Still awesome, Ryan McPartlin looks beyond 'Chuck'

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  • I thought I'd share this photo of Ryan McPartlin just because, well, look at him. Now that "Chuck" has ended, McPartlin says he's looking to do something different than his Captain Awesome character.
I thought I'd share this photo of Ryan McPartlin just because, well,… (Handout )
January 26, 2012|By Curt Wagner | RedEye

For five seasons on "Chuck,"Chicago native Ryan McPartlin has been awesome—Captain Awesome, that is—as the brother-in-law of computer geek-turned-superspy Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi).

McPartlin's rotation as Dr. Devon Woodcomb ends at 7 p.m. Jan. 27  with the two-part series finale of the NBC comedy. The little show that could has become the little show that did, going out as creators Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz and the cast wanted—with an ending McPartlin says should satisfy a loyal fan base that saved it from cancellation many times since its debut in 2007.

“It's going to be great,” McPartlin, who grew up in Glen Ellyn, told me Wednesday. “Even though fans will be pleased with how it ends, they’ll say, ‘I wish I had more “Chuck.’ ” And that’s how it should be, always leave them wanting more.

“I wish I could sit and watch it with all the fans out there; that would be great.”

The finale focuses on Chuck and his wife/fellow spy Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), who has lost five years’ worth of memories as a result of dastardly doings by baddie Nicholas Quinn (Angus Macfadyen). But the supporting characters get good screen time as well, McPartlin said, including Awesome and his wife, Ellie (Sarah Lancaster), who have “a big life decision to make.”

McPartlin has been making life decisions since shooting wrapped on the series. He’s signed on for a multi-episode arc on CBS’ “CSI: Miami,” where he’ll play an assistant state’s attorney. He’s also been reading pilot scripts, but is being “selective.”

“We’ve built up some good feelings [with ‘Chuck’] and I don’t want to blow those and do the first thing that comes my way,” he said, laughing. “I’m just trying to change things up a little bit from what Captain Awesome was ... maybe stay away from comedy for a little while.”

Calling the pilot script process a “weird, strange place to be” after five seasons on “Chuck,” he does have his eye on one particular project that could bring him back to his hometown. NBC has ordered a pilot for the drama “Chicago Fire” about a group of Chicago firefighters.

“If it shoots in Chicago, that to me is a no-brainer, knowing guys growing up who were Chicago firefighters who I looked to as these heroes, these gods,” he said. “That pilot to me is a standout ... but you never know what people have in mind for you.”

On Thursday, McPartlin and his “Chuck” friends will get together again for a special screening of the finale at Mann’s Chinese Theater in L.A. It should be less emotional than when filming ended.

“I told my wife ... ‘I’m not going to cry at all,’ ” he said of his final day on set. “I couldn’t keep my [bleep] together.”

I joked with McPartlin that I was going to miss having drinks with the cast at San Diego Comic-Con each year, and he suggested that maybe they should have a reunion there each year. Sounds like a great idea to me. What do you guys think? Below you'll find more from the interview, including his top memories and favorite moments, as well as a few odds and ends, like what he's call the bar he hopes to one day open in Chicago.

TOP 5 “CHUCK” MEMORIES
I asked McPartlin for his top memories, he thought it’d be tough list to make. Then he rattled these off quickly, telling me they are in no particular order.

Walking onstage at Comic Con for the first time
“We sold out the biggest auditorium there every year and just seeing that reception, going, “Oh my God, I had no idea, like we are a hit show in this little world.” It must have been like Apple in the early years when they were being outsold by other computer companies, but the fans who loved them that were at Mac World were going nuts and they go, “We’re like the Beatles here, this is unbelievable.”

Cutting up with Josh Gomez
We were about to go into overtime, which anybody who knows union rules knows its costs the production thousands of dollars. … I wasn’t even on camera. It was Josh’s coverage and I could not stop laughing to the point where I had to turn my back to him and read the lines off the paper. I could not keep a straight face and it was the stupidest thing. He just kept giving himself a milk mustache and saying what a grownup he is as he’s drinking from hot cocoa. He’s like “Yeah, I'm grown up.” He’s talking about how he’s matured in life and then he’s just sitting there with his milk mustache and I just couldn’t keep a straight face.

I did that a lot with him actually. I got the giggles and they just were like “We can’t work you guys together anymore because you’re going to cost us too much money.”

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