While promoting his role in the feature film Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel at the press day, Zachary Levi also took some time to talk about his day job, the NBC action-comedy series Chuck, returning in January 2010.
Excited to be on the air earlier than the originally planned March start time, and with an additional six episodes added to the 13 that were first ordered, the actor says that he’s not turning his back on television now that he’s working his way into film roles.
Zachary Levi will also be heard as a voice in Disney’s next animated princess feature, Rapunzel, set for 2010, about the long-haired beauty (voiced by Mandy Moore) who has spent her entire life in a tower until she falls in love with a bandit (voiced by Levi) for whom she must venture into the outside world for the first time to find.
Read all about it after the jump:
Question: Now that you’ve tasted movies, with your role in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel, are you like, “Screw the TV business! I’m a star!”?
Zachary: No. Television is a pretty great job, to begin with, and I wouldn’t have anything, if it weren’t for the jobs that I’ve had in the past that have built up to that. Do I want to do more films? Absolutely! Films tend to have more of a cache. But, that’s more of a vestige to the ’80s, where television wasn’t what it is now. In some ways, it’s so much better now.
Because of the special effects and everything that movies have brought forth, television has had to really up its game, like Lost. I could watch Lost forever, and it’s going to be done soon.
So, I enjoy doing what I do on Chuck, but you also get locked into playing one character, for maybe 10 years. That can be cool because you know the character, but it can also be a little creatively stifling sometimes because you want to play something different. With films, you’re playing something different, every couple of months, so that’s cool. And, if you’re lucky enough, you shoot films on location in amazing places, like Europe or Prague. Plenty of things have shot in Prague, and I’ve almost gotten to do that a couple of times. I was like, “Man, I would really love to go to Prague!” I’ve never been to Europe. I’ve been to London twice, for some press, but I’ve never been anywhere else, and I just keep hoping that work will bring me there.
How happy are you that Chuck is coming back even earlier than originally expected?
Zachary: Oh, I’m happy, yeah! But, any of that stuff that’s out of your hands, you just go, “Okay, whatever.” If it was still going to be in March than I’d be happy about that too. I’m just happy to be alive and have a job.
Have they give you any indication that they might pick up the back nine episodes?
Zachary: No, they certainly wouldn’t take another nine. We got six more. So, we got the 13, and then they picked us up for six more episodes, so we’re going to do 19, which is only three shy of a full season. We wouldn’t get a back nine now, at this point. I don’t think we would even get three more to fill out a 22.
To be perfectly honest, I like 13 episodes. I like how cable does it. Thirteen episodes allows you to really make it lean and mean. You can focus on those 13 episodes and make them all great, as opposed to the traditional 22-episode network season, which if we’re all being honest, tends to have a couple episodes that are like the packing peanuts and are filler. They’re the episodes where you’re like, “We didn’t really know what we were going to do this week, so everybody just vamp for a little while, and then we’ll come back for an episode that really means something.”
How are the scripts this season?
Zachary: Great! What worked out in our favor was that we didn’t think we were going to do a back six. We were only going to do 13, so the writers wrote an arc for episodes 1-13. They were basically done writing them, and then the network said, “Hey, we’d like to do six more!,” and they said, “Well, great! We can’t rework the first arc, so we’ll just make these six stand alone.” They’ll be based on the 13 that we do in the first part of the season, but it will be its own little mini-arc. It’s all good. Everything is good.
What sort of voice are you doing for Disney’s Rapunzel?
Zachary: My character is a bandit, named is Flynn Ryder. It’s funny because when I auditioned for the part, he was supposed to be British and I auditioned with a British accent. And I got the job and was like, “Sweet! I get to do something outside of the box.” And then, they decided, “No, we’re not going to make him British. We’re just going to do your voice. Just do what you do.” And, I was like, “But, I don’t wanna do that!”
Is it a different kind of Rapunzel than the traditional version?
Zachary: Yeah, kind of. It’s funny, I’ve seen some blogs and things with people freaking out because they’re like, “They’re going to make her action Barbie Rapunzel,” and that’s really not the case. As far as I’m concerned, John Lasseter is one of the most genius guys on the planet. He has done no wrong at Pixar, and it’s because he really knows how to make amazing movies. There has not been one Pixar movie that hasn’t done well. They’ve all been hits, it’s just the degree of hit. There’s no like, “Oh, it did okay.” They’re all amazing movies, every single one of them, because adults and kids watch them and there’s no gaps. It’s not like the parents are tuned in and then they’ve gotta tune out and then tune back in.
I’ll watch a Pixar movie, over and over and over again. I’ll be with friends of mine who have kids, that want to watch Finding Nemo, and I’m like, “Yeah, okay, let’s watch Nemo again, for the seven billionth time!,” because they’re amazing movies. They have heart, relationships, story and characters, and they’re not gimmick-driven. They’re all really amazing films. And, Rapunzel will be no different.
Telling a fairy tale is not an easy thing to do. In the ’50s and ’60s, when animation was still a new thing, people would just be amazed by the animation, so you could tell it in a more classic, slower way. But, we live in the YouTube generation, so if you don’t keep it interesting and moving, than you’re going to lose the audience anyway. And, Pixar knows how to do that. I have every confidence that it will be an amazing film, and I’m just super-excited to be a part of it.