Q & A: Joshua Gomez on Bad Morgan, Fight Scenes and the Final Season of ‘Chuck’
NBC’s Chuck, now in its fifth and final season, has pushed Chuck’s best friend, Morgan, into the spotlight as the Intersect.
Fans of the show know that the Intersect is what initially gave Chuck all of his super-spy skills. At the end of last season, Chuck lost the Intersect and Morgan, by accident, acquired it.
Joshua Gomez plays Morgan and he said he found out about the change his character would go through right before shooting last season’s final episode. His first thought? “Oh boy, I’m dead.” After that initial reaction, he soon became excited and told me that he was eager to “change up and try new things” with the character.
Joshua talked to me on a conference call about the sudden turn of his character, shooting fight scenes and what he has lined up after he finishes Chuck.
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Chuck airs on Fridays at 10pm on NBC
With this big change for Morgan and all the fighting you get to do now, how much training do you have to do before you have to film one of those scenes?
Joshua Gomez: Well there’s not much training, as I don’t know if most of you know, it’s like, we have about seven days to make an episode of Chuck. And our episodes are just, just dense, you know there’s so much to them. Just a lot of layers, you know, from, you know, actually trying to pull off action scenes and comedy scenes, and you know, it’s a very stylized show. And so, seven days is not a lot of time to do an hour show what with, you know, explosions and gun fights, and then, you know, things like that, so, and of course, you know, kung fu scenes.
So there’s not a lot of training, there’s not a lot of time.
And, you know, I remember showing up to the set that day, and there was a sort of miscommunication, and just sort of a – no one’s fault but just, they didn’t bring me in for a little bit – you usually get a little bit of a fight rehearsal. You know, to kind of work out the deeds and do all this kind of stuff, and I show up and they’re like okay we’re ready in five minutes. And I was like five minutes of what, you know, it’s kind of like what? And I have to fight nine dudes.
So, bam, you just got to roll with it and it’s just what we’ve kind of become accustomed to, and so, you know. Fortunately I have a decent memory – I’m pretty good at memorization so that’s all I could really rely on. Not the physical side of it, because that I’m just awful. But just memorizing steps, you know, and just kind of doing all this, it’s like a, you know, like a dance, it’s obviously choreographed like a dance, so.
So you get through it, and it actually turned out to be – I thought it was one of the, you know, I thought it was one of the best things I’ve done up to this, you know, point. So I was pretty proud of it. And I didn’t have much time to kind of learn it. So, yes, I guess that’s the long answer to your question is no, not really a lot of training or a lot of time. But it’s fine, it all works out, you know.
You said you have a good memory, so when you get a script, you can basically memorize it like boom, like that?
Joshua Gomez: You know I don’t – no I wouldn’t say, you know, it’s definitely not like photographic or anything like that, but I’m not bad at like, you know, I can look at it. You know, depending on what it is, I’ll look at it and I’ll see my scenes that I’ll have to do and they usually, you know, one or two reads and it’s in there.
And then I’ll leave it alone and then like maybe, you know, and then we rehearse five minutes before the scene I’ll have my sides, you know, they have these sides printed out for the day, what you’re going to shoot that day. And you look at those and kind of go, oh yes, right okay.
And then boom one or two more reads, you know, just kind of. It doesn’t take me too long, Zach I know is like that as well, we kind of had that, he’s even probably better. I mean, he’ll literally just look at them and he might be closer to photographic because he gets it quick. So it’s kind of a cool tool to have, you know?
Yes, yes I would love to have that. I’ve actually walked to set to shoot one of my scenes and I literally forget my lines.
Joshua Gomez: I think it really is about comfort ability too, because the only time I ever really truly forget things is always because when I’m – is being nervous. It’s only because I’m nervous, so once you’re calm, you know, with us, once we’ve settled into these roles and it’s kind of like you know you have the job and everything is good, you’re able to relax. I think with that relaxation comes a much easier time with memorizing the stuff, you know?
Speaking of nerves, you’ve done this now your fifth season, do you still get nervous before you do a scene?
Joshua Gomez: Sure I mean it depends, especially this season because like I’ve talked about it was sort of a departure from what I’ve been doing which was great, you know. I love to be able to shake it up and rattle it, and kind of go, cool, man, this is going to be new. So yes, when I had the first, when I first walked out and got ready to shoot my first fight scene, or whatever, you know, I was very nervous just because I’d never really done it before.
And you know, the first time I had to really use my zoom face on camera. You know, but yes, so I would say up to this point, no, not really, probably during like seasons three and four you kind of, you know, it’s very rare that you – there’s any kind of real nerves or anything like that. But this season, sure and I wouldn’t say, you know, I guess it’s a cross between nerves and excitement.
You know that’s the thing of being an actor, you know, you just kind of, it kind of all gets, you know, intertwined you know, nerves and excitement and all that stuff, so. It’s fun, I’m – I was glad to, that’s I think is another reason I’m really enjoying this season because, you know, it’s after five years, it’s kind of fun to be excited and nervous again, you know.
How do you see Morgan – the character, his personality, him personality-wise and the way he thinks?
Joshua Gomez: You know I was always – when I first started the show, you know, in trying to discover this character along with the writers, I think, he was always, you know, Morgan was kind of a free spirit, and you know, a little bit impetuous, and kind of the captain of his own ship.
And so I think he’s still obviously a big part of that, but he’s obviously grown up and matured a ton, so he’s a little – I’ve been more focused now and but still, you know, kind of, you know, fun loving and he’s very loyal, and a really good best friend, and someone to have in the firefight at your side. No actually that’s not true, he’d be terrible in a firefight, awful in a firefight, but a good best friend.
Joshua Gomez: It was somewhere, I think we were probably shooting – if my memory serves me correct – it was like the 423, so basically fourth season, about the 23 episode – no wait, we had 24 episodes, and so I think we were finishing up the 23rd episode, and I think Chris Fedak, one of the co-creators went down on the set and we were just kind of talking. Him and I are fairly close as we’re fooling around and just kind of talking and he was like, you know, have you heard about 424 yet? And I said no. And he was like, “Oh, I’m going to be really interested to see what you think.” And I was like kind of like “Oh boy, I’m dead.”
And then it turns out that he said no, no, no, just read it and – and I did and you get to the last page and I know kung fu and it was like you’ve got to be kidding me. This is insanity, I’m a dead man.
But, it was – but I was very excited. Obviously I was really excited to kind of just, you know, get to change up and try new things, you know, in the course of the television show especially one like Chuck that’s been fortunate enough to go five seasons, you know it’s like anything has a chance to become a bit stale, or you know, especially as an actor and playing a certain character and playing in the same thing over and over again.
So for me to be able to know that I was going to come into this season – if there was a season – because at that time we didn’t know if we were even going to get a fifth season. But if we did, to be able to come into the fifth season, you know, with a sort of renewed sense of like, wonder and fun and it was like, oh this is going to be very cool, so. It was awesome.
How did you prepare for all the new physical demands that you’re going to have now with all the special powers and things that.
Joshua Gomez: I just – you know, I mean, I honestly just trusted our stunt and fight coordinators and they kind of got me up and running in the beginning of the season with some crash course on some basic kung fu moves and, you know, just different sort of stunt techniques. And, you know, where you’re supposed to put your foot when you’re kicking at somebody’s nose and yada, yada, yada.
But for me, I always tend to, you know, I stay pretty active anyway, I’m a pretty avid runner and things like that, so I felt physically good. And I’m not a dancer or a kung fu guy, or two things that really help in fight scenes, I think. Like Yvonne is like – she had a dance background so her balance and stuff is really, really good and mine is just terrible, I have like the – just a really weak lower body, so kicking is not my forte.
But, you know, it’s good, they got me up and running, and then, we got – I have an amazing, you know, fight double and all that stuff, so, easy enough.
After four years of being on the bubble, how do you feel knowing that this is it? This is the final season, and how are you guys approaching it?
Joshua Gomez: You know it’s obviously a question that gets asked a lot and it’s a great question and because the end is nigh. And it’s – for us I think as a cast it’s really interesting because you’re exactly right, you know, four seasons, every season, kind of every time we were approaching wrapping up it was sort of like we didn’t know if we were saying goodbye for good, or if just for a few months, and it was always this very tumultuous time.
And now it’s got a different feeling to it, you know, we’re all bit – you know, it’s bittersweet and kind of bummed and but some kind of positive aspect that we take away knowing that we are – we know our fate, and so it makes it a bit easier to deal with.
So we’re just enjoying every minute of it and having a really great time as a cast and crew and just really kind of taking it all in. And so it’s actually been a really fun season, I think for all of us. Despite knowing that it’s coming to an end, just because I think we’re all, you know, trying to relish every minute of it, you know, so.
How are you approaching playing your new part? Your character is changing both from a mental standpoint but now you are the Intersect, you are kind of the new focus of the show. How has that impacted how you play Morgan?
Joshua Gomez: I – it’s impacted it a lot actually and especially during this ark of sort of the Intersect, not quite working right. It’s been a blast because, like I said earlier, you know, you can tend to, you know, you play the same character.
Television I think is much like a comfort food for people. And when people find a comfort food they like, a television show they like, they want things to kind of stay the same. They want the always pizza should taste like pizza.
And so I think there’s a chance obviously in television when you do enough seasons it can get a little – as an actor – you can kind of become unchallenged you just have to learn the character you know it so like the back of your hand, it just becomes, you know, you just kind of go on cruise control.
This was fun because it forced me to just switch everything up and so I was excited. I was nervous at first, obviously for so many different reasons just getting the Intersect I thought was just a crazy turn. And something I wasn’t expecting.
And then as I started to get the scripts and I saw this character becoming what he’s becoming and how it was affecting him, it’s nerve-wracking. Our fans are really loyal and they love Chuck, and I’m like, “Oh, crap, I’m going to get things thrown at me for being a jerk.”
But that being said, you know, it’s your job, and so you – I said I’m going to go full force and, you know, whether the people are – I mean, my job in these episodes as you’ll see and especially in Frosted Tips, is you’re not supposed to like Morgan, I think at this point.
So, I kind of threw myself into that, and I said it’s – it was so much fun because it was a 180 from the Morgan of three or four seasons ago, so.
After the first episode and the twist at the end of last season, there was a segment of the Chuck fandom that was not pleased with the idea of Morgan having the Intersect. Do you trust that the writers are going to lead you down the right path eventually?
Joshua Gomez: I mean look, I don’t – to me it’s out of my hands, I have a job to do.
I try to stay clear of it only because it’s not my – in some respects it’s not my business. I have a job to do I try to do it the best I can and like I said this is something that was kind of, you know, handed to me and like this is where we’re going. You go, okay, you sure?
But actually, and quite the opposite, I’ve had – totally there’s – I’m sure there’s a lot of people don’t, you know – hey look it – like I said people love Chuck, man. And that’s just a testament to what Zachary does and from the very beginning, people just love that character, he’s such a sweet, honest, cool, character.
And so, and the show is Chuck and the show is still, it continues to be about Chuck. They, I think, as the writers and Chris felt that this was just a way to kind of inject some fun and a new perspective. And it’s like getting to watch one of your favorite movies with somebody who’s never seen it before. It’s just, you’re going to see it through some new eyes, and so.
But everyone’s actually been really, really, cool. We had a Chuck-fest recently and everybody was really supportive and really happy, especially after they had seen a preview – they had seen a special sneak peek, a screening of 503, the Chuck versus the Frosted Tips.
And so everybody was really, really, happy and so it was cool, you know, to kind of see that, because I knew I had some, you know, a little bit of a job ahead of me winning people over at the idea of Morgan with the Intercept.
But, like I said, I just try to do my job, you know?
Over the last four seasons, what was the biggest highlight for you in the scope of the show’s run?
Joshua Gomez: Just simply getting the role, I mean it’s, I look back and I think to myself, I look at all these steps and if you never go through this game, to get a role to do anything in Hollywood, it’s just an exercise in frustration.
So, you get these scripts and you get – some of them you don’t like, some of them you do and with the Chuck one it was very exciting, oh this is really cool, this is so up my alley. This is really unique, and then you start the whole process.
And for me I look back and I go, it’s just a little like walking into a deli and buying a lottery ticket and the process of just going through all these auditions and then having the show get picked up and then having it go five seasons.
And then you have – I mean it’s just I look back and I go, wow, you know, I think about those original auditions and I say, that’s amazing that this happened, you know? It’s just such a fluke in some respects, you know. I’ve been doing this for 15 years, 16 years, so. Obviously it’s the first time I had a show literally go to air and then had this kind of run, it’s just, it’s nuts. So that to me is the standout.
Do you have anything lined up after the season? Do you have maybe another TV series or video games, or making another short, producing another short or anything?
Joshua Gomez: Yes, I am actually, I’ve got a – I have a few, I have another short slash kind of pilot that I co-wrote, and it stars me and my brother, Rick Gomez, who’s also been in a ton of stuff. And so I’m really excited about that and we’re in kind of post right now, editing and getting it up and running, so I’m excited to kind of see what we can do with that thing.
And then it’s just business as usual, you know I have to kind of go out and try to get another job. And I’m excited, you know, there’s that excitement, it’s like Rocky returning to the gym, you know, where he grew up, you know. It’s like get back into the gym and kind of get back to work, you know. Get out there and try to get another job.