‘Chuck’: Sarah Lancaster and Ryan McPartlin Talk Babies, Moms and the Generalissimo

Posted: October 6, 2010 in chuck, interviews, what to watch

Next Monday’s Chuck (NBC, 8 p.m.) takes Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and Devon (Ryan McPartlin) to Costa Gravas for a reunion with the hilarious, amorous Generalissimo Goya, played by returning guest star Armand Assante.

“The biggest adventure is [next] week’s episode,” says McPartlin of Ellie and Devon’s upcoming storylines, but it’s not all fun and ten foot statues (we’ll get to that later) for the couple. As they approach impending parenthood, they’ll also be dealing with their mother issues. His will come for a visit, while Ellie will be struggling with her feelings about the mother she thinks abandoned her.

“I think we’re building up to some really significant moments,” adds McPartlin.

Recently, McPartlin and Lancaster talked with members of the press about the many visits coming their way.

A visit from the Generalissimo. The tables are turned in Monday’s episode when Ellie and Devon are joined by Chuck and Sarah on a trip to Costa Gravas. “Last year, I was the one who was craving some excitement and wanted a thrill,” says McPartlin. “That’s when Armand Assante came in… This year, it’s fun that they’ve kind of flipped that on its ear and made Sarah’s character Ellie the one who wants a little excitement, and I’m the one who’s like, ‘Uh-oh. No. I know where this can go.’” Adds Lancaster: “Ellie’s just feeling like we’re already going down the road of home all the time and the baby might as well already be here. She feels like she needs a little excitement in her life. She’s feeling a little too over babied.” As concerned as Devon may be, you don’t say no to the Generalissimo, especially when he calls upon you.

“There’s a big ball in Awesome’s honor, and because it’s Chuck, nothing goes as is planned and hijinks ensue,” teases Lancaster. At least they got that ten foot statue right. Yes, Awesome gets his own statue, which was proceeded by a very important debate in the writers’ room.

“You know what my favorite part is about the statue? The fact that the writers couldn’t agree whether I had a shirt on or off,” laughs McPartlin. “The argument was, ‘Well, he’s a doctor. He’d have his shirt on.’ ‘Well, it’s a statue. Of course you’d have it off.’ So they put the most skin tight shirt on that you could still see the muscles through the shirt if you look closely. Really, it’s ridiculous.”

It may be ridiculous, but it still brought some envy from his costars.

“Zach [Levi] looked at me and he said, ‘I am so jealous of your ten foot statue,’” says McPartlin, who calls the statue “very surreal.” “I think that was my favorite part of it because I’m so jealous of Zach in a number of other ways.”

Also look for the Generalissimo to make some moves on Sarah and Ellie — “He does have a lot of affection for Ellie,” says Lancaster – and, of course, some classic one-liners.

A visit from the stork. When it comes to playing a new father, McPartlin’s got it covered. A father himself, he says “it just comes natural for me to be obsessive-compulsive,” so don’t look for Devon to mellow out. That could be a problem if Lancaster’s vision of Ellie as a mom comes true.

“I think Ellie is sort of a manic individual, and I really like the moments when Ellie comes undone completely,” she says. “I think that Awesome should be awesome as he is in everything he touches, and I think Ellie should maybe be pulling her hair out a little bit. I think that that’s where you’ll find the comedy.”

Thankfully, Devon always has a tendency to pull through and be, well, awesome. “ Awesome tries to compensate sometimes for when Ellie comes undone,” says McPartlin. “I mean, if he could breast feed, he would, but that’s not the case, so he’ll do what he can and chip in the best he can.”

As for when we can expect the little bundle of joy, that’s up in the air until the producers find out if they’re getting a back-nine order or not, but one thing has been decided.

“We found out the sex, but that hasn’t aired yet, so we can’t say that,” teases Lancaster.

A visit from mom. What would a baby be without some grandparents? Morgan Fairchild will be making her return as Devon’s mother, Dr. Honey Woodcomb, in the Oct. 25 episode. And what would a visit from a mother-in-law be without some meddling?

“Mom and Ellie have to learn how to deal with the new roles that each one are going to play as a mother and as a grandmother,” says McPartlin. Lancaster cuts to the chase: “The truth is is that Morgan Fairchild’s character just thinks that Ellie is not good enough for her perfect boy.”

Becoming a mother will also make Ellie think about her own mother (Linda Hamilton) and “question growing up what she thought was right, what she thought was real, what was really going on,” according to Lancaster. The pregnancy is “bringing up a lot of stuff. Maybe making her a little bit softer than she otherwise would’ve been towards the idea of her mother possibly coming back.”

“It just makes her feel like she doesn’t quite know her family at all,” she adds. “I think the fact that she’s about to be a mother raises a lot of questions and raises the stakes, and makes her wonder, does she want this child to know her grandmother?”

That struggle will mirror Chuck’s journey with his father in the early seasons. “There’s a lot of stuff, I think, for Ellie this season that Chuck went through in the first season, finding out about his dad,” says McPartlin. “Now Ellie’s getting to do the same stuff with a mom.”

Other tidbits from the conference call:

— Lancaster is very happy to be on Chuck. “I feel like I actually made a concerted effort to look for something a little bit lighter after What About Brian and Everwood,” she says. “I felt like I was just crying on national television for years and years and years. So I wanted to see what I could do with comedy and work with that and be funny again and lighten up. So when Chuck came around, that was exactly what I was looking for.”

— Lancaster calls Ellie and Devon the “anti-Sarah and Chuck.” “Sarah specifically has this right in her face visual of what marriage and life and carpool and normal jobs and all of those things is like,” she explains. “It’s sort of staggering to her. … She’s always sort of having to decide between which way is her life going to go and which way does she get pulled.” Adds McPartlin: “We’re a good mirror for [Chuck and Sarah] of what should be normal life, but then obviously we get tangled up into the spy world as well.”

— McPartlin and Lancaster have gotten very method about played a married couple. “Ryan and I have merged into a married couple,” says Lancaster. “We spend all of our time together on set. Our trailers, we share them next door. We socialize outside of set. We get into little squabbles like married people do.” And it doesn’t end there. “This is how I know we spend too much time together. Ryan and I showed up two weeks ago, sat down in our chairs, got ready to shoot a scene, pulled out on the side of our chair the same book. We were reading the same novel! We’re merging into the same being.”

  1. Jessica says:

    Great interview, Vlada!

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