Chuck co-creator and executive producer Chris Fedak and star Joshua Gomez joined entertainment reporters in a conference call to discuss the new season today. Naturally they didn’t reveal much by way of spoilers, but they did tease some interesting developments for season 4 and were generally just excited about being back for another round.
Josh: “I’m definitely part of Team Bartowski. I don’t know how much the CIA loves me. *laughs* The Buy More is rebuilt and taken over by the CIA, and Morgan basically becomes the “through.” He’s in charge of keeping the CIA’s cover, to make it look and feel like the Buy More. I’m not jumping out of any planes yet, though, so there’s room for growth.”
Chris: “Something we realized last year is that Gomez is just wonderful in the spy world, so we do look forward to bringing him back on spy missions this year.”
With all these terrific guest star announcements, are you taking advantage of this “new lease on life” of getting a fourth season?
Chris: “Definitely. Not only do we get to tell a big exciting new story this season, but we get to use the show to kind of meet and bring new people into the world of Chuck. It’s great because they fit so perfectly into our world. We’re super jazzed to cast in a way that people are gonna get excited about. It makes our set a really exciting place to visit, too.”
Josh: “The guest stars are really like Chuck and Morgan’s ‘hit list’.”
What are new viewers going to get if this is the first season they watch?
Chris: “They’re going to get a big, exciting action-comedy television show. You can sit down and watch the show on Monday night and you’re going to know where you are. We remind you, then we’re off to the races. That’s part of the fun of bringing in someone like Dolph Lundgren or Olivia Munn or Harry Dean Stanton in our season opener, it’s a fun way back into the world.”
Are there any cool new action scenes you can tell us about?
Chris: “In our first episode, we have some great action stuff. We wanted to go into the classic spy world of Russian bad guys. So we have Chuck and another fellow named Morgan Grimes getting into some trouble inside a Russian bad guy base. It’s not only great action, but you also have Zac and Josh just being so funny together. One of the things we really love is their great repartee. I want to do an old reference to Hope and Crosby. It’s like they’re jus tso much fun to watch together. That’s for our TCM crowd.”
“Our second episode, for those requiring some Sarah Walker action, we have a fantastic fight. A wonderful fight, that takes place in Milan during Fashion Week that takes place between Karolina Kurkova and Yvonne Strahovski. It’s one of our best fights yet.”
What keeps challenging you about playing the role of Morgan?
Josh: “Every season he has had these evolutions, none greater than in season 3 than when I finally got to learn about Chuck. It’s a blast. The challenge is trying to find ways to have a character evolve and mature, yet keep him the same as when you first started, whatever it was that made him likeable from the beginning. I have so much fun because every season, it hasn’t been stale because he’s not the same dude.”
Is there a chance we’ll see a Jeffster performance this season?
Chris: *pauses* “There’s certainly a chance, but I don’t want to give anything away.”
What’s happening with Morgan’s love life in season 4?
Chris: “At the heart of the Morgan story this season is, dare I say it, a forbidden romance.”
Josh: “When he says ‘forbidden’ he’s meaning ‘lethal’.” *laughs*
Chris: “The Adam Baldwin-Josh Gomez dynamic is such great comedy material for us, that we want to make that the most dramatic, confrontational relationship, with some gut punches thrown in.”
Is Morgan the new Chuck?
Josh: “I find Morgan in these situations [where he's trying to start a relationship] that are very Chuck-like from the first and second season. Now he’s gotta be the one saying ‘I can’t talk now’ and keep somebody safe while there are bad guys around. That part’s a blast.”
Chris: “Chuck is getting better as a spy. He’s got this amazing raw material, he’s got the Intersect in his head. He’s getting better as a spy. He’s still Chuck, he’s not a cold-blooded killer, but he’s getting better. We realized we could funnel that fish-out-of-water/wish-fulfillment side of the story going through Morgan.”
What was the process of bringing Timothy Dalton on board?
Chris: “We tried to be as charming as possible. Luckily I was with Schwartz at the time, who’s just fantastic.Â Timothy watched the show and he really dug it, so we sat down and talked about what he wanted to do, the kind of part he wanted. We’re about to start filming with him, and it’s really awesome to watch Timothy Dalton digging in. T.Dalt, if you will, is gonna be amazing. I think you guys are really going to love him.”
Who does Morgan want to spend time with (i.e. who would Josh like to see guest star)?
Josh: “I’ve always fantasized about having Vince Vaughn working at the Buy More. Can we get him as a Greta?”
Chris: “I love that!”
Josh: “Having Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) is kind of the ultimate for me. I’m such a huge Terminator fan. I’m still pumped about that.”
With Chuck no longer part of the CIA, what’s happening with Sarah & Casey?
Chris: “Sarah & Casey are still with the CIA. When we open season 4, they’re traveling the world, working on missions. They’re still the best CIA/NSA spy team in the world. The person they’re focusing on is a man by the name of Alexi Valkoff who is our Big Bad this season.”
How far would Morgan follow Chuck into his rogue endeavors?
Josh: “As far as he would want me to go.”
Josh: “To Morgan, this is the coolest thing in the world. We’re living out every video game, every movie. I think Morgan still doesn’t quite get it. It’s fantasy time. He’ll go as far as Chuck wants him to…and beyond.”
If season 4 is the last, are the writers prepared for end of series?
Chris: “Right now we’re in midst of working on the 11th, 12th, and 13th episodes. We try to tell the most dynamic story we possibly can. 13 will be an epic episode, no matter what, even if there is a back 9 order. 13 will be a big, exciting…I’ve always been a fan of prologues, not epilogues, so I think my favorite version of an ending is the one that implies the great adventure ahead. 13 will be very exciting, very satisfying, and hopefully with the back 9 it will be right in the middle of the season.”
Are Morgan’s combat skills upgraded at all?
Josh: “No, I don’t think there’s so much an evolution… Combat skills are not Morgan’s forte. He’s still Morgan. I think he wants to learn, I think he wants to get better. He’s got a sort of mentor, the best mentor, in John Casey…we’ve been doing this thing where every time we [Adam and Josh] are in a scene together, I’m just trying to stare at him and mimic him and anything John Casey does, Morgan’s trying to do. I’m hoping he can teach me some fisticuffs. But he’s still Morgan.”
The synopsis for 4.01 says Chuck & Morgan go on a globe-spanning mission; how much of that will we see?
Chris: “It is world-spanning. We do have a monster sequence set in Moscow. They go all over the place. We will get glimpses of some of those adventures.”
For Josh, who would you pick in a fight: Adam Baldwin or Dolph Lundgren?
Josh: “Adam. I have to work with him every day. John Casey for sure, over, what was Dolph’s character’s name?”
Josh: “Yeah, Marco. I’d pick John Casey over Marco any day.”
Will Papa Bartowski return?
Chris: “We’d love to have Scott Bakula back on the show. However, I have to say that Steven J. Bartowski is no more.”
Josh: “You’re going on record!”
Chris: “I am going on record. But I’m not the most trustworthy person in the world. *laughs* Just considering the epic dramatic scope of the season finale…he definitely died in the arms of his son.” [Note: that last part seemed to be said somewhat slyly, although it could have been the phone connection making Chris sound devious.]
What do they think about new spy shows like Undercovers & True Lies coming in after Chuck is already established?
Chris: “I think it’s awesome! We’re all huge fans of JJ Abrams and huge fans of James Cameron, so we’re really excited to see what other people do with the spy world. It’s neat to see what other people are going to do. It’s an exciting time to be in the TV spy game.”
Are there any comedy bits they’ve had to discard because they’re too over the top?
Chris: “Usually every season we have a couple of different bits that don’t make it into the show. It’s usually about time, not that they’re too outrageous. We had a great thing in season 2 where Morgan and Lester are trapped in the Buy More at night and they’re both convinced Michael Strahan is going to kill them in the morning. Neither of them thought this was [how they were going to die.] So they discuss how they thought they were going to perish. It’s this hilarious scene between the two of them discussing how they thought [their death] was going to go. Lester’s involved porpoises. Morgan’s involved a motorcycle stunt. Unfortunately boiling it down to 42 minutes, there’s something we have to lose.”
Where would you like to see Morgan progress? Maybe see more of the Grimeses?
Josh: “We met mama, and we know how that turned out. Big Mike took care of that. I don’t know if we’re going to meet anymore Grimses. Chuck and Morgan are fairly similar, they’re both really decent guys who want the simple things. Chuck wants to find love and have family and friends. I think these are things Morgan wants for his friend. I think he would take a backseat on his own happiness to have his friend achieve it first. Right now all eyes are on Chuck. We all love Chuck so much, that he’s priority number one. For Morgan, I think to find love, and then become John Casey is, at this point, a goal.”
Do they have a timeline for when Baby Awesome will arrive?
Chris: “We do have a timeline, but I don’t want to spoil anything. We are planning on doing a baby episode this season, but it’s not going to be early in the season.I’ve had lot of meetings about baby bumps and how they look on TV. It is definitely going to happen, but not at the beginning of the season.”
Josh: “What Chris doesn’t want to talk about is that the baby comes out with a beard.”
Will we see Zac sing this year?
Chris: “It’s tricky for us. We’re always putting it up on the board in the writers room, that Chuck has a flash and he sings. But Zac is so wonderful, our concern is that does that feel like it’s too much. Is that the spy skill that doesn’t make sense? It’s something we think about, but we haven’t figured out how to do it yet.”
What are they able to do in season 4 that they couldn’t do before?
Chris: “Halfway through last season, when we had Chuck & Sarah together as a couple, what it allowed for us to do here in the fourth season is to make the show a relationship show. To not make it just a will they/won’t they, but to expand it out and to make it about this Chuck/Sarah relationship. And also with episode 9 of last season, bringing Morgan into the spy world, that allows us to put Chuck and Morgan out on missions together. The new Buy more is another exciting thing this season. It allows us to bring the spy world back into the Buy More, to have all these characters popping up organically. We’ve also been able to bring back guest stars from previous seasons.”
How will the mother issues this season effect Chuck?
Chris: “Like all mother issues, there’s always a lot of story and mythology to get into and figure out. As writers, there’s a lot of great material for us, and ther’es lots of great comedy material. The search for mom is going to be a very interesting, very emotional mythology for the show.”
What prompted them to (finally) make Bonita Friedericy a regular?
Chris: “Over the 3 seasons what originally began as a sort of Charlie voice over the box giving the mission, became an important character to the show. So as we worked on season 3 we started to have a lot of fun with the character, so by the end of the season you always saw something strange going on in the background. Going into season 4,w e realized we wanted more Bonita time, so we made her a series regular.”
What is Morgan’s view of Beckman compared to his view of Casey?
Josh: “Somewhere in his brain, Morgan fancies himself a ladies man. I don’t know why he thinks he can get away with it, but there’s a healthy sort of…I don’t want to say flirtation, but he thinks he’s charming. I don’t think he plays that game with Casey, but he does with Beckman. Bonita has such a great sense of humor. It’s so fun to throw this stuff at her and see how long she can keep a straight face. We have a great riff going in episode 2, I think. Morgan sort of showing Beckman his world.”
Chuck season 4 premieres Monday, September 20 at 8/7c.