Wednesday, August 18, 2010
"CHUCK" ON THIS: CANADIAN ACTOR VIK SAHAY TALKS COMEDY, LESTER, AND WHERE HE SEES HIMSELF IN THE NEXT 15 YEARS
You may know Vik Sahay best as Lester Patel, a member of the Nerd Herd in NBC's "Chuck." What you may not know about him, though, is that he is a Canuck, born and bred, just like one of us. The Ottawa native made his first mark on shows like YTV's "Radioactive" and CBC's "This is Wonderland." A busy actor, Vik kindly took out of the time out of his hectic schedule to answer my questions. You can read it all here.
V.B. When do you think you first wanted to pursue acting?
V.S. It actually pursued me, before I could make a choice. When I was quite young, a scout for a TV series saw me in a class play. I ended up working on that TV show - my first professional gig. An older cast member was attending an all arts school, and something about that struck a deep chord in me. I didn't know why; there was no long term picture. I just knew that I had to be immersed in it like that, so I begged my parents to let me audition for that school, even though it meant hours of bus travel every day.
V.B. You had a lead role on the YTV show "Radioactive." Did that experience teach you a great deal about the difference between TV acting and theatre acting?
V.S. Interestingly, Radioactive is the only television project I've ever worked on that was filmed in front of a live audience, so it was a kind of a hybrid of the two. We did have to hit marks and keep in mind all of the technical aspects of on-camera work. But when we came 'out' to work, it did feel like we were going on stage.
V.B. Can you relate to your character at all?
V.S. Kevin Calvin, my role in Radioactive, was a thick-headed jock. Arrogant, lazy, yet somehow charming. (People hated to admit it, but they were charmed.) I, myself, am quite shy and rarely charming. He was a stretch.
V.B. You were nominated for a 2002 Canadian Comedy Award for your role in "Our Hero." Would you ever do stand-up comedy?
V.S. Absolutely not. However, I follow it very closely and have enormous respect for stand-ups.
V.B. Do you consider yourself/what do you consider to be funny?
V.S. Peter Sellers, Ricky Gervais, Gary Shandling, Bill Murray, Martin Short, Christopher Guest, the timing of Michael J. Fox...off the top of my head, these are just a few of the comedic icons in my world.
V.B. Maybe tell us a joke or two :)
V.S. A joke I recently heard: There are two goats at a garbage dump outside a Bollywood studio, who are chewing away at discarded cans of celluloid. The first goat, chewing slowly, says, "You know, this film's not bad." The second goat, also chewing the celluloid, replies, "Yeah, but the book was better."
V.B. Ha, that's very funny :) Playing an attorney on CBC's "This is Wonderland" would probably call in for a more serious role. How do you emotionally tap into playing different characters?
V.S. The goal is an insane kind of self-delusion, where you are no longer 'you' but this character in the story. The process to get there requires a chaotic and innocent blend of imagination, instinct, great empathy, curiosity, research, endless soul-searching, and, ultimately, abandon.
V.B. What types of personalities do you think you usually portray?
V.S. Extreme ones, in any direction.
V.B. Being in "Roxy Hunter" - a movie more targeted towards younger children/youth - was it difficult for you to get into a more imaginative type of character?
V.S. No, it was incredibly liberating.
V.B. Being on your most recent, successful role - in NBC's "Chuck" - how have you grown with your character, on and off the show? How has your life, the industry changed for you?
V.S. I'd say that my life has changed more than Lester's has. God, that makes me sad to say. I really love that kid. It's been interesting playing someone over three years who, on the page, hasn't changed. He's kind of stuck and so needs to create more and more heroic versions of extra-curricular activities to make up for his being in a dead-end job. I, myself, don't have a dead-end job. Chuck has opened a lot of doors for me, putting me in the very fortunate position of being paid to create on an on-going basis.
V.B. Where do you see yourself in the next 5, 10, 15 years?
V.S. Living a big, international creative life.
V.B. What unlikely advice can you give to other aspiring actors?
V.S. Believe in yourself and test that belief constantly, by taking risks.