It's no secret I've been thrilled to add NBC's Chuck to my beat this year. Though it was just another show I came late in the game to, when I finally tuned in, I fell hard for the somewhat bumbling super spy series. I have such a blast Monday after Monday, turning off the world around me and delving into Team Bartowski's for an hour, living vicariously through them as they jet-set around the world, get all decked out, play with cool technology, and take down bad guys. And yesterday, thanks to the awesome people at Warner Brothers and NBC, I got to spend a few hours actually in Castle, observing production on an upcoming special episode, interviewing the cast, and coveting their very many calibers of prop guns.
I arrived on the Warner Brothers lot in early afternoon, getting through security at the same time that Bonita Friedericy, aka General Beckman herself, was leaving for the day. I was bummed she had wrapped out early because she is one of my favorite characters, but I had a full day ahead of chatting with series stars and guest stars (in this case the trifecta of Robin Givens, Isaiah Mustafa and Stacy Keibler).
You will be able to read all of my on-set interviews with the cast here.
Sometimes you see a set in person and you can't help but be struck with how much smaller or dingier it looks than it does on TV, but that was not the case yesterday. The Castle set is unbelievably sleek and cool. Though I am used to seeing scaled-down versions due to lack of space or the interest in making the on-screen personas seem that much more larger than life or whatever, this was spacious enough to provide for wide, sweeping dolly camera moves that were impressive to watch in action but will probably just look smooth, natural and easy when the episode airs.
Because the main action of the day was "on the job," I wasn't able to spy in my own right around Chuck and Sarah's apartment, leave a copy of my book for Ellie to read mid-scene, or steal a Buy More businesscard. Probably better that way so I get invited back, though! There were also no big stunts happening, though Yvonne Strahovski proved just how little she needs a stunt double simply by stretching in between takes in amazing four-inch heeled boots that she says need refurbishing just about everyday she's on set because she runs so much she wears them down ridiculously quickly.
You all know how much I loved Tangled, and yesterday Zachary Levi gave me a little preview of his live show-- his big performance by singing in between takes. He might not have even realized he was doing it at first, but I caught a listen of an old Cole Porter track, as well as quite a few adlibs regarding Justin Bieber and comparisons to "a young Michael Jackson. Well, I guess Justin Timberlake was a young Michael Jackson, so a young, young Michael Jackson." It's great to see someone who can keep it light and have a sense of humor, even in stressful situations. A lot of Chuck is reminiscent in Levi in that way, it seems.
The gang joked with each other in between shots of a semi-serious scene and played a game they invented that involved flinging a tape measure out in front of them as far as they could without it hitting the ground. Tape measures are used on set for focal distance for the cameras (though we live in the digital age, the technology is still kind of expensive and oddly not as accurate as you might think, so many sets choose to "old-school" it)...and apparently to amuse actors. In case you're wondering, Levi holds that record so far. Is there anything he can't do??
Adam Baldwin was especially welcoming, and after we chatted in his trailer, he ended up inviting me onto the set to take photos with the gang, even playing photographer for the amazing snapshot posted above. It was my first time meeting him, as well as everyone else, and they proved to be just as cool and down-to-Earth as you'd imagine and hope. Which is a damn good thing because I've seen the kind of ass-kicking they can dish out, and I definitely don't think I could take 'em!
And I just have to point out that in addition to having one of the nicest groups of people (cast AND crew) working on the show, Chuck also has the most amazing mini chocolate chip cookies. Because you know where my priorities lie!