Linda Hamilton is an actress that needs no introduction. The woman who helped define strong female archetype roles for women in cinema is most famous for her portrayal of Sarah Connor in THE TERMINATOR and TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY. Hamilton is a beautiful, intelligent and strong woman, but most who would expect her to be like her “tough-as-nails” screen heroine are in for a surprise. The actress is actually a free spirit, and a self-proclaimed Hippie with a quick smile and fantastic sense of humor.
ASSIGNMENT X was lucky enough to get the chance to talk to Hamilton this week in Part 1 of this exclusive interview about her latest acting job as the Spy mother of the title character of the NBC series CHUCK. Hamilton opens up about how she got involved in the show, what twists and turns in her character’s development have surprised her, and whether or not she will be back for another season.
ASSIGNMENT X: How did you come to CHUCK?
LINDA HAMILTON: It was a lucky accident, and the fans have heard this before but, I was at an autograph convention and a fan in line asked me if I was going to be doing CHUCK? I didn’t even know what CHUCK was at that time, but there had been a rumor circulating that they were bringing on the character of Chuck’s mom, and that I might be lined up to play that. I had never heard that rumor so I said, “no, not at all.” Then two weeks later I got a call from my agent telling me they had submitted me for CHUCK. I wish they had told me! [Laughs] They submitted me and I went in and met Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedack; the rest as they say is history.
AX: What drew you to the character?
HAMILTON: I love the attitude. I love the silliness, the “not taking itself too seriously.” That is my middle name, Linda “I Don’t Take Myself too Seriously” Hamilton. So I love that whole feel of the show. Its light on it’s feet, and it’s funny and dramatic, and glamorous. I just love all of that mixed together.
AX: You came onto the show this season, and the other actors have been on it for a few years. What is it like joining a cast during a series that is already established?
HAMILTON: It always feels strange to do that and to be the outsider. As an actor I think I can generally say that we’re a pretty insecure group of people. [Laughs] I’m not really insecure but I did feel the enormity of the job I had to do. It was a little intimidating. Everyone on that show is wonderful! I would like that to be my whole life-long job. Truly, I love the people on that show.
AX: Your character underwent some changes as the season progressed. Was all of that given to you up front or was it parceled out over each episode?
HAMILTON: Episode by episode. I swear to you I had no idea if I was a good girl or a bad girl for about the first seven episodes that I did. People would ask me if I was good or bad and I told them I didn’t know. I asked the show runners and they didn’t know. [Laughs] I was walking a thin line. The complexities of what they work out, even though the show is light on its feet, are amazing as to where the characters are going and who they are. They have to work really hard to pull it all together, and so I think it took a while to bring it all in.
AX: Are you pleased with the journey character has taken this season and where she has ended up?
HAMILTON: Yes! Being a late comer to the show I didn’t know how it was going to work out. Now I have a better understanding of how they work things, and generally the men on that show are the funny ones. It’s Morgan [Joshua Gomez] or Chuck [Zachary Levi]. Sarah [Yvonne Strahovski] is sort of the strong leading man type. [Laughs] Then this year Timothy Dalton. He was a big surprise and he’s hysterical. So I hope that I get to go a little bit more in that direction.
I remember the first few days and the mountains and mountains of dialogue coming out of my mouth. I was nervous as hell. I really was. I remember my very first day in a car and I had just grabbed Chuck after I’ve shot him. I told him, “I shot you to protect you”, which is still one of my favorite lines I’ve ever gotten to say. I had to say to Zachary, “please turn the radio down”, because he was cranking it up in between takes in the car. [Laughs] I didn’t think I was going to make the day, because of all the stuff I had to say. Then I watched other actors come onto the show and go through the same thing. Now of course, it’s chill and I can do anything with any kind of concentration break. That first day though I begged Zach and told him the next week he could play the radio as loud as he wanted to, but I told him he had to be more quiet so I could remember my lines!
AX: You were back in this week’s episode – can you confirm or deny whether you will be in the season finale?
HAMILTON: Absolutely back for the finale!
AX: Would you be up for returning for another season?
HAMILTON: That’s a funny way of asking if I was killed at the end of the season. [Laughs] I’m looking forward to going back next year. I want even more! It’s hard once you’ve started to sit back and not do them. There have been times when they called me and told me I wasn’t doing the next three episodes, and I wondered what I was going to do with myself for the next month?! You aren’t free to look for other work. It’s interesting to go from doing an episode to not doing two or three. It’s interesting to try and fid your balance. You work your ass off and then you don’t work for three weeks, and then you work your ass off, and then you don’t work for a week. So I’m learning how to do that. My favorite job description would be to be on CHUCK every week.
AX: So you’ve enjoyed returning to network TV?
HAMILTON: I did. I liken it to having a baby. Women for centuries have said that God takes the memory of the birth away so that you can have another child, because if you remembered how hard it was and how difficult, you would never have a second child. That’s what I feel like doing a TV series. It had been, lord, twenty years or so since I did BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and that was my last TV show. I had forgotten how much it takes – those sixteen hour days with an hour commute on each end. That’s on a Tuesday, and then you have to continue to come in the rest of the week. I just thought “Holy Mother of God!” [Laughs] But, I love being on the show and being on the Warner Bros. lot. I’ve done a lot of smaller stuff on lots, but this is the longest time I’ve shot on one. I love going to Warner Bros. everyday!
AX: There is a rumor going around that your character is Vivian Volkoff’s mother. Even though your character supposedly never had relations with Volkoff?
HAMILTON: I cannot confirm or deny those rumors, but I think that’s a wonderful direction! I would be the last to know, but I have thought about that same thing because Vivian looks a bit like me. We’ll see what happens! They’ve done such a great job with the Volkoff story.
AX: What’s your favorite part about being on CHUCK?
HAMILTON: For me it’s the comedy. Anytime they give me anything funny to do I’m all over it. Zach has the most amazing timing and the greatest rhythm. I have a lot to learn from these people. I love to watch him and Joshua Gomez go at it. They’re just delightful. I enjoy the fact that we get to do all the stunt stuff and wear false eyelashes. It’s a great mix that way.
AX: CHUCK brings on a lot of famous genre actors. Have you sat on set in between takes and traded war stories?
HAMILTON: Yeah, Robert Englund was brilliant and he was a lot of fun! Who could ever not appreciate where they are, when they are sitting with Robert? I made a huge play for Timothy Dalton and he ignored me. [Laughs] I think I terrify him! But it is great fun. And who isn’t curious about Nicole Richie? I love her style and its all fun.
Click on the link for PART 2 of AX’s EXCLUSIVE LINDA HAMILTON INTERVIEW where she chats about her role on CHUCK
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