At this year’s Toronto Film Festival, I was able to land an exclusive interview with Yvonne Strahovski for her new action-thriller Killer Elite. Starring Clive Owen, Robert De Niro, Jason Statham and Strahovski, the flick centers on a retired special ops agent (Statham) who is tasked with rescuing his mentor (De Niro). I caught the film at TIFF and if you’re a fan Statham and the rest of the cast, it’s definitely worth seeing.
During the interview, Strahovski talked about how she got involved in the project, the great cast, what’s coming up on the final season of Chuck, if there’s a chance they could do more than 13 episodes, what it’s been like on set with this being the final season, and her experience at Comic-Con this summer. In addition, she talked about filming My Mother’s Curse with Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand, and I also asked what her karaoke song is and the last video game she’s played. Hit the jump for the interview.
As usual, I’m offering two ways to get the interview: you can either click here for the audio or the full transcript is below. Killer Elite opens this weekend.
Yvonne Strahovski: I’m scared of karaoke. I think if I did have a go to karaoke song, it would be “Whatta Man” by Salt-n-Pepa. [laughs]
That is an interesting one. Marc Forster is German and has a thick accent and he told me yesterday that his is Eye of the Tiger.
Strahovski: Oh, well. In a German accent that would be amazing. [does a German accent] “Eye of the Tiger…”[laughs]
Apparently it is on YouTube and I am going to post it with the interview. What was the last video game that you played?
Strahovski: I don’t know if this classifies as a video game, but I have a terrible obsession with Angry Birds. I have 3 stared every single level that has ever come out ever except for this one in this moon thing that just came out.
Do you use any of the cheats on YouTube?
Strahovski: No. I am legitimate. The only thing I looked up is that I couldn’t find the last two golden watermelons in the Rio version. I couldn’t find them. I was like, “Where are the watermelons?!” So I had to go online and find out where they were.
Have you gotten the big bird and the feathers?
Strahovski: The one cockatoo thing?
I saw this on my iPad. This is really off topic, but there is this feather, and if you pay the dollar for the bird, you then have to complete 100 percent with the bird to get the feather in each level.
Strahovski: Oh, right. I think I know what you are talking about. I don’t think that I have done that.
I just learned this. You can now replay every single level with a new thing.
Strahovski: Oh, wow.
Things to do when you are not filming.
Strahovski: Oh, my gosh. Things to do when I am going to get on my plane in an hour to go back to L.A. [laughs]
Strahovski: My agent sent me the script and I put down a little tape for it, which went to Gary McKendry. He responded well to it and he asked to meet me. He came to visit me at Warner Bros when I was shooting Chuck. We really got along and then he asked me to meet Jason [Statham]. So I met Jason and I think he liked me because I am sitting here right now and I made the movie. [laughs] So it just kept getting better and better. I was really chuffed to be working with Jason Statham to begin with and then we found out that Clive Owen was signing on. Then when we got to Melbourne, to actually shoot the film, I remember walking into the production office and seeing Robert’s [De Niro] face up on the wall and wondering what his photo was doing on the wall. Then somebody said, “Oh, he is in the movie now.” I was like, “Great! That is awesome!” [laughs]
This film has a fantastic cast. Was there a moment where you first met Robert De Niro where you were like, “Oh, wow. This is a whole other level.”
Strahovski: Yeah! It was sort of…gosh, how many words can you use to describe the moment? It was exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. I asked to meet him the day before we were going to work together. His first day of shooting was the café scene that we did in the movie. So I knew I was going to spend the day one-on-one with him. So I wanted to get the meeting portion of the whole thing over and done with beforehand, which was really great. We had a chat and he was so sweet. He immediately makes you feel comfortable. He is a beautiful guy.
Strahovski: It was straight off the bat when the script first came to me. I knew that I was going to be doing an Australian accent. My stuff was always set in Australia as far as I know.
A lot of actors like the Clint Eastwood method of 2 takes while some actors like the David Fincher method of 90 takes.
Maybe if you worked with Fincher your mind would change?
Strahovski: [laughs] If I worked with Fincher, I would lo love to try that out one day, absolutely. But for the past 4 ½ years I have spent on a show that is just 1 or 2 takes. If you are lucky, you get 3 takes and if you are really lucky then you are moving on. I have sort of learned to get it done in the first 2 takes. It is funny because I have worked on films during my hiatus and films are a slower pace. Most of the film directors expect their actors to want to work fast.
My friends who are on shows have explained to me that it is very long hours, you have to get a lot done, there are many pages and you have to get through it.
Strahovski: Yeah. That is why I am getting up at 4 in the morning tomorrow.
I have to ask you about the final season of Chuck. You guys are signed on for 13 episodes, but is there a chance that if the ratings are good on Firdays that you guys can do more?
Strahovski: There is always a chance.
For me, it is very weird. You guys are aiming for 13, but it might go to 19.
Strahovski: That is the thing. I don’t know. I mean, it is so hard. We have to stick with the notion that this is it- that the 13 will be it. So I think that is what we are working with. If for some random reason they throw us back into the works and say, “You know what? We need 9 more.” We will do what we have always done every season and just pick it up where we left off.
What is like for you with this being the final season? When you first got back to the set for episode one this year, was there a different energy for you? Can you talk about how it is like knowing that this is the final year?
Strahovski: It has been bittersweet. Actually, the end of last season was a big hit moment for me. I remember saying bye to everybody while thinking that the end of season four could be it because we didn’t know then if we were going to get a season five. I remember walking all the way through the backlot back to my trailer through the Warner Bros while taking it in as if it were it. So I feel like we got a bit of a bonus season right now. We are having a lot more fun as a cast. We had fun initially to begin with, but I think everyone is letting loose and milking the moment. I think I can honestly say that this season has been the most fun with the cast.
Where are you in the shooting schedule? What episode are you on?
Strahovski: We are on episode five. Zach [Levi] is directing this one.
You were at Comic-Con this year. Zach was very emotional on stage.
Strahovski: Yeah. That is something that I wanted to talk about. That was a big moment. We were very emotional at Comic Con knowing that we have had such loyal fans that have kept us on the air for all of these years. It is sad to say bye to them. People are so emotional. I mean, I have had journalists who are fans of the show that choke up when they ask about it ending. It is unbelievable. We really have the best fans on the planet. They are so dedicated. It is nice to know because it is ending. I think I can speak for all of the actors on the show when I say that we have such loyal fans. I feel comfortable knowing that whatever I do next I know that I will have people watching out for me seeing where I am going to go next. It is really comforting to know that.
Obviously, the guys in the writer’s room know where they are going towards the end. One the first day on set, did you say to them, “How does it really end?”
Strahovski: I didn’t, actually. I haven’t asked that question funnily enough. I don’t know. I have not asked that question. I don’t know if I want to know.
I think when you get that last script it is going to be…although, who knows? NBC could maybe still go another 6 or 9 if the ratings are good.
Strahovski: You never know.
I want to ask you about Guilt Trip. Can you talk a little bit about that? Did you have scenes with Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand?
Strahovski: Yeah. All of my scenes were with Barbra and Seth. I play his ex-girlfriend that he is sort of obsessing over a little bit – his high school sweetheart. I didn’t know they were changing the title to Guilt Trip. I thought it was My Mother’s Curse originally.
On the always accurate IMBD, it is now Guilt Trip. Did you all of a sudden have a lot more friends wanting to visit you while you were shooting Guilt Trip?
Strahovski: [laughs] I did! It is funny how many Streisand fans came out of the woodworks. A lot of people in my life were like, “Oh, really? I’m really a fan.” It is amazing. She really has touched a lot of people.
The show is ending and you have made the transition into doing features. I’m assuming that once the show wraps that the doors will open. Do you see yourself singing on for another TV show or would you like to explore doing films more?
Strahovski: I would love to explore film seeing as I have prominently been on television. It would be nice to change it up and focus on film a little bit. It does come down to character. It does come down to what am I playing, have I done it before, can I be invested in it, and is it going to work for me? My favorite thing about being an actor is that I get to be so many different people in one lifetime. You sort of get to be all of these different characters. So I think it has to speak to me in some way. Whether it is television or film, the character on the page has to speak to me.
Going back to Chuck for a bit. What can fans look forward to in these first few episodes? What have you guys been doing and what can you tease besides the amazing guest stars?
Strahovski: Yeah, we have amazing guest stars. Carrie-Anne Moss is awesome. I am just going to put that out there. We have been spending some time on set. She is so cool and I really like her. Well, Morgan has the intersect now. So the dynamic has changed a little bit. We sort of have to protect Morgan now whereas initially we started the whole show where I was protecting Chuck. It is kind of like we have a kid now. We are married and Morgan is our man child that we have to protect. [laughs[ It is nice to know that there is a different dynamic. All of the original Chuck cast members know about the spy world like Ellie and Captain Awesome. It is cool to be able to finally talk about it openly with the Chuck band.
I think that is one the strong suits of the show. Each season of the show has progressed naturally. They are not trying to hold the characters back. There has been a lot of change and I think that is one of the strengths of the show.
Strahovski: There has been. I mean, we got married. That is quick for TV show characters, but I feel that we have moved so fast because we are always on the bubble. So the writers are like, “Quick! Let’s…” Although, it doesn’t seem like it is quick. But you are right; we are not holding anything back. We are just going with the flow.