Spy Games with Chuck star Yvonne Strahovski

Yvonne is featured in the April issue of Saturday Night Magazine with a new interview and exclusive photoshoot (posted below). You can order a copy by emailing SNMag.com.

As sexy spy Sarah Walker on NBC’s hit series Chuck (Monday, 8 p.m.), Yvonne Strahovski knows a thing or two about keeping her real life a mystery. After all, the 5’ 9” beauty is actually from Australia (and of Polish descent), which she covers with a well-executed American accent on the show. As her infectious laugh rings out on our shoot at West Hollywood’s Chamberlain Hotel, you also might not know that she spends most of her time shooting late into the night, rarely finding a moment for some well-deserved downtime. Still, she refuses to disappoint the show’s many loyal fans who return week after week desperate to find out what will happen between Sarah and Chuck. So what does the new season have in store? Strahovski took a break from filming to clue us in.

SNMag: Why were you first drawn to Chuck and the character of Sarah?
Yvonne Strahovski: What drew me in the beginning is that it was such a fun little mix of comedy and action. It caught my attention because there’s nothing really like this on TV right now. I feel really lucky to be playing a character like Sarah. She gets to be part of the funny role and the dramatic romantic role, and she’s also a kick ass spy. Initially, when I read it she came off as a very strong, intelligent woman, and it’s great to play somebody like that.

As an Australian, is it difficult to always have do an American accent for the show?
Australia is saturated with American culture with the television shows that we have down there. Living here, I’m surrounded by it. I never hear Australian accents so it’s easy for me to go into the American accent, the rhythm of it. It’s kind of second nature now. Now, when I read scripts, I read it in an American accent.

How do you manage the physical demands of the role? Do you do all the stunts yourself?
I like to do the stunts. It’s one of my favorite parts of the show. I grew up pretty athletic and was always sort of a tomboy. I was a dancer as well, so to me it’s kind of like learning a dance routine. We get to do some pretty cool stuff, and I do have to maintain a certain level of fitness. I’ll hike and try to do some exercise here and there when I have time and we’re not shooting so many hours a week.

What’s coolest stunt you’ve gotten to do yourself?
There’s a fight scene coming up that we haven’t done yet and it’s going to be one of my favorite fight scenes. The other stunt that I did was jumping off that clock tower in an earlier episode of the season where we sort of ziplined down a power line. That was really cool.

What is the mood like on set? How do you like working with Zach Levi?
The mood is very jovial on set. We’re always sort of laughing and making jokes. It’s a really great cast. We’re very lucky to have such a fun cast and crew. Everybody’s so hard working, and we spend so much time with each other and we all get along.

Can you tell us anything about what’s in store for Chuck and Sarah?
Things develop a little further, obviously. They now have different love interests. You see Chuck end his love interest. The story unfolds a little bit more with Shaw and Sarah. I think she connects to Shaw because of their similarities and because they both lost people they’d loved in the spy world. At the end of the day, the Chuck and Sarah thing is an ongoing thing.

It was recently revealed that Sarah’s real name is Sam. We hear you came up with the name. Why Sam?
It was just the first thing I thought of in my head. I had been thinking about it beforehand, and I liked that Sam can be a girly name but it’s also a bit boyish. It was simple so that to me felt like it should be Sarah’s real name.

What do you make of Chuck’s strong fan base? Was that something that you anticipated?
No, that was all new to me. We’ve been to all the Comic-Cons and the response that we get is unbelievable. It’s the most rewarding thing for us when we’re cooped up day shooting the show. It really becomes real when we see the reactions of these people at these conventions. We see the fans line up or when they see us and they see footage from the show. It’s crazy how dedicated they are.

Any crazy fan stories?
Not really. I’ve had people give me stuff, teddy bears and things.

We know you’re constantly voted onto these “Sexiest Women” lists. What’s your feeling as being looked at as a sex symbol?
I think it’s a mixture of being flattered and a little bit uncomfortable at the same time. It’s not something I think of when I do my job. I go to play a character, tell a story and this sexy stuff is not something I have any control over. It’s always nice to hear that, but I certainly don’t think of myself that way so it’s kind of like, “Oh, people think that?”

You moved from Australia to Los Angeles when you signed on to do the show. What was that adjustment like?
It was really hard because when I came here, it was originally meant to be a two month trip. I didn’t know I was staying here, so when I got the job, I had nothing except a suitcase of clothes. It took me a year before I went back home to Australia. It was like starting a whole new life. Find a place to live, buy furniture, a car. You don’t know anybody so it’s kind of like starting school all over again.

What are some of your favorite places you’ve discovered in L.A.?
I really love a lot of the canyons – Mandeville Canyon in particular. I love the restaurants too. Comme Ca is one of my favorites. The salmon tartare there is excellent. I also love going down to the Huntington Dog Beach.

What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
Go out for dinner and hang out with my girlfriends. Usually, we film until late Friday night or Saturday morning, and I’ll sleep through Saturday and then we’ll go out and have a girls night and gossip, catch up.

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