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It was difficult to speak with actress Yvonne Strahovksi about I, Frankenstein at last weekend’s press junket, for a number of reasons — or, more accurately, 24 reasons.
The Chuck veteran recently booked a starring role on 24: Live Another Day, Fox’s unexpected revival of the real-time thriller, as a CIA operative tracking Kiefer Sutherland’s iconic Jack Bauer through London. Luckily, Strahovski was just as eager to talk about her new relationship with 24, and the binge-watching marathons that come with the job.
Of course, Strahovski also stars in I, Frankenstein, written and directed by Stuart Beattie, and starring Aaron Eckhart as the creature caught in a war between gargoyles and demons for the future of humanity. Strahovski plays Terra, a scientist who helps Eckhart’s monster find his inner humanity. The Australian actress indulged Spinoff Online in a quick chat about the role, her interests as an actor, and more.
Spinoff Online: I have to apologize in advance, because it’s going to be very hard for me to do this interview and not just ask you questions about 24.
That’s OK, I don’t want any spoilers. But are you excited? How are you preparing to face Jack Bauer?
I am excited about it. I’ve started binge-watching it, because I hadn’t really watched it. I didn’t realize how much of an anxiety attack I’d have while watching it. [Laughs] But we’re full-on. I’m excited to work with the cast that’s lined up. I just met Kiefer the other night at the TCAs [the Television Critics Association winter press tour].
So far, all I can say is I’m playing Kate Morgan. Weird they chose that last name, because of the Dexter connection. [Laughs] I didn’t bring that up with them, but really? Morgan?
What season are you up to in your binge-watch?
I watched the entire first season, and then I skipped to the eighth [and most recent] season, because I start shooting next week. I have all of this promotion for I, Frankenstein, so it’s impossible for me to get all eight in. I’m going to go backwards after I finish the eighth. I loved the first season. I’m kind of sad that I’m going to ruin the whole series by watching the eighth. I know Kim’s all grown up.
For the most part, the seasons are pretty self-contained. You should be OK.
OK, attempting to get on track: I, Frankenstein. The year you shot that movie was a big one for you: You had I, Frankenstein for a few months, Dexter for a few months, and then you were on stage here in New York, right?
Mm-hm. I was at the Belasco Theater [working on the play Golden Boy], up the road. It was really fun. To be honest, it wasn’t any harder in terms of workload than being on Chuck every day, every year, for five years. In between seasons of Chuck, I did films as well. I’d go back to Australia and do a couple of movies there. I did a couple of films here. I’ve always been busy, it feels. It feels like it’s been non-stop the whole time, the whole seven years that I’ve been here.
It was more about being really excited about having finished [Chuck] and then dipping my toe into three very different things. I was able to do a movie, do a great piece of television, and do an amazing Broadway play. I felt really blessed to be able to carry on. So often, actors come out of a TV show, and you get worried. “What if I’m Sarah Walker for the rest of my life?”
What was your experience like on the I, Frankenstein set? Did Chuck prepare you at all for a film of this size?
Definitely. Chuck was filled. We had an hour episode to shoot every seven days, which was nuts. Accomplishing all of the different locations, the stunts, everything. I’m definitely used to movie-esque sets. And I was used to the green screen, and the minimal stunts I had to do. It wasn’t like I’d never done anything like that before, coming from Chuck. But it was really lovely playing a different character with a different accent. I got to be British in this one. I got to play a scientist and learn about electrophysiology. I learned how to suture from a nurse. I read the novel of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. It was a whole new world. That’s the beauty of being an actor: You get to experience different characters and their lives, three months at a time with film.
Coming from the action world of Chuck, having done stunts and having had an action-heavy role on that series, were you at all disappointed that your I, Frankenstein role wasn’t particularly action-oriented? Or was that a nice change of pace for you?
It was a welcome change of pace, but I’ll be honest: For fun, I was a little jealous that I couldn’t do all the fight scenes. But more importantly for me, it’s a priority to do different characters and change things up a little bit. Having that action component not be a priority for my character, I was able to focus on other things and create a different type of character.
What was your experience working with Aaron Eckhart and the rest of the cast and crew?
[Eckhart] kept to himself, mainly because that’s the character, and that was his [process]. It was a bit of a solo journey for me, in that respect. I worked with a lot of other actors on the movie. Bill Nighy was very social, very actively funny. He told a lot of stories. It was lovely. And Stuart Beattie is an amazingly nice guy, for sure. He has a very strong vision and he very much stuck to it. He knew exactly what he wanted. He’s probably the most organized director I’ve ever worked with. He came a long way with this movie. I’m really proud of him. When I saw the final product, I thought, “Wow.” It’s bigger than I ever thought it would be, with all the effects. He really stuck to his guns and was very, very clear. There wasn’t any wishy-washiness going on on set.
Well, time’s up. Good luck going up against Jack Bauer!
Thanks. I think I’m going to need it. [Laughs]
I, Frankenstein” is in theaters now.