Adam Baldwin is a comedian in disguise. At an imposing 6’4” with a muscular build, he can play tough guys in his sleep. But the man has a natural sarcastic wit that makes him more like the snarky Bruce Willis than the robotic Arnold Schwarzenegger.
On NBC’s Chuck, he plays elite NSA sniper John Casey, who was sent to protect government asset and lovable loser Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi). Chuck is just your average geek working at a dead end tech job…who happens to have a supercomputer in his head. Casey and beautiful CIA agent Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) become Chuck’s handlers, teaching him the ins and outs of the spy business while also learning what it’s like to have a life beyond the job.
After a five-season run that was made possible by a dedicated fan base and a little help from Subway, Chuck will ride into the sunset with a two-hour series finale on Jan. 27. Baldwin and Chuck executive producer Chris Fedak were on hand to discuss the evolution of the show, its bittersweet end, and how Casey went from hardnosed spy to family man with a heart of gold.
Casey Gets A Life
Of all the characters on Chuck, Casey was probably the most expendable when the series began. But thanks to a delivery that Fedak described as being “wicked funny” and a heavy dose of character development as the show progressed, Casey became a vital part of the Chuckverse.
“He got emotional ties,” said Baldwin. “I kept bugging Chris about Casey’s back story. I had a spark with Mekenna Melvin [Casey’s daughter Alex] that rekindled my love for the character. Casey’s evolving relationship with Morgan [Joshua Gomez] has been fun too.”
Fedak gave Casey a daughter and a past, a creative decision that Baldwin joked turned the colonel into a “total p—y.” Of course, all Baldwin needs to do is let out one of his gravelly grunts to remind everyone that he can crush them with his bare hands.
“I learned a while ago to play the positive,” Baldwin said of his uncanny ability to elicit both fear and laughter by simply growling. “With a grunt you can get away with a lot of nuances. It’s a lot of fun to see it written on the page as ‘Casey grunts’ or ‘Casey growls with animosity.’”
Becoming A Geek God
Because of Chuck’s longevity, Baldwin had the time to snarl his way into our hearts. That extra time gave him the rare chance to flesh out Casey’s identity.
“While I will miss Casey, he’s a fully developed character,” he said proudly. “I’ll miss it, [but] I won’t as much as other characters that didn’t get explored further.”
Baldwin was probably referring to Jayne Cobb, his character on Joss Whedon’s short-lived sci-fi series Firefly. The two characters are both gruff enforcers, but he only had one season to make Jayne come alive.
“Obviously Fedak is a better writer than Joss Whedon,” Baldwin joked. “Chuck lasted much longer [than Firefly].”
There goes any chance he had of getting a role in The Avengers. Whedon’s writing skills aside, he did help turn Baldwin into a prominent figure in the geek community. So does he get recognized more as Jayne or Casey?
“It depends if I’m holding my sniper rifle or not,” Baldwin quipped.
Good Luck Chuck
Neither Baldwin nor Fedak was willing to discuss specific details of the finale (understandable), so instead they decided to tease us with tantalizingly cryptic details.
“It’s essentially an epic finale,” said Fedak. “It’ll be different than anything we’ve done before. Everything is at stake.”
Baldwin added: “There are some resolutions with the relationships that I found very heartwarming yet very dangerous.”
Fedak cut in by praising Baldwin’s work: “Very few people can hold a sniper rifle and deliver something heartbreaking.”
He continued: “There were a number of things that, if we ended at season one, we would’ve liked to do. 91 episodes really gave me an opportunity to write a lot of different things. We were able to do a lot of the big emotional stuff we wanted to do.”
The one concrete detail that Fedak was willing to spill was that “it’s not all a dream.” One question down, a million left unanswered. Friday can’t come soon enough.
A Fond Farewell
It was hard for Baldwin to pinpoint his proudest moments from his time on Chuck. He mentioned developing the ability to keep a straight face when watching Levi work (“because he’s so damn funny”), holding his own opposite Matrix icon Carrie-Anne Moss (his fifth season love interest) and “streamlining the ability to be cranky and funny at the same time.”
“They gave me a lot of fun s— to do,” Baldwin said with a chuckle.
Though most people might’ve gotten emotional on the last day of shooting a long-running show, Baldwin isn’t most people.
“I didn’t cry but I watched a lot of the young people cry, being the cold-hearted bastard that I am,” he said, proving once again how effortlessly funny he is. “While there were a lot of tears, they were tears of accomplishment and a job well done. I feel honored to have been a part of [Chuck].”
That sounds like something Casey would say after a successful mission: “I’m just honored to serve my country.” Baldwin eventually admitted that there are plenty of things he will miss about working on Chuck, including the trips to Comic Con.
“I’ll miss the names and faces of the crew, the unsung heroes,” he said, dropping the sarcasm. “They’re really loving, wonderful people.”
You can catch the two-hour Chuck series finale this Friday starting at 8 p.m. on NBC.