. And, you know, one of the perks of it was that I got all of our regulars, I got everyone in the cast in my episode. Sometimes you don’t…
LEVI: …other times there are episodes where you’re missing a face here or there but in this one I got everyone, I got, you know, Casey and Sarah and good old Morgan Grimes…
GOMEZ: Yeah, Grimeys…
LEVI: And, you know, big Mike and Jeff and Lester and Ellie and Awesome, I mean, it was really…
LEVI: …to be able to work with everyone and really feel supported by everyone. I – not once did I feel like – did I feel like it was a strange or uncomfortable or awkward situation. Everyone – but, you know, but I think part of that just had to do with the fact that I, you know, 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, you know, 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, you know, 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, you know, 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 feel really strong about the episode and I’m really looking forward to everyone being able to see it and hearing feedback on it.
What is your favorite episode so far?
GOMEZ: It’s the upcoming Zachary Levi directed episode.
LEVI: Yeah, well, you know, actually I don’t know, I mean, I kind of – I am a little biased and partial to the episode I directed but…
LEVI: …other than that…
LEVI: …I don’t know I really loved – at least so far this season I really loved Episode 5 on the plane.
GOMEZ: That was great.
LEVI: That was a fun episode. I’m trying to think, you know, we’ve got some other episodes that are coming up but I just – I don’t know how much I can really talk about them.
GOMEZ: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
LEVI: But I think that this season has certainly allowed us to make some of our best episodes just the way the premise of the show has changed ever so slightly. I mean, it’s not – actually not the premise, the rules in which we get to play in. Josh, what about you, what’s your favorite question or episode?
GOMEZ: Yeah, I mean, I would feel the same – I feel the same way. Obviously, I mean, again being a little biased 309 was just a fun kind of special episode to have you directing and it was just a really good written episode and it’s a really fun episode. And so that one obviously stands out and was just a – I think a special episode so it’s cool.
And I agree with you though, I think 305 is a lot of fun, that turned out really well. But I’d be honest like you said and also, I mean, there but some of the ones I think that are going to be really cool aren’t actually even finished so it’s hard to… say. But making them I have a few I like, oh that’s cool, you know, some of the later episodes. But I think are going to turn out really good or I hope they’re going to turn out really good and the fans are going to really like. But the ones that are done or at least aired, yeah, like 305 stands out and 309 sure. Yeah, sure, sure…
I have a bit of a problem in the conceptual area and I was wondering if you could speak to that. This season with the Intersect 2.0 we’re being told that Chuck has to learn to control his emotions to use it properly. But at the end of Season 2 it kicked in when he was panicked because he thought that he, Casey and especially Sarah were about to die.
So my problem is, is this an actual thing that could be referred to again or is it possibly that someone higher up has noticed the relationship shift between Chuck and Sarah and have intervened through this method?
GOMEZ: Wow. I don’t know, couldn’t you ask about Twitter or something and isn’t there…
LEVI: Actually I mean, I quite appreciate when people give the attention to detail that I think, you know, anything merits. And so no I don’t think you’re over-thinking it at all. However I will say that I don’t know if Josh or I could answer that adequately or appropriately.
I mean, there are certain things that, you know, that happen in the dynamic of the show that are outside of our power or understanding. And so we just kind of, you know, have to go on the journey. And – but an astute observation for sure and I think one that Josh Schwartz or Chris Fedak would be able to answer and satisfy because I really couldn’t tell you.
I wanted to ask, you know, what are you bringing to the table as a nerd yourselves, like how are you bringing that out? Where’s that coming from? What’s your background in that?
GOMEZ: Oh boy. Now we’re talking.
GOMEZ: Yeah, yeah, yeah, no, now here’s a question I can answer all right. So Zach?
LEVI: You’re killing it kid, go with it, run with it.
GOMEZ: Oh anyway well here’s the, I mean, look as far as – that was the thing when I first read this script, I mean, these two guys I really felt like I knew and grew up with. And it was the – exactly this sort of guy that I was growing up, you know, so, you know, video games, sci-fi and fantasy movies, comic books, I mean, you name it was a huge, huge part of shaping who I am and was especially even as a younger man.
But so, yeah, I mean, you know, I feel like that it started back when I think my dad I think brought home an Atari 2600 and probably took me to see, you know, Empire Strikes Back in the theater I can remember seeing that. So, you know, from there on it was a life of a geek for me. Yo-ho, yo-ho as a – so, yeah – so I would say that.
And I mean, there’s obviously huge differences between myself and the character of Morgan but there’s a lot of similarities in there probably a love and appreciation of all things geekdom as we would say.
Well what about you Zachary?
LEVI: You know, literally the same thing. I mean, Josh and I kind of – it’s a little ridiculous. I mean, we just sit back and laugh about how – how lucky we are that we just get to be us I guess, I don’t know. There are certain – like Josh said, there are certainly, you know, major differences between our characters on the show and our personalities in real life but they are very small and they are very few.
We, I mean, within, you know, like the first few days of getting cast and I concur with Josh, when I read the pilot I was like holy crap, like I know this guy; I know him because I stare at him in the mirror every morning and – or at least I thought, you know.
And so we both got the jobs. I actually had the pleasure of reading with Josh for his network test, you know, an audition. And when that guy walked in the room wearing his R2-D2 t-shirt I thought we got a winner folks.
GOMEZ: Yeah, we got a winner, we got a winner.
LEVI: We got a winner. And then, you know, before we had shot the pilot he wanted to sit everybody down in the cast and get to know one another which is a great idea. And Josh and I happened to be sitting right next to each other. And I can’t remember exactly who started the conversation; I think it might have been Josh. I think Josh kind of, you know, very quietly turned to me and so as to not alert everyone else at the table of our (nerdom).
And he kind of turns to me and, you know, and says so are you a gamer? And I think my ears perked up like that of a German Shepherd and I was like what, because I am. What, are you? And then from then on we were just – we were done, we were cooked, stick a fork in us. I mean, we could go on – we do go on for endless amounts of time talking about – comparing and contrasting video games.
I mean, the way that like CS Lewis and Tolkien would talk about like books and like literature like we go on about the pros and cons of, you know…
LEVI: …in Mario I was an interesting departure from the normal Bowser villain…
LEVI: …having to battle a giant toad. So interestingly enough the princess being able to float along the sand would drag you down. You know, Toad was (unintelligible) to navigate those (unintelligible) levels. I mean, that’s what we do, that’s what we do.
GOMEZ: Yeah, it’s pretty intense.
LEVI: …video games, whatever, you know, and we both grew up loving video games, loving comic books, loving sci-fi fantasy genre stuff and so to be able to be these two guys now is a very easy fit I think. And because I love Josh Gomez so much and he’s such an incredibly talented and nice guy it makes being friends – because we are friends in real life.
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?
LEVI: Joshy? 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…
LEVI: …of his, yeah, suspicions, thank you.
LEVI: Lexicon, lexicon don’t fail me now. And so it doesn’t necessarily affect me all that much. But you’ll see how it, you know, progresses and affects both Morgan’s character and my character, you know, and my ability to sneak out the way that I always do.
I’m surprised it’s taken this long to be honest. Like how do I keep leaving the Buy More and never come back with really any results? Maybe like a black eye, like…
GOMEZ: Yeah, yeah, right at least John Casey’s moving the Beefmaster or two once in a while for crying out loud.
GOMEZ: You know…
LEVI: I don’t think I’ve sold or fixed anything in three years. I don’t know how that – but, yeah, so that’s – on my end that’s kind of – Josh, what do you think?
GOMEZ: Yeah, I think the way it’s affected on Morgan’s side is simply what – I think before it was, you know, listen don’t question my, you know, whatever, you know, whoever was in power was sort of the anti-Morgan so it was like hey, hey back off the man, you know.
GOMEZ: And then I became the man see and so now it’s sort of my job, it’s like, you know, okay, wait a minute hold on, this is a little crazy. So, you know, I guess, you know, it’s just set me on that road, on that path to kind – of kind of going like oh wait a minute now this is – and plus, you know, the kid had the eye for Hannah, you know, that didn’t help. Breaks my heart.
LEVI: Heartbreaker (unintelligible).
GOMEZ: But, yeah, again you just have to – it’s hard to talk about now you just have to let – there is some cool stuff and it plays out and how it goes down it’s just sweet.
GOMEZ: I don’t think Morgan would be capable. I think that it’s an honest true friendship and I just think that if there’s any kind of whatever, it’s like hey, you know, I think it’s always been a thing of like talk to me dude and…
GOMEZ: …you know, Chuck’s wanting to do nothing more than talk to Morgan. You know, if there was a person that would understand and be, you know, Chuck realizes it would be, you know, 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, you know, do anything that would cause, you know, direct hurt to his friend, you know, or anything malicious.
LEVI: Or conflict really. I think you avoid conflict…
Now Zach and Josh I wanted to know since both of your characters, well, in real life you guys are kind of tech geeks. What do you think about the show’s online presence like with the games and the mobile features and everything?
LEVI: You know what’s funny I actually have not delved into a lot of the stuff that’s online partially because I’m at work everyday.
GOMEZ: And partially because they don’t have an Xbox live game, come on, let’s get with it.
LEVI: Yeah seriously right? When are we going to get our Xbox 360…
GOMEZ: Yeah, yeah, and now we’re talking.
LEVI: A little adventure (PG) perhaps.
GOMEZ: Plus one to Morgan’s security.
LEVI: But I’m aware of it for sure and I think it’s great. I think anything that you can do to feed the appetite of your fans especially really dedicated and devoted fans that have supported us and believed in us and fought for us for as long as they have is fantastic and I want more of it.
GOMEZ: Yeah, they do a really great job too. Like Zach said, I mean, I haven’t really delved into every little thing but I know what I have seen and stuff like that I know our Web guys do a really, really great job and so yeah I think it’s – and the more the better, I mean, I say we keep going with that stuff because that’s really our fan base essentially, you know, so all that kind of stuff, you know, mobile gaming and all that whatever the Chuck iPhone app…
LEVI: That’s fun…
GOMEZ: Yeah. Yeah. So all that stuff I think. And that just sort of caters to our fan base I think so I think they’re doing a pretty good job.
Is Morgan was going to get a new love interest soon?
GOMEZ: No not that – I don’t – trying to think what have we done and what haven’t we done – what have we aired and not aired. But I don’t think – I think, no he stays solo I think for the most part. He tries I think.
LEVI: Yeah, you tried with Hannah.
GOMEZ: Yeah, yeah. Yeah exactly. But nothing permanent that I think plays out in this season. But he stays the lone wolf. I think he has bigger things on his plate. And so, you know, Buy More is, you know, assistant managing is tough biz, no it’s not really actually I do nothing. But, yeah, so unfortunately no.
LEVI: We haven’t actually gotten it yet. We haven’t read it so I have no idea. But I would imagine that it does, I mean, you know, I would imagine it’s going to accomplish both I would…
LEVI: …you know, it will wrap things up in a way that you feel, you know, some kind of closure, you know, 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, you know, has again a really rabid and devoted and fantastic fan base but, you know, 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, you know, given all the circumstances of where we’re at as a show, where NBC is at as a network and where the, you know, the five new hours of programming have opened up. And so I feel like, you know, we could have a place there.
But having not read the finale I suppose I couldn’t really answer that accurately.
I wanted to ask about you guys working with Christopher Lloyd. Have you done it yet and what was he like?
LEVI: So insane. So insane. I – yeah…
GOMEZ: Honestly a genius and a pro and…
LEVI: And so talented, such a sweetheart. No it’s true though, all of the above.
GOMEZ: That’s so crazy.
LEVI: You know, I will say we’ve been very, very blessed, we’ve… you know, every guest star on the show has been someone who has been a pleasure to work with. And I think that – and I think that has a lot do with honestly just the type of person that the show attracts.
I don’t – you know, I think that, you know, we have a very unique show and one that, you know, runs the gamut on genres. And I think that certain actors get it and maybe certain actors don’t or whatever. And when I found out Christopher Lloyd was doing our show I think I had an accident in my pants. It was…
GOMEZ: Zach and I have worked with like – I mean, there’s been some – obviously as you guys know, I mean, there’s been some really, really cool people. And I think for us personally, you know, that’s going at some serious geek fan-boy-dom.
LEVI: Seriously, yeah.
GOMEZ: Yeah so it was like he’s on the set right now. And it was like, yeah, we don’t always get like that but to have Doc Brown on the show it was like, yeah, are you kidding me.
LEVI: Now I just need a hoverboard and my life will be complete.
If there were no restrictions what premise would you like to see for an episode of Chuck? And what scenarios would you put Morgan and the rest of the gang through? And in particular what kinds of crazy costumes would you make your cast-mates wear just for the sake of torture?
LEVI: Oh wow.
GOMEZ: Man oh man there’s so many in there. Holy smokes.
LEVI: Yeah. I mean, I think – and perhaps I’m speaking for both Josh and I in this but, you know, I mean, we’re a couple of dudes, you know, we’re a couple of dudes who love first person shooter video games. So yes so I think if we had our druthers we would be running around with guns all day. That would be the ultimate. And…
GOMEZ: …space marine gear, yeah.
LEVI: Yeah. And then the costumes we’d put everyone in will clearly Yvonne [Strahovski] and Sara [Lancaster] would be put in scantily clad, you know…You know what and Baldwin, let’s put Baldwin in…
GOMEZ: My fantasy would put Adam Baldwin in that freaking elf costume that I have to wear, you know and have him prance around the Buy More. Yeah.
LEVI: Yeah. And then Vik [Sahay] and Scott [Krinsky] we’d just – we’d over-dress them. They’d be in parkas and beanies, well for Vik it’d be a (toc) being from Toronto. But, no, I don’t know, I mean, you know, how would we torture them? What kind of outfits would we put them in for torture?
GOMEZ: I don’t know.
LEVI: I think you put anyone in a thong that’s torture so there you go.
GOMEZ: Except for Krinsky I think. I think for – Jeff he’d be quite comfortable.
LEVI: Yeah, Jeff could pull off a thong. Hopefully he never pulls it off. If you get my meaning.
GOMEZ: And wouldn’t all this episode take place in like Hawaii or something like that wouldn’t we…
LEVI: Oh yeah.
GOMEZ: …had no restrictions.
LEVI: Oh yeah and by – yeah, sorry I forgot to qualify, all of these would take place in awesome foreign locals, none of this would actually happen in Burbank. This would all be shooting an episode in Hawaii, shooting an episode in Paris…
GOMEZ: An episode in (Hoth). I mean, you said that we can go if we had no whatever so…
LEVI: Oh my gosh. “Echo base this is Rogue 2…I’ve found them.”
GOMEZ: “I’ve found them.”
LEVI: “The Empire is breathing down our neck.”
GOMEZ: Adam Baldwin sitting in the back of the X-Wing in an elf costume. That’s how the episode would kind of…
LEVI: He’s the harpooner.
GOMEZ: He’s the harpooner.
LEVI: He’s the elvin harpooner.
GOMEZ: He’s the guy chained to build the (unintelligible) only he’s in an elf costume and he’s going ahh, that would be my – no poor Adam.
My question is for Zachary, earlier this season it was really interesting to see Chuck burn an asset and to see how difficult that was for him. And we’ve also seen how easy it’s become for him to just lie to those, you know, closest to him. And I was wondering as this season progresses are we going to see Chuck go darker as he, you know, goes further into his spy training?
LEVI: Excellent question.
GOMEZ: Yeah, yeah.
LEVI: I don’t necessarily know or think that you’ll see him go darker necessarily. I mean, I know that there was a lot of hubub on boards and stuff about, you know, hey I don’t like this new Chuck, he’s dark and whatnot. You know, 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, you know, 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 – I don’t think that he gets darker I just think, you know, 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, you know, him learning a very valuable lesson and then, you know, proceeding to drink that pain away.
GOMEZ: Yeah baby.
LEVI: But don’t you know it. But no I wouldn’t say that Chuck’s – we’re not going to see, you know, Bizarro Chuck, I mean, he’s not going to become this like, you know, unshorn fighting himself in a scrap yard although that would make a great episode.
So that’s not in the Intersect 2.0? Bizarro Chuck?
LEVI: No, you know, you’re just seeing – everyone’s still seeing the same Chuck it’s just a Chuck who’s going through some different circumstances.
GOMEZ: Yeah, I thought – I always kind of felt there was like a little bit of the – just a bit of reality setting in on a kid who’s just sort of moved – like again when we first started this thing he was a – it was a different guy, I mean, the worst thing that was going on was that he lost a girl and got kicked out of Stanford, that was the sort of – the weight on him.
And now, you know, he’s seen some real stuff, you know. And so I feel like if there’s anything it’s just a little bit more of a weight on him but that he’s still Chuck, you know, I mean, he’s definitely not, you know, yeah, yeah, you said it, dark, bizarro, you know, anybody who wants it.