A couple of days ago, Chuck star Adam Baldwin and co-creator Chris Fedak joined reporters on a conference call to talk about Friday’s finale and the five seasons that proceeded it. I Tweeted highlights from the call as it was happening, but now we have the full transcript for you to enjoy.
Q: What do we have to look forward to? I mean I’m asking an obvious question. What do I have to look forward to for the big finale?
Chris Fedak: Well yes, I’ll jump in first even though I will for most of this call always defer to Mr. Baldwin.
Adam Baldwin: You wrote it. You should tell them.
Chris Fedak: Well, I think that we have essentially an epic finale for you guys, and it’s going to be different than anything we’ve ever done before on the Chuck show. We knew that we were building toward our final episode and we really wanted to put together something special.
It’s going to be a two-hour finale. The first part of it is called “Chuck vs Sarah” and the second part’s called “Chuck vs the Good Bye”, and everything is at stake. It’s like all of our characters are at a crossroad, and it’s going to be interesting to see how it all falls out. But it’s definitely the biggest thing we’ve ever done on the Chuck show.
Adam Baldwin: Well, there’s some resolution there with his relationships that come into play which I found very heart warming and dangerous at the same time. So I appreciate it, but that was the thing about Casey. The biggest challenge for Chris and the writers is to keep him dangerous while at the same time being lovable, and I think they walked that fine line.
You know, I kept asking, well how do I play this guy down the line yet still maintaining within the realm of this romantic comedy. Basically, it was this dangerous romantic comedy, and Casey had to walk this line. So it was nice to get the personal aspects of his life really highlighted in the last couple of seasons. So I really appreciate it. I thought that was fun.
Chris Fedak: That was a real revelation for us is to watch not only what Adam did with Josh Gomez, but also what he did with Mckenna Melvin. I mean it’s just a – the more we saw of what our actors were going to do between each other and the building up the family part of the story was something that we really kind of wanted to follow and to see.
And there’s a moment in the finale which is kind of like the epitome of that where Casey is holding a sniper rifle, but he’s also … You know, Adam’s so fantastic that it’s also a heartbreaking moment. Very few people can look through a sniper rifle and also deliver something really heartbreaking. And it’s really a testament to what Adam has brought to the character of not just a stone cold sniper for the government, but also a heartwarming dad.
Q: Obviously it’s been a fun show for us to watch. It looks like it’s been a lot of fun to make over the years. What do you guys take away from this series?
Chris Fedak: I don’t know. Adam why don’t you take that one first?
Adam Baldwin: Yes. What I take away from Chuck first of all, a five-year run on any show these days is a true blessing and to have been able to go through it with people who are nice and creative and funny and hardworking and just lovable. I mean, we’re gypsies really in this business — we’re circus players — and we travel from town to town it seems like and we travel from family to family on different projects. So to land on one for five years has been a joy and, you know, it’s sad to see it go. But at least we have those five years together and we appreciated it while it was happening. So I just feel blessed and honored to have been a part of it.
Chris Fedak: That’s a great point. And I think the other thing, you know, going off your question this show was a lot of fun to make, but it was also an incredible challenge. It must be one of the most difficult shows to do especially in the amount of time we have. And to do something that challenging to work with such a great team is really, it’s fantastic. To have worked with a great team like this is really one you’re going to measure the rest of your career against.
Adam Baldwin: I don’t and I haven’t envied the work that writers have had to put in. They’re locked in basically in a cage and having to figure out how do we make this – how do we walk this tightrope and for them to have done that week in and week out for us has just been – what a great reward.
Q: Adam just out of curiosity, you know, you’ve played some very iconic roles now when people sees in you in the streets – when fans come up to you do you get more about Chuck or more about Firefly?
Adam Baldwin: It depends on if I’m holding my sniper rifle or not. [laughs] Yes, it’s both really. It’s a mixture of both. I think that they’re standalones and, you know, Firefly is what it is. It didn’t last nearly as long so there’s a great testament to — I can say this because this is a chuckle — I mean obviously clearly Fedak is a superior writer to Joss Whedon. The show lasted longer.
Chris Fedak: That can only get me into trouble. There’s no way I can even handle that. That’s radioactive.
Adam Baldwin: It’s just the proof is in the pudding.
Q: Chris, I wanted to ask about the experience of writing this finale simply because I think more than any other show perhaps in television history you guys have had to write season finales that were potentially series finales. So having done that how many times leading into this one how did that inform the experience of writing this one that you actually knew was definitively the end?
Chris Fedak: Well hopefully I’ve gotten good at it. [laughs] All the finales that we’ve kind of built before – we were hoping to come back. And so we wrote them in such a way that they implied a big new season coming next year or in a few weeks. And this time we knew that this was going to be our final episode. When NBC picked us up, they were very clear that this was going to be a 13-episode run and that this would be our final season. So when we started working on the finale, when we were writing it, it was much more of “this will be the final chapter”. This will be the final moment of this show and we need to resolve these stories that we’ve been working on for five seasons now. And that the finale isn’t so much a finale just for Season 5, it’s a finae to five seasons of the show. So it’s definitely different.
Now in regard to the writing of it that, was a panic attack on a daily basis. With the size and the scope of five seasons of the show, there were many days where it was like, it was hard to even look at the board in the writers room and then to consider the page. But it was something that I think that when we finally cracked the story and looked at it on the page, it was a big moment and there was a lot of emotion involved in a process that’s usually pretty solitary. But hopefully I’m not in too much of a mess, you know, getting out of it.
Q: Oftentimes writers have an idea for their final image or scene or whatever, you know, years in advance. My guess is because of the nature of the way Chuck worked that you guys probably didn’t store stuff up that way or did you?
Chris Fedak: You know, Josh and I had a couple of big moments that we wanted to get to in the show. We wanted to do the end of Season 2. We knew we wanted to bring Morgan into the spy world. We knew that we wanted to explore Casey’s back story and his family. And so we had these big moments that we kind of knew that we wanted to be part of the show each season.
In regard to the very final moment of this season, it was something that we came up with at the end of last season and it was a part of our pitch to NBC, for bringing us back. And so this year we knew we were heading toward this final moment of the show and so that was a year in the making.
ChuckTV.net: Hi guys. How are you?
Chris Fedak: Hello Mel.
Adam Baldwin: Hello.
ChuckTV.net: Chris, I didn’t know you were going to be on the call so I’m going to have to come up with a question for you…
Chris Fedak: Oh yes. Let me off easy.
ChuckTV.net: OK. Adam, when I let the fans know that we were going to be on the conference call with you today, the number one question that came in was where can we see you next? What are you doing next? We don’t want you off our screens. So do you have any plans for anything coming up?
Adam Baldwin: Well, we’re working on that. When you’re on a show for five years and then it ends, then you got to find another job so we’re in the process of looking and finding. It’s the beginning of pilot season. Hopefully we’ll land one of those. If not, there’s other things but it’s right now in the period we like to call being at liberty… So enjoying my freedom for now and then, you know, hopefully we’ll, you know, as soon as we know something we’ll say but you don’t want to jinx yourself. There are a lot of possibilities, but nothing in stone yet.
ChuckTV.net: Okay. So stay tuned?
Adam Baldwin: Right. Or you can put, you know, I’ll never work again. The actors lament, I’ll never work in this town again!
ChuckTV.net: That’ll give them something to talk about!
Adam Baldwin: Yes.
ChuckTV.net: It’s been such a pleasure to watch Casey’s growth over especially the last couple of seasons. What about Casey has really surprised you?
Adam Baldwin: What is it about the character that surprised me? Gee. That he has emotional ties to – I mean when Mekenna Melvin came on to play Alex, I think is when it really sparked with me. I kept bugging Chris, you know, is Casey ever going to meet his mom, what’s his back story. And Chris can tell how they found Mekenna, I’m sure it’s just an audition process.
But there was a certain spark with her that really it rekindled my love for the character himself because I was looking forward to sitting down with her and just – she’s just very inspirational to me. She’s a smart young woman. My daughter — I have a daughter who’s not much younger than she is — and it just was a joy to play that and that plus my evolving relationship with Morgan was just a pleasure to work with him as well. They’re all so fun, but when you see the height discrepancy between me and them on camera, it’s just hilarious.
Chris Fedak: That’s a great point. I think that the dynamic between Adam and Josh and Mekenna and Carrie-Anne this year, it’s just – he has an amazing chemistry with them – whoever we bring on to play opposite him. The Mekenna thing was a real discovery and also kind of an accidental discovery because we built an episode where we could explore Casey’s back story. And we cast Mekenna and she had one line. She said, “Dad.” That was it. So later that season we got an order for more episodes – we didn’t know that was coming and then we built an episode about her being kidnapped. It was really kind of like, do we bring her back in to have her do more lines? How is this going to work? We weren’t quite certain what the story was and she came in and she was fantastic.
And there was a scene actually from our finale of that season – we cut it out because of length – but there’s a moment where she growled back at her dad and we just thought, Oh, she’s fantastic! She’s not only great and emotional, but she’s funny in that same way that Adam brings to his role. He’s tough, but there’s also just like a great comic underpinning to that.
Adam Baldwin: Yes, she just fit right into the production like a glove. She just got the humor of Gomez and of Zac and Yvonne, and she just fit right in there with all of us, so it was just great casting.
Chris Fedak: It probably means there’s something very wrong about her too.
Q: Okay. Well I called the show from the beginning and I’ve loved every second of it. And I especially loved how Casey can make people laugh just by growling or grunting. So I’m just curious what it takes to play a character like that who is so tough, but at the same time is basically (built) as someone who can make you laugh just by doing that?
Adam Baldwin: Well, I learned a while ago to play the positive and with a grunt you can get away with a lot of different nuances. And again, the objective is to be – to win, then you can win no matter what you’re saying. And I don’t know. It’s funny to see it written on the page to Casey growls or grunts or it’s just inserted in there.
Chris Fedak: What’s funny is there are a number of different grunts and growls that Adam does, but we would never dare make that choice for him, you know.
Adam Baldwin: I like it when you actually write it down to make it director proof. Like “he growls with animosity”.
Chris Fedak: We try to get a little specific. But it was also a discovery in the pilot that there was a moment in the – there was a bridge scene in the pilot in the beginning of Act 5 and Adam was, you know, it was downtown Los Angeles at night and we’re shooting the scene and there was no growl in the scene. We didn’t know that was a part of the character yet and Adam growled halfway through the scene and we were like “did he just growl?” in the cut, it was just “we need the growl to be louder” and we just worked on it and it became a part of the character. That’s all Adam.
Adam Baldwin: Yes, you encouraged (me).
Q: Could you talk about what the atmosphere on set was like? How it was different filming this finale knowing it was a finale versus other seasons where you didn’t necessarily know if you were coming back?
Adam Baldwin: There were a lot of tears, a lot of emotion. I didn’t cry, but I watched a lot of other of the younger people cry being a cold-hearted bastard that I am. It was uplifting and bittersweet and yet it was a sense of accomplishment because we had against all odds persevered and been lucky enough and had the good graces of the network and the sponsors to keep us going, you know. And Chris can tell you the back story more than I can, but that was the sense on the set day in and day out was just that, you know, we made it five years when we didn’t even think we were going to make it past the first season let alone get picked up as a pilot. So while there were a lot of tears, they were tears of accomplishment and of a job well done.
Chris Fedak: I agree with everything that Adam just said, and I would also say that the tears were a real disaster. There was people crying at every, you know, for everything. You know, people would type into a computer, it would be the last time they were typing into a computer and they would start crying. So it was an emotional shoot. Thankfully we had the rock that is Adam Baldwin who doesn’t have emotions and we were able to do some scenes without constant crying.
Adam Baldwin: Makeup was on an extra detail on that last show.
Q: Now speaking of that, now John Casey when he started to used to be this “lone wolf by the rules agent” and to become a much more emotional family guy do you think that hurt him as an agent? I mean, it made him a more well-rounded person, but as an agent do you think it actually hurt him?
Adam Baldwin: Oh yes. He became a total pussy. No, I think there’s only so far you can go with a cold-hearted killer. How do make it – how do you keep a guy like that interesting within the confines of a comedy and I think the layers – I mean, the character could have easily been killed off at any moment if (he just) stayed in that realm I think. I mean, I don’t know if anyone agreed with that. I mean all characters are expendable as far as I’m concerned, except for Chuck, in a show called Chuck so I’m glad that they were able to find other ways for me to express myself.
Chris Fedak: Well, I think the thing of it is that if we had wanted simply a cold-blooded killer, you know, then we wouldn’t have cast Adam Baldwin. Because what Adam brings to the role is kind of the grit of the action hero but there’s something deep. There’s something, you know, Casey is in some ways a wounded passionate character. But it’s like, on top of that is this stone façade and that’s what Adam brings to the part and he’s also wicked funny. So that was something that, you know, a part of our show is it’s sentimentality, it’s emotion but it’s also humor, and Casey brings all those things together.
So, you know, for us, writing to the Casey character was very easy because we knew we had Adam who was always going going to extra soft. It wasn’t going to be just a grizzled, you know, screaming into a walkie-talkie, cut the red wire, cut the green wire. No, that’s not what this show is about, and Adam personified that, and I think that was something we knew from the pilot process is that Casey was that if Casey was simply just a hard-nosed action hero, that character would have probably not been as important to the show.
Adam Baldwin: Yes and also Fedak and the writers were smart to not craft him so much as the “speechifier”. The, you know, the exposition deliverer although he did that on occasion I think. They really saved Casey’s MO character-wise, which I think helped him. You get sick of a guy speechifying all the time, I think.
Chris Fedak: Absolutely.
Q: So I wanted to ask you both, is there anything that you two wanted to do that you didn’t get to do with the show?
Chris Fedak: You know, it’s funny. I think that if we had ended at the end of Season 1, there was certainly things that I would have wanted to do. But I think that we’ve really gotten to do a lot of it. We’ve really gotten to do – like in our final episode, we have an amazing skydiving sequence that we actually – we shot using a real skydiver, up in the air. I think that was something that we always wanted to do.
But 91 episodes really gave me the opportunity to kind of write a bunch of different types of things. I think that there was always a chance that we could have had more money and more time than, you know, we could have built out action sequences into some bigger things. But I think that the most important thing for me was that we were able to kind of do a lot of the character stuff that we had planned to do – the Chuck/Sarah relationship. And if we hadn’t been able to do any part of that – Chuck and Sarah getting married, hooking up, or Adam and Mekenna – that would have been really disappointing to me. So in some ways it’s like, I’m excited that we were able to do all of the big emotional stuff that we wanted to do.
Adam Baldwin: Now, Chris I was — had we, you know, this is just fantasizing because there’s that 91 number — had we gotten a back 9 and gone on to 100 episodes, would Alex and Morgan have had a kid and would that have then made grandpa Casey? Because if that’s the case, I would prefer that you just kill me.
Chris Fedak: [laughs] Yes. No, I don’t think we’re going down the grandpa route quite yet. I think that would have been a little fast for us. But killing the Casey character, that is something Adam and I have argued about quite a bit. But maybe we shouldn’t talk about that because the finale’s still upcoming.
Adam Baldwin: Right.
Q: As a follow up to that, is there any moment or moments in this fifth season, or any of the seasons, that you guys are particularly proud of?
Adam Baldwin: Gosh, particularly proud of. That’s really hard to pinpoint. I’m proud of being able to keep a straight face as much as I can when Zac is working, because he’s so damn funny. And there were a lot of moments where we would, you know, lose composure and laugh. I’m proud of, geez, proud of surviving scenes being eaten alive by Carrie-Anne Moss. I think that was pretty great. She’s a tigress and I mean that in the best sense of the word. She’s great, professional.
I was really honored to work with another icon and she really – because when you work with someone, you want them to have their feet planted firmly on the ground and have good sensibility and be sane. And she’s a lot like I am in the sense that she’s, you know, she got a family and she’s grounded and it’s completely professional. I’d say I take a lot of pride in holding my own with Carrie-Anne Moss. How’s that?
Chris Fedak: I think that’s great. If I was supposed to answer the question of what I’m most proud of it, I think that just 91 episodes of this crazy television show called Chuck. There have been so many moments where we’ve, you know, we’ve just kind of sat back and looked at the show. And it’s an action comedy and there’s lots of those, but in some ways it’s a whole unique show. And it’s been a pleasure to do it and it’s been an honor to work with our cast and our crew and that’s what I guess I’m most proud of. And now thinking back, if I could have done one thing over again, I think we would definitely have had to have gotten Casey into the Speedo.
Adam Baldwin: And I’m proud of the fact that I didn’t do that. I’m proud of the fact that didn’t happen.
Q: My first question is for the both of you, what’s your favorite and most memorable episode or scene during, you know, the past five seasons and why?
Adam Baldwin: Jesus!
Chris Fedak: It’s really difficult. Usually there’s great seasons, you know, it’s not each episode. There’s always something that, you know, kind of like just amazes us or excites us or comes together in such a great way. I guess…
Adam Baldwin: …12 I think.
Chris Fedak: I’m sorry, what?
Adam Baldwin: Season 3, Episode 12 I think would probably be the one. I don’t know.
Chris Fedak: I’m actually trying to bring – oh yes, okay. Yes, no it’s kind of an impossible question. You know, it’s like there’s just been so many things that we’ve done. But I think that it’s the character stuff. It’s those character moments where there’s simply character surprises. It’s Chuck and Sarah in the hotel room in Season 2. It’s making out for the first time. It’s Chuck saving Sarah from Shaw in Season 3. It’s Casey going on the lam to protect his family in Season 3.
Those episodes where you see that Casey is driven to, you know, that there’s one thing maybe even before God and country and that’s his family. That’s an amazing moment, and to put that character in that situation is something we really wanted to see and do and Adam killed it. And that was a real moment in Season 3 of the show, and also kind of launched that component to his character, of his daughter and his family. We certainly loved exploring them.
Q: Okay. And my second question is what are you guys going to miss the most when the show wraps up?
Chris Fedak: Free lunch.
Adam Baldwin: Being waved through at the guard gate.
Chris Fedak: It’s the small things we’ll miss.
Adam Baldwin: Yes. Now what we’re going to miss are the faces of the crew and the unsung heroes, I think. You know, the cast members, they get some of the glory while being on TV but, you know, we have relationships with the crew members who don’t get on camera, that you guys don’t know except by the credits that roll at the end of the episode, and they’re really loving, wonderful people. That’s what we’re going to miss the most, I think, is that family.
Chris Fedak: Absolutely, the family.
Adam Baldwin: We’ll miss the trip to Comic Con, too.
Chris Fedak: So much fun.
Adam Baldwin: Yes, it was great.
Q: Not to ask a downer question, but there are any plot developments that you guys wish hadn’t been done?
Chris Fedak: Interesting. Yes, well Adam do you want to go first?
Adam Baldwin: It’s a one word answer, yes.
Q: You don’t wish to elaborate?
Adam Baldwin: I’m just going to put an ellipsis on the end of that and walk away.
Chris Fedak: All right. I like that. I think I’ll just mull over what Adam’s “yes” means. But I think that in the end, some things worked great and some things worked out okay. I’m glad we explored all aspects of the show that we explored though.
Q: And is there any – this may be too much of a spoiler, but is there any breaking of the fourth wall at the very end to have the actors say anything directly to the audience or you Mr. Fedak and Mr. Schwartz for that matter?
Chris Fedak: Oh, God no. You don’t see either Josh or myself, you know, on television. I think that the one item I can promise is no, there’s no direct address and it’s not all a dream.
Adam Baldwin: Yes, right. Well, I mean the risk of looking at the camera and breaking the fourth wall like that is that you blow the illusion of the world that you’re living in. I mean the guy’s got a computer in his head, so continue to keep that believable. You can’t have him just stare at the camera and talk to the audience. That would be outrageous.
Q: Adam, I have to say, you know, you must have some kind of secret voodoo thing going on because I saw you on that a repeat of Angel and you look the same. You look just as young there as you do here and in other things. So what is your secret so looking so young continually?
Adam Baldwin: Clean living pal. Clean living.
Q: Well that’s the way it works. I have to ask, is Casey a character that you’re going to miss out of all the ones you’ve played before in other series?
Adam Baldwin: I think it’s fair to say that while I will miss Casey, he was a fully developed character that got five whole seasons and 91 episodes to arc through. So again I go back to the sense of accomplishment with him. So I would say that while I will miss it, I won’t miss it as much as other characters that have been short circuited where I, you know, would have liked to explored further. So again it’s kind of an apples and oranges comparison. So yes and no.
Q: Chris, this has been a long journey. We read about all the times you almost didn’t make it, almost didn’t make it home without aid. Why do you think the fans have been so loyal to keep the show on the air for the five seasons?
Chris Fedak: I think the Chuck show spoke to people. I think it’s about an everyman who steps up to the plate and decide to be a hero. But he still remained a good guy. Still remained the Chuck Bartowski that people fell in love with in Season 1.
And I think the other thing about the show is that it’s about a family. It’s about a group of people who come together and they kind of flow in the family unit. And all of my favorite TV shows growing up were kind of about that. And I just can’t imagine a better family than this group, from Casey to Chuck to Morgan to Sarah, to everyone involved in it. So I think tha it was a lot of things for people to kind of lock onto and to kind of fall in love with.
Adam Baldwin: Let me jump in on that. My manager said to me, at the very beginning of the show when we were worried about being picked up and what not he says, “Look, the show’s called Chuck. If they fall in love with the guy who’s playing Chuck, you’ll continue. If they don’t, they won’t.” And they did. I mean that’s one of the main reasons why Zac Levi is such a great guy is that he was able to capture that audience and make them fall in love with him hard enough to stick around. And so this is my “I love Zachary Levi” speech in case you didn’t know.
Chris Fedak: And the amazing thing about that performance — about Zac’s performance — is it’s kind of like all of our actors are forced to do two things: they’re all forced to do not simply be an action hero, but for Zac it is to become the hero of the show but also to be the everyman. That’s an amazing skill set to be able to be funny, but also mature into the hero of the show. That’s a tightrope that only a couple of guys can walk and Zac’s one of them.
Q: Chris, how do you see the finale potentially fitting in with early seasons of the show in terms of where things wind up?
Chris Fedak: Well, I think that the finale is definitely an answer to a lot of the character stories that we’ve been building for five seasons. Everyone in this finale is going to be forced to make a decision in regard to what their future is going to hold and, you know, what have they learned over the past five seasons of the show. The finale answers those questions. It’s about where we’re going to finally land with these characters and what they’ve discovered.
I think that if you look at the finale as if it’s two hours, the first hour is very much about Season Five and then the second hour is very much about the show as a whole.
Q: Are you guys glad that there was a sense of survival with the show coming back each year rather than being so successful and just leaving abruptly?
Chris Fedak: I think we — I’ll speak for Adam on this — I think we would have loved a giant successful blockbuster show. I mean, you know, it’s like if we had the opportunity, it could have been easier for us. If we had a giant rating, and it was always obvious that we were going to be coming back for another season. There’s benefits to that that we were never really allowed to enjoy in regard to how the show worked.
I think the benefit of being on the bubble was that we told a lot of story. You know, we never held anything. We always were ready to throw the kitchen sink or whatever the new kitchen sink was into the story because we didn’t know if we were going to be coming back for another season. But it does make things a little bit traumatic for your digestion when you’re always on the bubble.
Adam Baldwin: I agree.
Chris Fedak: We’re going to do a hit show next. That’s what Adam and I are going to do.
Q: My question is how do you feel, Adam, that you’ve grown as an actor in your time with the show? And then Chris, you know, how do you feel you’ve grown as a writer on both on the creative team?
Adam Baldwin: I’ve streamlined the ability to be cranky and funny at the same time. I have a shorthand that can get me there more quickly. And maybe I guess my patience has also increased which I’m constantly striving for is to increase my patience with all things in life. Not that there’s any extraordinary strain on patience from this particular show as compared to other shows. It’s just that the patience that I have had has been able to manifest itself in the confines of what this, was which was a marathon. I always think of series television as a marathon.
This was a five-year marathon whereas my experience previous to this has been less than one season or only one full season. I did a show with one full season and so there was that. So for five seasons able to carry that again patience through is important for actors – for any actor. I think it’s important to have that so that’s how I’ve grown. Just on a technical, personal note. And, I don’t know, they gave me a lot of fun shit to do, too.
Chris Fedak: Working in television is a study in collaboration. And I think over five seasons of the show, the great collaboration of working with other writers as well as our cast and crew has been an education for me. And I’ve just loved the people I’ve gotten to work with, and to explore these characters and this genre with a whole bunch of people was a lot of fun and I’ve been spoiled. The thought of writing by myself now is much more daunting than it was. When you get to work with great people it really — it’s a much better — it’s a great creative process.
The two-part Chuck series finale airs Friday, January 27 at 8/7c on NBC.