'Chuck' finale: Zachary Levi on saying goodbye -- 'it's been special from day one'
Zachary Levi didn't get choked up with a group of reporters during filming of the "Chuck" finale in December. To hear him tell it, though, it was one of the few times in the show's last week of production that he didn't.
"[The final day] is going to be nothing but waterworks, I'm sure," Levi said. "But last week, we shot pretty much all of the goodbye scenes -- all the characters saying goodbye to one another -- and when art is imitating life simultaneously in that moment, and I'm looking at my friends of five years, my family of five years, in a scene I'm having to look at them say goodbye and I really am saying goodbye? That was -- yeah."
He doesn't have the sense, though, that either the on- or off-screen farewells will be permanent.
"It's not forever," Levi says, "although I'll probably never see Adam Baldwin again. That's not true. ... It's actually not even that final in the world of 'Chuck,' if it were to continue. Obviously Chuck and Morgan [ Joshua Gomez] are going to be best friends the rest of their lives. Chuck and Ellie [ Sarah Lancaster] are still brother and sister, and therefore Awesome [ Ryan McPartlin] is still my brother-in-law. And Casey [Baldwin] would ... we would all still continue to see each other in some way, shape or form.
"But the world that has been created, and the world in which we all live and work, has drastically changed and is drastically different, and so, you know, we do say goodbyes, at least for the time being. And it's gnarly. It's really, really surreal."
Given what's happened to Sarah ( Yvonne Strahovski) over the past couple episodes, with the Intersect having wiped out her memory, Levi says the finale also acts as "a reset of sorts."
"The 'will they/won't they' dynamic kind of comes back into play, particularly in the second half of the finale -- episode 13," he says. "There's a ton of homage to the pilot, to the origins of these characters and their journey together. And everyone's in it, and that's awesome, and it's been really emotional."
Levi is grateful that "Chuck," which lived on the edge of cancellation for most of its life on NBC, lasted five seasons, but he also thinks now is the right time to bring the show to a close.
"I don't think we've been shorted. I think five seasons is actually a really good amount of time," he says. "I think that oftentimes in network television, you're left with more than you really wanted. Twenty-two episode seasons, 24-episode seasons at seven, eight, nine, 10 years can eventually [make audiences] kind of go, 'All right, we get it.' ... For something like this which is definitely story arcs and serial, how many bad guys and missions can you go on before you feel like you're repeating the same thing? So I feel like we've gotten a really perfect amount of time together, and it's been special from day one."
As "Chuck" leaves the air with a two-hour finale at 8 p.m. ET Friday (Jan. 27), Levi hopes the emotion he and the cast and crew felt during the final days of production translate into what fans see at home.
"If it's hitting us that hard, I can only assume and hope that the fans, as they're watching the finale, are going to feel the same way. It's good. It's cathartic. It's therapeutic," he says. "It's not necessarily tears of joy, but it's tears of love. I hope that the fans all feel that.
"One of the things I've always heard is that part of the reason why we've been able to maintain what we have is that people can feel the fun that we have, like, transcend the television screen. And if there's any truth to that, then I can only assume that they're going to feel the love and the emotion that we felt doing all this together."