Yes, I’m a late adapter and only took a seat at the Twitter table about a year after my hippest friends did. Marni, for example, already had over 1,000 followers (sorry, tweeps), by the time I had my first. While initially I didn’t really grasp the full raison d’etre of expressing myself in 140 characters or less to an anonymous gaggle of e-associates—feeling no one would really care if I’d had a Cobb salad for lunch (“swapped the blue cheese for feta, and the meat for tofu”)—soon I began to get it. Not long after my second twitterversary, I experienced a tweeting highlight when I randomly asked if anyone “out there” had any questions for my upcoming interviewee, Yvonne Strahovski, star of NBC’s Chuck, the voice of Miranda Lawson in the Mass Effect video game series, and vocal animal rescue crusader. And yes, of course, I concluded my tweet as we twitter-bugs do, with a simple #YvonneStrahovski. (God bless the hashtag, the universal symbol for “Join in on the conversation!”) Less than a minute later, I thought I’d been attacked by some kind of weird virus and that Twitter was going twitter-bananas on me. But no, it was simply Twitter in action: a plethora of Yvonne fans jumping at the chance to talk to her, via me and Modern Dog magazine. So, here you have it, tweeps. Oh, and for what it’s worth #YvonneStrahovskiRocks.
MD: Your parents are from Poland, but where are you from originally?
YS: I was raised in Australia. I’m actually the first and only Australian in my entire family, because I have no siblings.
MD: So Polish was spoken around the home when you were growing up in Australia?
YS: Yes, definitely. It was technically my first language. Even today, I email in Polish, I text in Polish.
MD: Your father is an electronic engineer and your mother is a lab technician, which are admittedly left-brain occupations. When did you determine you wanted to pursue a life in the arts, as an actor?
YS: Even though they have left-brain occupations, my parents are both very creative. I took my first drama classes when I was 12. I was always making home videos and doing these little sketches. Sure, they didn’t really like the idea of me being an actress as a career and initially they tried to steer me in another direction. But once they realized my dedication to it, they were 100 percent supportive.
MD: How fortunate do you feel to have landed the role of Sarah Walker on NBC’s Chuck?
YS: I feel incredibly fortunate. I feel like I have one of the best TV characters around. Chuck is a lot of different genres in one show. Comedy, drama, romance.
MD: What have you learned about yourself as an actor, having a gig on an award-winning series like Chuck?
YS: It’s been four-and-a-half years and I’ve learned a lot. It’s such a time-consuming process, creating a one-hour drama. We try to shoot an episode every seven days, which means we are working between 12- and 18-hour days. I’ve learned about the importance of pacing yourself. There’s a lot of stamina involved. I learned I can push myself to the absolute limits. I’ve learned about being consistent under the most dire circumstances. That’s the real acting. No matter how much we work, life happens and reality happens. You have to push through.
MD: Was altering your last name from Strzechowski to Strahovski a tough decision for you, considering the pride you have in your heritage?
YS: Yes, it was. It was originally presented to me by one of the show’s producers. They thought it was going to be a nightmare expecting people to be able to pronounce my name. I think they presented Yvonne Striker or something like that. I was originally very uncomfortable with it. I like things to remain organic, from food to the way I live my life. So, it was struggle for me. I tried to think of other alternatives, but in the end, I decided on the phonetic spelling of my real name.
MD: You recently had the opportunity to work with some really big names in your new movie, The Killer Elite. Tell us a bit about working with the great Robert DeNiro.
YS: It was amazing. It was definitely something I’ve always wanted to do. Really, most actors would want to. I just didn’t think it would happen so early on in my career. It was an extremely exciting experience. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. Even though I had to for the scenes. He has a very welcoming energy, he’s extremely sweet.
MD: I understand you have a couple of fur-kids. What do you do with Chazzie and Wilbur when you’re on set?
YS: They often come to the set with me. If they’re not at work, they are at home with my boyfriend because we have different schedules. But I like bringing them on location with me, especially if we’re shooting in more natural areas, like on a ranch or some place like that.
MD: Were you always an animal person?
YS: Yes, I have always been an animal lover. From day one. My parents didn’t let me have a dog growing up, and oh, I used to beg. But they would never cave. So it was always guinea pigs and a rabbit. As soon as I moved out here to L.A., I decided, well, I guess I can get that dog now!
MD: Can you tell us how Chazzie and Wilbur came into your life?
YS: I always knew I wanted to adopt, so eventually I ended up on PetFinder. com. It’s an amazing site. Everyone who is looking for a new pet should go on this site. I’m big on stopping puppy mills. It’s so easy to find an animal on PetFinder, no matter the breed or the size… and so that’s how I found Chazzie. I even had the rescue organization come to my house to make sure I was going to be a responsible parent. With Wilbur, a friend of mine was volunteering to foster him. So we made a playdate. And that was that. He had originally been found on a highway with about 48 ticks all over his body. So, I got Chazzie first, and then I wanted a friend for him. They are the best of friends; they get upset when they are separated.
MD: A very crucial question: Who would play Chazzie and Wilbur in the movie of their lives?
YS: Chazzie would be played by Joe Pesci in Home Alone. And Willy would be played by Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber.
MD: How has having dogs as a part of your family changed you?
YS: Having dogs, especially for people with high-stress lives, really brings you down to earth. It’s also nice to be responsible for something. It’s nice to take care of something.
MD: You recently starred in a campaign with PETA, under the headline “Always adopt. Never buy.” Why is that message so important to you?
YS: As far as I know, of the millions of homeless dogs available, only about half get adopted. There are at least 4 million dogs who need to be adopted [in the United States]. A lot of people who are buying dogs at stores don’t really know where these dogs come from. It’s kind of like when they buy food… we need to be educating people to care where things come from. For example, where does your fur jacket come from? It’s about raising awareness and making an educated decision. There are millions of dogs just sitting there, waiting to be adopted. People think they’re not going to find what they are looking for but I would urge people to go on PetFinder.com. Just type in what you want in a pet and I guarantee you’re going to find something super cute.
MD: What inspired you to get into the rescue movement?
YS: As I was looking into adopting, as I was educating myself, I didn’t realize the numbers of homeless animals were so high. I feel, as an actor, as someone in the public eye, it’s my responsibility to help out in whatever ways I can. People follow me on Twitter, they look at what I do in my spare time. So it’s important.
MD: The premise of the “Always adopt. Never buy.” campaign is an invitation for people to “Be an angel for animals.” In your view, what are some of the ways we can be an angel for animals?
YS: I think the biggest thing we can do when it comes to anything that’s animal-related is to ask questions. Where did this come from? How did this come to me? You can make educated choices.
MD: How would we say “Always adopt. Never buy.” in Polish?
YS: Zawsze adoptuj, nigdy nie kupuj.