Chuck stars Ryan McPartlin & Sarah Lancaster joined reporters for a conference call in advance of next week’s Awesome/Ellie-centric episode, “Chuck vs. the Coup d’Etat”, fielding questions about the impending Awesome Baby, their characters’ mothers, and lots more.
The set up for our next encounter with Costa Gravas’ Generalissimo Goya (played by Armand Assante), is that Ellie is feeling constrained by impending motherhood. Much like Devon’s restlessness about being stuck in a rut as newlyweds last season, Ellie feels restless about becoming so domesticated.
“We were thrilled to have Armand back, first and foremost,” Sarah said. “Ellie’s feeling like we’re already go down the route of home all the time, and the baby might as well already be here. She feels like she needs a little excitement in her life, she’s feeling a little too overly-babied. It just so happens that the Generalissimo calls on Captain Awesome again, and invites him down to a ball thrown in his offer. But this being Chuck, nothing goes as planned, and hijinks ensue!”
Ryan kept cracking up when talking about Armand Assante as Generalissimo Goya, particularly in how he acts around Ellie.
“He takes it very seriously, he’s very committed to his role. Especially when he was dancing with Sarah Lancaster last season,” Ryan laughed. “The Generalissimo hitting on Ellie always makes it pop. There’s some really good one-liners coming up. You’ll see!”
“He does have a lot of affection for Ellie,” Sarah chuckled.
NBC had just released the photos for this episode while we were on the call, so we got to tease Ryan about the 10-foot statue the Generalissimo has erected in Captain Awesome’s honor. Ryan was pleased that Zachary Levi was jealous of the statue, since Ryan is jealous of so many things Zac gets to do on the show.
“It was surreal, but it’s one of those things that I’ll look back on and be like, ‘What kind of crazy show was I on?’ But I kind of want that statue for my backyard.”
Ryan revealed that the construction of the statue caused some creative differences in the writers’ room, much to his amusement.
“You know what my favorite part is? The fact that the writers couldn’t agree if I had a shirt on or off,” Ryan laughed. “The argument was that, ‘Well, he’s a doctor,Â he’d have his shirt on.’ ‘Well, it’s a statue, of course he’d have it off.’ So they put the most skintight shirt that you could still see the muscles. It’s ridiculous!”
Fans have been hoping to see some Ellie/Sarah bonding this season, especially now that Sarah and Chuck are officially official. Unfortunately so far that isn’t part of the story, although Sarah has some ideas on how to make it happen.
“I think Yvonne and I would both be excited about that, it’s just a matter of the writers bringing it together. You never see any of Ellie’s friends or other girlfriends, so I don’t know, maybe [Sarah Walker] would have to do the baby shower. She’d have no idea how to do that!”
“Just having those two on screen at the same time would definitely boost our ratings,” Ryan predicted.
Sarah acknowledged that Ellie and Awesome’s journey to marriage and parenthood is a “right in your face visual” for Sarah Walker.
“She’s always having to decide which way her life is going to go, which way she’s going to be pulled.”
Ryan agreed, “We are a mirror of what should be normal life, but then we get tangled up in the spy life, too.”
We won’t see them as involved in the spy world as we did last season when Awesome went on missions with Chuck. Sarah admitted that her ego might cause her to want to be out there with a gun, going on missions, but for the storyline as a whole, she feels it is important that the dichotomy of Chuck’s spy world and Chuck’s home life be portrayed.
“I think the Ellie character is best suited to not know and not participate [in the spy stuff]. I think the writers agree with me, but that said, they’re great writers and they could flip that around and I’d be happy to wield a gun and try shooting somebody,” she said. “I do think that even though some of the moments are few and far between, I look forward to those moments I have with Zac where it takes the show down a notch and grounds it. I think the show would be lacking something if those moments weren’t there.”
Ryan chimed in that as much fun as blowing up cars and shooting missles might be, it’s those moments with “the family” that the audience can really relate to and make Chuck something special. It’s the family focus that will likely save Chuck from Ellie’s wrath when she inevitably finds out that he’s still in the spy game.
“The biggest issue at hand is the Mom situation, so I think that is going to override Ellie’s anger or frustration over finding out [about Chuck's job],” she said. “Everything’s been really focused on family and the extent of what the secrets were. It makes Ellie question growing up what she thought was right, what she thought was real, what was really going on. Obviously at the same time as she’s pregnant herself, it’s bringing up a lot of stuff. Maybe making her a little bit softer than she otherwise would have been about the possibility of her mother coming back.”
Babies are on the brain, obviously. Ryan is a fairly new dad himself, so at one point he went off on a tangent about not microwaving baby bottles and mentioned that he’s your go-to guy for car seat recommendations.
“If my character is anything like me in real life, I’m going to be as neurotic as I am in real life raising this [fictional] baby,” Ryan teased.
“Oh no! Somebody help me now!” Sarah laughed.
It’s difficult to convey just how much fun the two of them are to interview together. They’re so comfortable with and admiring of each other, that you quickly understand why Ellie and Devon seem perfect for each other on screen despite their respective neuroses. The easy comeraderie – Ryan refers to Sarah as “Lancaster” and frequently comments on what a great character Ellie is, and the affectionate teasing is abundant -Â makes you want to hang out with them all day.
It does present a challenge in translating those teasing moments into print, however. Kind of a “you had to be there” situation. For example, the baby belly makes its first appearance in the next episode, and Ryan lamented that Sarah won’t let him rub it.
“It’s not a Buddha belly!” Sarah exclaimed. “It’s not a good luck charm!”
Sarah thinks Ellie should discover that being a mother isn’t quite as easy as she expects. She thinks Awesome should be awesome at being a parent, as he is with everything else, but Sarah likes playing Ellie when she kind of loses it, when she comes undone. The comedic potential in Ellie struggling a little bit with motherhood appeals to Sarah, so she hopes that’s the direction the writers take.
The inevitable question about how much fun they have on set came up, and both agreed that it is a fun place to work.
“Usually if Josh Gomez is on set with us, it brings the level up,” Ryan noted.
“I love my boys,” Sarah said. “My boys make me laugh. I still feel like the mother hen. My character isn’t that far from my reality.”
Speaking of Joshua Gomez, in an interview last month, he predicted that the Awesome Baby would be born with a tiny beard.
“Wouldn’t that be a great scandal,” Sarah crowed.
“No, not at all,” groused Ryan. “Gomez lives in a fantasy world that is beyond our comprehension. Let him have his little jokes and I’ll keep Ellie as my wife and having my baby.”
“No, the baby will not have a beard. The baby will have washboard abs and be full of Awesomeness,” Sarah soothed, chuckling.
Speaking of her “boys”, Sarah’s voice is noticeably affectionate when asked about working with Zachary Levi and portraying the loving sibling relationship between Ellie and Chuck.
“I have always felt a real affection for Zachary. I adore that man,” Sarah said. “It’s really been there since the moment I came in to read with him. You just sort of have that with some people, it’s unexplainable. Not taking a part from the fact that he’s an amazing individual and super talented, it’s just chemistry and sometimes it’s instant. I have a younger brother, and there’s similarities there in his physical stature, so playing those moments with Zac, maybe it’s a little bit of my personal life, but at the end of the day it’s just chemistry and Zac and I have it.”
One reporter’s turn finally came and she confessed that most of her questions had already been answered. Ryan offered to ask Sarah a question for her. The reporter declined, but you know I couldn’t pass that up! I lucked out and got to ask a second round of questions, which turned out to be the last of the call, and asked Ryan what he wanted to ask Sarah.
“I was gonna say, all this chemistry talk with you and Zac, what the viewers really want to know is what’s your chemistry like with Captain Awesome off-screen,” Ryan asked, with mock seriousness.
Sarah started laughing part-way through the question, so it took her a moment to answer:
“Ryan and I have merged into a married couple. We spend all of our time together on set, our trailers are next door, we socialize outside of set, we get into squabbles…”
“Hold on a second,” Ryan interrupted. “Married couples range from very happily married to being at each other’s throats. Why don’t you get a little more specific here.”
“I said we get into little squabbles, like married couples do, but at the end of the day, I’ve got nothing but love for him,” Sarah retorted.
They ended the call laughing and teasing, “a little glimpse into the real life world of Awesome and Ellie.”
- New Chuck writer Kristen Newman wrote this episode.
- They know the sex of the Awesome Baby, but they aren’t telling yet.
- Although Ryan & Sarah have talked baby names, they haven’t suggested any to the writers.
- We scooped yesterday that Morgan Fairchild returns in 4.06 as Honey Woodcomb.
- Ryan has suggested a story to the writers, which they liked, but he was mum on the details in case they decide to use it.
Watch a new episode of Chuck, featuring Ryan McPartlin and Sarah Lancaster, Monday, October 11 at 8/7c on NBC. As Ryan said, “Chuck is a natural anti-depressant.” C’mon, get happy!