Vik Sahay, Joshua Gomez and Scott Krinsky in CHUCK - Season 2 - "Vs. The Ring" | ©NBC/Chris Haston

Vik Sahay, Joshua Gomez and Scott Krinsky in CHUCK - Season 2 - "Vs. The Ring" | ©NBC/Chris Haston

For five years on CHUCK, our title hero, played by Zachary Levi, has had to juggle his secret spy life with his work life at the big-box Buy More store. All of Chuck’s work mates at the Buy More are a little eccentric, but Lester Patel, played by Vik Sahay, is borderline diabolical. At various times, Lester and his now-reformed erstwhile partner-in-crime Jeff, played by Scott Krinsky, have staged rebellions, tried to blow up the Buy More and formed the two-man band Jeffster. This season, Lester has gone to jail for trying to poison Jeff back to his old weird self – though Lester wound up running the joint, thanks to giving the inmates computer and cable access.

In person, the Canada-born Sahay is always up for a verbal riff. Take this deadpan exchange regarding Brandon Routh of SUPERMAN fame, who guest-starred on CHUCK as a villain for several arcs.

ASSIGNMENT X: Did you interact at all with Brandon Routh?

VIK SAHAY: Very little, but I’m on set with him. He looks and acts like Superman. He saves us all. Off set, which is bizarre. I tell him not to.

AX: He saves you? Do you get confronted by speeding trains on a regular basis?

SAHAY: Yes. Is that abnormal?

AX: It depends on where the set is. If it’s on train tracks …

SAHAY: It isn’t. And yet I still get confronted by speeding trains on a daily basis.

Now Sahay is confronting the end of CHUCK and reflects on his experiences at a party where the cast members are seeing one another for the first time since the wrap party. Krinsky and Mark Christopher Lawrence, who plays Buy More assistant manager Big Mike, come by to add a few comments.

AX: What was it like the last day on the set?

SAHAY: We were all – what I try to do when I’m on set is stay in character, and I’ve got to admit, I broke down [crying]. It’s a very big moment.

AX: Was it like the last episode of MARY TYLER MOORE, where there’s a big mobile weeping group hug?

SAHAY: [laughs] I can’t speak to that experience, but there were a lot of laughs, there was a lot of close, quiet holding each other.

AX: How does it feel to see each other for the first time since the CHUCK wrap party?

SAHAY: We’re still in the time frame where we would see each other again. I think that it’ll hit deeper when we’re supposed to go back to work. It’s beautiful seeing people, and I think the hurt of missing them will occur when we were supposed to go back to work in a few weeks.

Vik Sahay at the World Premiere of TANGLED

Vik Sahay at the World Premiere of TANGLED | ©2010 Sue Schneider

AX: Were you confident about CHUCK coming back for a fifth season?

SAHAY: Not remotely. I thought we were done. It was a shock to me. Other people seemed more confident than I was. I was like, “We’re wrapped. [NBC Entertainment president] Bob Greenblatt [who had just come to NBC from Showtime] has got a very specific agenda, he will not …” But it’s been an unbelievable blessing. I think what [Greenblatt] did at Showtime was unbelievable. I have immense respect for him. I figured that what he would want to do more than anything is clean house and start again, which is what he did at Showtime when he got moved in there, so I was like, “Oh, we’re going to be part of that deluge.”

AX: On the other hand, the wrath of the CHUCK fans might have been alarming.

SAHAY: Oh, yeah. It seems to me that what saved us yet again is the fans. I mean, the loyalty has been unbelievable for us all. We just did the Comic-Con thing, which was so emotional because of the fans. We’re here because of them. This show is for the fans, by the fans. And it’s meant everything.

AX: It’s said that you and Scott Krinsky had an actual rock star experience when you performed together at Comic-Con as Jeffster …

SAHAY: [The first time] was one of the most surreal, out of left field, bizarre moments I’ve ever been through in my life. I did not expect it, I had no idea what was going to happen, it was a total leap of madness.

AX: How did you feel when you were first told, “You’re going to be singing ‘Africa’”?

SAHAY: I felt thrilled that I got more to do, horrified at the song choice, because it’s a tough song to sing. Some of the phrasing in there is awkward. It was one of the most difficult songs to sing. I mean all the songs – then we had to do “Mr. Roboto” and “Fat Bottomed Girls.” These are brutally hard songs for a non-singer to tackle. It was basically a kind of karaoke. The song is arranged by the brilliant Tim Jones, who does the music for CHUCK, and Scott [Krinsky], as he said, fakes [playing instruments] very well and I sang over that, or through that, or under that, as the case may be. That’s sadly my voice.

AX: When you first thought, “I would like to be an actor,” did you first ever think, “I’d like to be famous,” and if you did think, “I’d like to be famous,” did you ever imagine it would look like performing as half of Jeffster at Comic-Con?

SAHAY: I never imagined anything in my life would look like that. Honestly, I’m geeky when it comes to acting. I was like, “All I want to do is Shakespeare in little black box theatres for twenty-five people and do these purist versions with people I know of the plays.” Cut to Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” on stage at Comic-Con. I’m blown away by life. It’s just so out of left field. Honestly.

AX: That’s quite a journey. Were you ever doing Shakespeare for twenty-five people?

SAHAY: Yeah, I went to theatre school and I started out that way and that’s where my focus was for a long time and I loved it, don’t get me wrong, but this is just surreal.

AX: Were you ever afraid, at any point in your acting career, that you’d wind up working at the real-life equivalent of Buy More as a day job?

SAHAY: I don’t have the skills or the ability or the intelligence to work at a Buy More equivalent, so that was never a worry. I obviously worried about making a living, but ending up at a Buy More was never a concern.

AX: Do you feel the fact that Lester obviously has high intelligence in one area sort of let you play him goofily in another area?

SAHAY: All I do is I try to dig into who Lester is, where he comes from and what he wants, whether that’s incredibly evil or not, and I go for it. I am not somebody who [people] should be looking at as representative of anybody.

AX: Have you enjoyed playing somebody who seems to be sort of like the rocket fuel to the characters who are liable to actually go off in one direction or another?

SAHAY: [laughs] There’s a certain glee in playing that kind of guy, and a certain torture and sadness, because the way I approach it is, I dig into where it comes from.

AX: What do you think is going on in his mind?

SAHAY: It’s pretty horrible. I think that [Lester] had, from little clues in the script, kind of absentee parents. So I believe he feels hated by his mother, so has only learned to hate and is reaching in kind of a snakelike way for attention. And he’s railing against a world that he sees as hating him, I think. And it just begets that, and I think somebody just needs to hug him and say, “Put down your weapons, son. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.”

AX: And the Buy More historically hasn’t been the best place to get that.

SAHAY: Well, that in the proximity particularly of Chuck, who I think he’s viciously envious and jealous of, it only sparks the fire of attack. I think that from [Lester’s] point of view, he is in an unrequited rivalry with Chuck, meaning that Chuck doesn’t know who he is at all, but for him, all he wants is Chuck’s effortless charm, popularity and leadership. He wants that on one hand and yet his anger gets in the way of all of that.

AX: Do you have any friends who are actually big geeks?

SAHAY: I have tons of friends who are actually big geeks – I won’t name any of them – but for Lester, I did go to a couple of Buy More equivalents in Canada and spent some time with people who work there and they are intense dudes, man. They are intense dudes. I found people who were like, that arrogance within your geekdom is who Lester is and I stole unabashedly from them.

AX: Do the people who work at those stores know you from CHUCK?

SAHAY: Yes, they do. And they feel well-represented. I feel proud of that.

AX: For a few specifics, how was it working with Tony Hale as uptight Buy More manager Emmett Milbarge?

SAHAY: [The character’s death was] a shocker. Working with [Hale] was one of the great joys of my acting career and [his last day on set] was a sad day for me – and for him, I assume.

AX: How was working with Kristen Kreuk, who played Hannah, briefly Chuck’s girlfriend and a Buy More employee?

SAHAY: Phenomenal. We had bonded on being Canadian. She’s a talent full of grace. She’s a very, very sweet, amazing person. I wish I had something bad to say about her – it was a fantastic experience.

AX: Did you feel that it said anything about Lester one way or the other when Jeff got to have a moment of – “insight” might be too strong a word, but he made a sweet wedding video for Chuck and Sarah, whereas Lester’s video was, typically for Lester, insane.

SAHAY: I think what it showed was that Jeff has potential to be a normal, sweet guy and Lester is down a river of Hell. He is so far broken, so far gone [laughs].

AX: How was playing opposite Scott Krinsky as such a different version of Jeff this season, once Jeff had detoxed?

SAHAY: It was extraordinary. Scott was phenomenal at it, and Lester doesn’t really change. He needs much deeper therapy than that. He’s a feral animal who adapts as quickly as he can to his new circumstances, and so it was another opportunity for me to go to war with a new entity, as it were.

AX: And how did you like doing the prison episode?

SAHAY: I love that episode for so many reasons. Obviously, getting to do what I did, playing opposite [series regular] Adam Baldwin, but being directed and guided by Zack [Levi, the episode’s director] was everything. The guy knows actors, he’s got a sense of it and unbelievably generous and kind and he allows me, foolishly, to unleash. And not all of it is in the episode itself, but some of it is, and it’s very gratifying.

AX: Do you have a favorite Lester moment that we’ve seen so far?

SAHAY: It’s tough to say and I think for me it’s been the singing, it’s been the Jeffster stuff, it’s been about tackling the songs – in that character, not just as myself, getting in the character and going, “This is how he would sing this.” It’s just kind of a double mountain climb – being able to sing, and then going, “Now he’ll sing it this way.” I love a challenge, I love a mountain climb, so that’s what it’s been.

AX: Without spoiling whether or not you will, do you want to do any more Jeffster?

SAHAY: I hope so. I hope we get to do at least one more tear the roof down type of performance.

AX: Do you have any other projects you’ve been involved in recently?

SAHAY: Yeah, I actually do. On my last hiatus, I shot a movie called AMERICAN REUNION, which is the next AMERICAN PIE and all my stuff was with Seann William Scott and then the gang – Chris Klein, Jason Biggs. So I shot that – that’ll be out April 2012 and it’s Hayden Schlossberg and Jon Hurwitz, of HAROLD AND KUMAR fame, wrote it, and I think it’s one of the best of that ilk. We’ll see how that does.

AX: Do you play somebody who is supposedly from the earlier period who we just didn’t see before, or are you a new person in the series?

SAHAY: I’m a new person, but I’m somebody that Stiffler would have picked on and treated horribly, who is now wreaking a kind of vengeance. And I did another movie called MY AWKWARD SEXUAL ADVENTURE. That’ll come out some time in 2012 as well. And the rest of it is, I’m working with a writer on a couple of projects from the ground up, which is one of my heartbeats, and we’ll work from there.

LAWRENCE: I’m in a play right now in San Diego called A RAISIN IN THE SUN, and I’m also producing a show at the House of Blues in San Diego once a month, a comedy show, MARK CHRISTOPHER LAWRENCE PRESENTS. I’m trying to talk Scott [Krinsky] into coming down either next month or March.

KRINSKY: Yeah, come down and do some stand-up with Mark. We’ve done shows together already.

LAWRENCE: And Rusty Cundieff and I are writing a show that we’re going to pitch.

AX: Now that CHUCK is actually done after five years, how do you feel?

SAHAY: Other than the expected sadness and nostalgia and shock to the system, it’s like I’ve spent the last few weeks in an exorcism, removing Lester, bleeding him out of my body, and it’s been a long time since I’ve had a non-Lester Patel reality [laughs], so I feel very wobbly on my feet as merely Vik Sahay, and it’s a little raw to be exposed like this, to be honest.

AX: Is there anything else you’d like to say about five years’ worth of CHUCK?

SAHAY: It’s been this amazing kaleidoscope of being able to play this love-starved, broken character, the friendships that I’ve made on the set and the interaction with the fans, the dialogue with the fans, has been everything. I mean, this is a show that has lived and died on the sword of the fans and they’ve carried us up, so I want to say thank you. It’s mean the world to me and it’s emotional, it’s an emotional ending. Not to be too corny or too grandiose, but one of the cool things about pop culture is that you get to look back on your life and kind of remember what were you doing when that movie came out, or what was going on that summer when you went to that concert? For me, obviously, these will be considered the CHUCK years, and I hope we gave enough to the fans who supported us, because they deserve it, to merit that in their memory, they look back and go, “Oh, yeah, I remember that. That was during the CHUCK years.”


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Article:Exclusive Interview with Vik Sahay on the end of CHUCK



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