SAN DIEGO — The landscape of television serials is somewhat of a tight rope act. Between the strains of competitive time slot schedules, and pilot series pick ups, even the most critically acclaimed series can be dropped unexpectedly. NBC’s series, "Chuck" has managed to weather all the trappings of cancellation with its witty dialogue, fun cast of characters, and cult like following from both viewers and critics alike.
As season three wrapped up in May, the sobering finale left plenty of questions up in the air. One of them being the fate of Buy More (a parody of the Best Buy electronics store) and its tech support crew (the Nerd Herd). Vik Sahay plays Nerd Herd Lester Patel, a techie who specializes in Apple products. Lester’s storylines generally bring the more humorous side of the series between cage fights with his best friend Jeff to collaborating on their band conveniently named: Jeffster.
Blast recently sat down with Vik Sahay to talk about his work on "Chuck" and what it means to play a diverse character like Lester Patel during his visit to the San Diego Comic-Con 2010.
BLAST: Right now the Buy More is no more. And we love Lester–
VIK SAHAY: Do we?
BLAST: We do! (laughs) If you were hypothetically, in your opinion, envision your character coming back into the game, how would it happen?
VS: I think, this all hypothetical, and this is just me imagining it. I think Lester should come back into the game as a true, dark, and evil rival to Chuck. I think he should get recruited by The Ring, and planted back in to that world as a counterspy.
BLAST: No one would expect that, I think.
BLAST: There’s the music of Jeffster (Lester’s band with best friend Jeff,) they’re huge amongst fans of the show. There’s as much a cult following for them as much as the show.
VS: Really? Is that true?
BLAST: Actually, apart from fans of the show itself (who love Chuck and the spy world,) we got a lot of comments about Jeffster.
VS: That’s amazing.
BLAST: Did you ever expect the Jeffster moments to be as popular and go this far?
VS: No, not at all. I mean my goal was to get through the singing, but it was important for meâ€¦for Jeffster to be an extension of what Lester was (on the show.) I think maybe, it’s connecting (with fans) in a way because he’s such a train wreck. This is his outlet for his rage and anger; he sings the way he does because of thatâ€¦he gets to pour all that madness into (Jeffster.) So it’s interesting to use Jeffster through the character of Lester in that way.
BLAST: So what about Lester in love? Anything romantic for him?
VS: Well, he’s on the lamb as it stands (right now.) So maybe out thereâ€¦either his root chakra will open up (and we’ll see that evil side;) or his heart chakraâ€¦(laughs) I think what he wants most out of life is unconditional love. He’s a broken boy, so the way he goes about it is that he’s like a rattlesnakeâ€¦but I wonder what would happen, and what that woman would be — who would love him.
BLAST: Lester plays in shades of grey on the show, he’s a complicated character.
VS: Yeah, I think one of the things I try and put out there about him is that he’s very complex; his emotions. It’s not just bad, good, bad, goodâ€¦I think if what he wants is unconditional love, then who he is the scorpionâ€¦in the scorpion and the frog fable. He’s like please get me across this river, to the frog on the lily pad; (the frog) is like "noâ€¦you’re going to bite me." And (the scorpion) is like "no I promise." He can be very sweet. Then halfway through he (the scorpion) bitesâ€¦and when you ask him why, (the scorpion) says, "Because it’s in my nature." So that’s how I see (Lester) as the scorpion, but it’s complicated.
BLAST: It’s also interesting that for Lester he comes from such a diverse background. How did you feel about the script and the Lester character when you first got the script? As an Asian actor, you’ve most likely have been offered a wide range of roles.
VS: What I loved about it is that the character is undefined; his name is Lesterâ€¦so there was no forethought in casting. I think when I was cast they (didn’t consider it.) They were colorblind about it, which is great! Then they put part of his background in itâ€¦being Indian even though they’ve written some Jewish stuff which I love! I love it; I have no problem playing Indian or anything like that at all. I like it, I like exploring it; it’s actually good for me as an actor to think to my roots and connect that way.
I like that he’s (Lester) isn’t overly sweet, or obviously nerdy. I like that he kind of has that wild side.
BLAST: The Asian community can at times be sensitive to the way they’re represented onscreen, were there ever moments when you’ve gotten a script and felt uncomfortable about the direction?
VS: On the show "Chuck" it’s never been really a concern. There’s nothing that’s been on where I’ve said no. In fact, I am trying to; I want to add elements about his ethnicities (Indian and Jewish) to the show. Obviously, I’d be most protective of the Indian side of Lester. (The show) has played up his Jewish side, and they use it to their own discretion.
BLAST: Maybe they’ll bring it (his Indian side) up more?
VS: I hope so too. I want to explore that more. I don’t want to do anything that’s facile or thin. As long as it’s a full character that’s there? I’m very happy to play his ethnicity.
Fans of the series can find Vik Sahay along with castmates: Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, Adam Baldwin, Joshua Gomez, Sarah Lancaster, Irving Bartowski, Ryan McPartlin, Mark Christopher Lawrence, Scott Krinsky, and Julia Ling return this fall at the usual Monday 8/7C on NBC with its fourth season premiere September 20th .