Zachary Levi, star of NBC's spy action comedy Chuck, told SCI FI Wire that he hopes to literally get in on the action when the show returns for a third season next year. "I just want to do more action, man," Levi said in an exclusive interview Thursday in Santa Monica, Calif.
"I want Chuck to kick some more ass, shoot some more guns," he said. "I've been sitting on the sidelines for two years watching Adam and Yvonne have all of the fun. Literally all I ever wanted to do since I was a kid was be in war movies. ... You run around in the backyard and go, 'Bang, you're dead!' And throwing dirt clods as hand grenades. So to really get to participate in the action more, as opposed to just running away or falling off a building or whatever, would be really awesome."
Levi spoke exclusively to SCI FI Wire at a Subway restaurant in Santa Monica, which was outfitted as a promotional event for Universal's Land of the Lost. The following is an edited version of that interview. Land of the Lost is being released in theaters June 5. Chuck returns to television in March.
Before it was renewed, was there a sense of anxiety, or were you zenlike about the future of Chuck?
Levi: I was pretty zenlike. This business is far too crazy to try and make sense of it, not that you can't on some level, but so much of it is just outside of your control. I mean, clearly I would have mourned a lot about not coming back, mostly just not being able to work with my crew, because they're so wonderful. So that's the biggest plus about coming back, is getting to work with those guys some more.
But it's a little frustrating, [because] when we got renewed our budget got slashed pretty significantly, so I'm just hoping that doesn't cripple us. I want to be able to continue to make the product that we're making, if not better; you're hoping that you can always make a better product, but the way television is working it's like in reverse now. It's like more and more they're cutting budgets, and not that I don't understand why—TiVo does not help us, even though I love TiVo—but hopefully a salve is going to come soon, because I don't know what's going to happen. That being said, I was at a place where if we're going to come back, then rock and roll, and if we're not going to come back, then rock and roll. But you have to; otherwise,you'll drive yourself crazy.
Had they talked to you about what might happen to your character in season three before the budget cuts, or talked to you about what changes might have to be made?
Levi: A little bit, and they are the same. They don't let me know too much, because I have a big mouth and I'll blow it, but I'm excited for it. The finale left us in a place where Chuck knows kung fu—or does he know kung fu? Or did he just know kung fu for a little while? And will he learn other things? What we're setting up with this new Intersect 2.0 is that it not only gives him informational flashes but physical flashes as well. But there's catches to it, and we'll find out about those in the third season. But it's going to lead to so many fun things, I think, in the missions and how we accomplish them.
And there will continue to be a lot of tension between Chuck and Sarah, which people love to hate to love, but that's TV, and it's good TV. There will be more love interests that kind of pop in and maybe even at the Buy More, stuff like that. But the great thing about Chuck is it's so multi-genred there are so many places to go with it. The thing that is hindering that is obviously the budgetary concerns. But [executive producer] Josh Schwartz tells me that they're on it, and they're going to do everything they can to make sure we're not sacrificing whatever quality we're at right now.
How much of season three have they mapped out, or how much do they typically map out ahead of time?
Levi: Right now we've only got a 13-episode pickup, so they're going to have that pretty much arced, I think, with ideas if we do get a back nine, where they would go with that. Because it's very frustrating from a writing standpoint, obviously, when you think you have a finale, and they go, "Oh, no, you've got a back nine." So you kind of have to pop up and go around again, but I know that by the time we start shooting they will have half of that order written already, or nearly done.
When do you start shooting?
Levi: The end of July, beginning of August. It affords time to hit the gym. But I know that they have a good idea where they want to go; it's just a matter of getting there.