'Chuck': Brandon Routh joins the team

brandon-routh-chuck-320.jpgMonday night's "Chuck" will bring Captain Awesome's (Ryan McPartlin) brief foray into the world of espionage to a close -- and just as important, it will introduce Team Chuck's new boss.

He is one Daniel Shaw, a highly skilled CIA agent and expert on the Ring -- and a guy that Chuck-Sarah 'shippers aren't likely to take a shine to, at least not in the early going. Brandon Routh, who will play Shaw over multiple episodes this season, understands.

"I'm keenly aware of that," the "Superman Returns" star says. "Being a fan of the show, I know the dynamics. Stepping in I was like, 'Man, people aren't gonna like me.' But you know what, it's OK -- that's good. I will come off kind of as a little bit of a jerk to some people, I suppose, although I'm mostly pretty much business."

Routh had quite a bit more to say about his character and his place in "Chuck's" world when I visited the show's set in December -- including the likely reason for the soon-to-come fan animosity. Some highlights:

Q: What brings Shaw into Chuck's world?
A: Well, Chuck [Zachary Levi]. Chuck and the presence of the Ring, which is the nemesis for this season. I'm the foremost aficionado of the Ring. I know the most about them, so I'm brought in for my knowledge and experience with them, but also to help kind of guide Chuck and give him another mentor -- someone who is a real spy and who came from a similar background to his. Which is something I don't think we ever discover [laughs].

Did you know the character's arc would be this big going in?
Well, it was four episodes and possibly more, depending on, I suppose, if they liked me [laughs] and jelling with everyone, and depending on how the season was going to go. I was prepared to do more, and I enjoyed my first couple episodes and where my character was going. And working with everybody was great -- it's a great cast and crew. I loved the show before ... my wife and I are big fans of the show. So I've been happy to be here as long as I have.

How would you characterize Chuck and Shaw's relationship?
When he first gets there, he's kind of like an older brother in a way, guiding [Chuck] and encouraging him. And sometimes a little bit more forcefully, because I know what he's capable of. Whereas Casey [Adam Baldwin], he's just got some gruff comment and then he's off. He never really gives him much appreciation or congratulations. I do that a little bit more than he does, anyway.

How was the experience of jumping into a show where the tone can shift so quickly?
It's very interesting to do. It's something I haven't quite done before, having this type of balance. My character is pretty straitlaced -- I do get a few little sarcastic jabs here and there. But knowing the level of how serious is serious, and how real are we playing this -- it adds up that the life-and-death situations are life-and-death, it becomes very dramatic. Yet there are obviously many lighter moments that are involved -- mostly that's me reacting to Chuck saying something silly or doing something silly.

Does Shaw get a cover like Sarah [Yvonne Strahovski] and Casey?
We do a little piece of that, but not really. Everybody that Chuck deals with on a normal basis, I pretty much stay out of their way. I guess because I'm a good spy.

On fans seeing Shaw as an obstacle for Chuck and Sarah:
I have every right to come in and sweep Sarah off her feet, because Chuck has made his decisions and, you know, he had his chance and blew it at the end of the last season. So I feel justified, anyway -- Shaw feels justified in his actions. And it makes for drama, of course, which we like. And it's good to play the guy that's not the plain, nice guy too -- for people to see me as something different.

Do you ever hear anything about another Superman movie?
You get better news probably on the Internet these days than you can out of me. I think they're still dealing with the legal issues, the rights of the character. You'll know as soon as I do, I'm sure.

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Related:

'Chuck' recaps
Scott Bakula is back: 'Chuck' stages a family reunion
'Chuck': A word from Captain Awesome
'Chuck': Brandon Routh knows you might not like him

Photo credit: NBC
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