On NBC’s CHUCK, now in its fourth season on Mondays at 8 PM, Zachary Levi may play the title spy with Intersect-given superpowers, but it’s Chuck’s brother-in-law Devon Woodcomb, played by Ryan McPartlin, who is nicknamed – without irony – Captain Awesome. There’s good reason for this: Devon is the perfect doctor, friend, boyfriend-turned-husband and now dad to baby Clara (Chuck’s niece). He’s also pretty awesome in appearance, which the other characters remark upon with regularity.
Chicago native McPartlin seems to take everything in stride as easily as Devon does, sounding happy and relaxed as he talks about the character he’s played for four years.
ASSIGNMENT X: When did you find out that Devon/Captain Awesome was going to learn the big secret about Chuck being a spy?
RYAN McPARTLIN: I knew before it happened, but I wasn’t prepared for what it meant. You do these things, you read the script and you go, “Okay, I’m going to show up and do my job,” but the significance of it is like, when I show up at events [for press and/or fans] and everybody’s like, “Oh, my God, you were the first to know.” I’m like, “Yeah, that’s pretty cool, isn’t it?”
AX: Were you pleased or disappointed when Awesome decided that he didn’t want to be involved in the spy world?
McPARTLIN: You know, at the end of the day, it just made sense for the story. Awesome would be a good spy, there’s no doubt about it, but it’s not fair to Ellie, and it’s not fair to the fact that he’s really trying to have a happy family and I can connect with that. There are certain things you do and you prioritize, and I think Captain Awesome would be a lesser man if he didn’t prioritize his family over adventure and wanting to be in the spy world.
AX: Did you enjoy the scenes where you were running and jumping?
McPARTLIN: Oh, yeah. When Angie Harmon held me over a cliff – I say, if you’re staring death in the face and that face is Angie Harmon, it’s not so bad [laughs]. Yeah, it’s cool. It was a lot of fun, we had a great time.
AX: Now, you, playing Awesome, and Sarah Lancaster as Ellie and Joshua Gomez as Morgan did those commercials that seemed like they were part of the episodes that turned out to be ads that simultaneously promoted the Olympics, Honda cars and CHUCK.
McPARTLIN: Yeah, the Honda crossover – I like the fact that they’ve become as creative as they are, where they’re still telling a story. I have no problem doing that. I have no problem having fun and telling a story and pitching a product, because in the old days, you’d stop and turn to the camera and be like, “Okay, here’s the soap we’re selling.” Well, now, they’re doing it in creative and inventive ways and if that’s what keeps our show on the air, then that’s what we’ve got to do. The advertisers have become smart that way, to be included in the creative process.
AX: How did you feel about the show’s chances of coming back for Season Four?
McPARTLIN: [laughs] I really didn’t think we had a shot in hell, to be honest. I’m like that guy who always is trying to expect the worst and hope for the best, and I’m always pleasantly surprised.
AX: Do you have a favorite scene or episode?
McPARTLIN: Angie Harmon was great, but I’ve got to say that the moments that I have with Ellie are really special. Like when she came in and I found out that she actually hadn’t cheated on me, I thought that was a good, special moment. “I’ll do whatever it takes.” And I thought that was great – they wrote very well that day. We had some great moments, some touching things. Everything is so big and fun and funny that when we get those touching moments, those stand out. Like our wedding [and the baby’s birth].
AX: How do you feel when there’s dialogue in the script where the other characters are teasing Awesome about how good-looking he is?
McPARTLIN: You know what’s funny is, I’ve never taken that seriously in my life. I mean, I’ve had that in every role I’ve done, but I just have never thought of myself as good-looking in that manner. I’ve always thought of myself as like “the dude,” “the guy,” like your buddy, your comrade. Everybody jokes about that – I always feel like I’m in on the joke [laughs].
AX: So it doesn’t make you feel self-conscious?
McPARTLIN: No. I understand the part I’m playing and I work out for a reason, to be able to play that part, but I take it less seriously than anybody, and I hope that’s part of my appeal.
AX: Do you have anything else you’ve done during the last hiatus?
McPARTLIN: I did a Sugarland music video. They’re a country band with a new album [that came] out in October. I’m excited about it. Other than that, I did some publicity and some fun just hanging out with the family.
AX: How was Comic-Con?
McPARTLIN: Oh, my God. Comic-Con keeps us going the rest of the season.
AX: Anything else you’d like to say?
McPARTLIN: All I’d say is thank you to the fans for bringing us back again and hopefully we’ll get through this season and have a lot more to go.
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