What’s it like being the daughter of a tough TV super spy? Mike Moody — Film Gecko roving reporter and head honcho at TV Death Ray — asked actress Mekenna Melvin, who plays Alex, the daughter of Adam Baldwin’s character Casey, on NBC’s ‘Chuck.’
Mekenna is new to the ‘Chuck’ cast, but she’s already made quite a big impression on the show’s fans and on Chuck’s nerdy best friend Morgan (Josh Gomez).
Mekenna talked about her role on the show, her martial arts training, and about the time her mom dressed her up as a Klingon when she was a kid. Yeah, for real. Read on for the full interview, and check out the audio podcast over at TV Death Ray.
Mike Moody: What’s it like playing Adam Baldwin’s daughter?
Mekenna Melvin: Pretty amazing! I mean, Adam Baldwin is just a joy to work with. He’s a seasoned actor, and he makes everything so easy when you’re working with him. Plus, his character John Casey is, like, the coolest character on the show. He’s the ultimate spy, so to be his daughter is just fantastic.
Alex has been a nice surprise for fans of the show. Did you know that she would become such a significant recurring character when you first auditioned for the role?
I had no idea. When I first auditioned for the role, the title of the audition was “20-year-old girl.” That’s what I was going in for. She had one word and one line, which was “Mom.”
So I went in and said, “Mom,” and I got a call a couple of days later that I booked it. At that point, I had no idea who she was or that she was John Casey’s daughter or that she had any kind of storyline, because they were keeping that whole reveal really tight-lipped.
So my manager called me and said, “Not only did you book it, but you have a name now.” And I was like, “I have a name! This is amazing!” And she said, “It’s Alex, and you’re John Casey’s daughter who he never knew he had,” and I said “What?”
Even then, I thought it was going to be this one episode, but then months later, they said they were going to make the role a bit bigger on the show, and I had to go back and re-audition for it.
Yeah, I guess it was because I didn’t have a ton of credits, and I guess they wanted to make sure they were making the right choice. So I went back in and I got it. It all worked out, and it’s been so wonderful.
I’m really enjoying the Alex-Casey storyline. I thought it added some good dramatic heft to the show.
The introduction of a daughter character in John Casey’s storyline basically shows or has the potential to show a whole other side of Casey that we’ve never seen before.
It’s nice to see that Alex is sort of being woven into the fabric of the show right now, and not just with Casey but with Morgan too. She and Morgan have a bit of a love connection now. Was that love story something that was always planned for Alex?
You know, it’s funny, last season when we were shooting the last episode, people on the set kept making jokes, like, “I bet this is what’s gonna happen,” and I was like, “Really?” because it wasn’t completely given away. And when we got the next script, I was like, “You guys were right!” And it’s been really fun.
In last week’s episode, Morgan referred to Alex as “the one,” so does that mean you’ll be sticking around for the long haul this season and maybe for future seasons?
I don’t know, but I guess there’s the possibility of that … My contract is episode-by-episode, so whenever I get the script, I skip to the end and see, “Did she die in a fiery plane crash? OK, good, I’m safe whew.” So I don’t know, and I’m just taking it kind of day by day, and I feel so lucky to be a part of this experience and opportunity, and, yeah we’ll see where it goes.
You talked a little bit about how Alex has the potential to help the Casey character grow, because he’s usually such a stiff guy. And we’ve seen that Casey doesn’t really like the idea of Morgan and Alex even talking to each other much less forming a romantic relationship. So do you think we’ll maybe see Alex’s feelings for Morgan stir up some conflict between her and Casey?
I think that’s a definite possibility. Yeah, it definitely does affect their relationship, and — how do I put this without giving too much away? — it adds a really fun dynamic between them; let’s just say that.
Alex seems like a really bright character. Obviously, she’s Casey’s daughter and he’s like this spy genius. It would be great to see her become a member of Team Bartowski. Do you think that’s something that might happen or is that something you’d like to see?
Obviously, it would be something I would like to see, and I think there’s a possibility of that. But, once again, I kind of am figuring it all out as you guys are. So, we’ll see. But, I mean, come on, she’s Casey’s daughter, so it’s gotta be in there somewhere.
Let’s talk about your martial arts training. You’re a black belt, right?
Yes, I am.
We’ve seen you do a little fighting on the show. Are we gonna get to see you kick ass on ‘Chuck’ again this season?
I hope so. I had no idea what the storyline was gonna be about, in terms of when I got it, and I had no idea I was gonna be kicking my dad’s butt until the day I got the script, right before we shot. And I was very, very excited. It’s so much fun to get to do that side of my world. Acting was always a huge part of my life, and martial arts was always a huge part of my life, so to get to do both of them at the same time has been so much fun. So yeah, I really do hope that I get to do it again.
Did you train [in martial arts] with the hope that you’d be cast as an action hero in a show or a movie?
You know, I don’t think it was ever in the hopes of that. I come from a sports family. My mom’s a drama teacher, but my dad is an athlete and he taught softball and basketball and all these different sports. There’s four siblings, and my sister was a tennis star, my brother was a football star, and I just would try to claim my own identity. I would say that really bad martial arts movies, like ‘Surf Ninjas’ and all these movies from my childhood made me want to do martial arts … And I fell in love with it.
When I was 16, I got my black belt, but really, at that point it had nothing to do with acting. They were rally two separate entities.
Well, it really worked out for the show in that one scene where you attacked Casey. That was pretty cool.
Yeah, that was very fun.
That’s one of the things I like about the show, it balances romantic drama with really broad comedy and action. Were you a fan of the show before; is that something you liked about it?
Yeah, that’s something I really love about the show. I feel like there’s not a lot of that out there. This is a show that has so many different elements, you know. Like you said, it is very funny, and it’s an action comedy. To do an action comedy and to do it right is kind of a difficult thing, and ‘Chuck’ is really good at doing that.
On top of that, you have this wonderful chemistry between Sarah and Chuck with their relationship and, yeah, it’s just a show that has everything, and that’s what I love about it.
I know that ‘Chuck’ appeals to a sci-fi/geek fanbase. Do you have any geek movie or TV obsessions?
Well, I grew up on ‘Star Trek.’ My mom is a huge Trekkie, and for her birthday, when we were kids, she had a ‘Star Trek’ themed birthday party, and we definitely were dressed up as little Ferengi and Klingons! There’s pictures of it. So through watching TV with my mom, I grew up with sci-fi. She was a huge ‘Firefly’ fan, so you can imagine how excited she was when she found out I was working with Adam. So, yeah, I love sci-fi.
Awesome. So where else can we see you on the tube or on the big screen coming up?
I just did an episode of ‘Detroit 1-8-7.’ It’s episode 6, and that’s on Tuesday night [ABC, 10PM ET], so that should be coming up in a few weeks. I got to fly up to Detroit and work with that cast and crew, and they were so wonderful.
They have a really cool thing going on out there, because Detroit is a city that I feel has been forgotten in a sense. And this show has breathed so much life into the city, and people are so excited and they welcome them with open arms. We got to go to a Tigers game, and I fell in love with the city and with the people of Detroit and the show. I love that show.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to the fans, especially the ‘Chuck’ fans?
Yes, thank you for being amazing! I mean, I had no idea. People talk about how wonderful they are, but now I that I’m experiencing it first-hand, you guys fought so hard to get this show back on the air and you’ve just been so wonderful and supportive of me and my character. I’m just so in love with ‘Chuck’ fans, they’re so wonderful. So thank you.
‘Chuck’ airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
Photo Credits: Polly Cole