Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Naked Truth: Yvonne Strahovski

[The Naked Truth is a feature celebrating the lives and careers of the most talented women that pop culture has to offer. The fact that they're also all incredibly gorgeous is just a great excuse to post as many stunning images as possible. You can see more of this sort of thing at Flixist's Some Like It Hot feature.]

This Friday sees Chuck reach the end of its improbable five-season run. In itself, that is something to mourn, but doubly so when taking into account that it means an end to five years of having our television screens graced by the wonderful Yvonne Strahovski. 

Excellent though Chuck's entire cast is, Strahovski has to be considered the breakout star. Her character, Sarah Walker, was immediately propelled into the nerd high consciousness, and not just for her willingness to indulge the Buy More wind machine. As we bid a fond farewell to the series, let's take a moment to pay tribute to this generation's Emma Peel.

She's everyone's favourite athletic, ass-kicking Aussie. Yvonne Strahovski, welcome to your Naked Truth...

Yvonne Strahovski was born on July 30th 1982 in Sydney, Australia. Of Polish ancestry, her real name is spelt 'Strzechowski', although she changed it to a more audience-friendly phonetic spelling at the request of Chuck creator, Josh Schwartz. Strahovski caught the acting bug early, playing Viola in a school production of Twelfth Night. In the play, Viola disguises herself as Cesario, a man, which must have caused some confusing feelings for male audience members.

Strahovski featured in a number of Australian television programmes before her arrival on American television. Unlike every other Aussie actress in history, she did not appear in either Neighbours or Home And Away, but did make an appearance in the Jackass spoof Double The Fist (steady) and took the more prominent role of Freya in the university-set drama headLand from 2005-2006. Her first leading movie role was in 2007 Australian thriller Gone.

It was later that year when her big break arrived. Sending in audition tapes for a number of US television series, including the ill-fated Bionic Woman, she received a call back the following day to test alongside Zachary Levi for the role of Sarah Walker in Chuck. Anyone who has seen the searing chemistry that the two share on-screen will know how well that went. She was officially cast a week later and moved to the US after six months.

Strahovski made an immediate impact on the programme's fans, not only for being extremely sexy, but by giving Walker a personality that set her apart from the many blank-slate 'powerful' women populating television and movie screens. The character could annihilate enemy forces with the best of them - standing toe to toe with the Hero Of Canton, Adam Baldwin - but gradually opened up to reveal someone genuinely protective of Chuck's sweetness and finding herself more and more drawn to the idea of a normal life with him.

But as I said, being extremely sexy didn't hurt either, and the series certainly didn't hold back in taking advantage of its star's aesthetic talents...

...Not to mention handing her the title of 'Giant Blonde Shemale of Thailand'...

Strahovski even got to use her skills as a native Polish speaker in a number of episodes: 'Chuck vs The Wookiee', 'Chuck vs The Three Words' and 'Chuck vs The Honeymooners', one of my personal favourites for showing off Strahovski's talent as a comedienne.

Outside the Chuck-iverse, Strahovski was taking increasingly high profile roles across all media. In 2007, she voiced lead character Miranda Lawson in 2010's high profile videogame, Mass Effect 2. Unfortunately, the character has mainly become known for the less-than-mature nature of her outfit and somewhat unflattering render of Strahovski's immaculate countenance...

And seriously?

Strahovski will be reprising the role in the upcoming Mass Effect 3, hopefully with a slightly less embarrassing character model. Her other videogame voice work includes The 3rd Birthday, a PlayStation Portable title spinning off from Parasite Eve.

The movie world also came calling, with Strahovski taking a lead role in 2009's The Canyon, about a couple who get lost in the Grand Canyon and presumably have bad things happen along the way, and had her many talents wasted in 2011 actioner Killer Elite, in which she pitched up in the girlfriend role of Anne alongside Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert DeNiro, when in reality she could have kicked all of their arses several times over.

There aren't many decent quality screenshots of her in either of those two movies, so here's one from her internet-pleasing College Humour skit parodying Ke$ha, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry:

As Chuck comes to an end, Strahovski can look back on a role that won her a number of awards. In 2010, she picked up the Teen Choice Award for Choice Action TV Actress, and was nominated again in 2011. In the same year, Cosmo Australia gave her the titles of Fun Fearless Female Of The Year and Favourite TV Actress.

Of course, the magazines wanted photos as well...

So what can we expect from Strahovski once Sarah Walker has taken her bow? She'll be appearing later this year in comedy My Mother's Curse, alongside Seth Rogen, Adam Scott (Ben from Parks & Recreation), Danny Pudi (Community's Abed) and Colin Hanks. It looks as though she'll be playing the love interest - when has a character called 'Jessica' not been either the love interest or an überbitch? - fingers crossed that she will have more to do than react to the male characters for two hours. She has joined the cast of 2013's I, Frankenstein, a fantasy-comedy in which: 'An unlikely hero comes to the aid of humankind as a race of supernatural creatures look to take over the Earth'. Inexplicably, IMDB lists 'Neo Noir' among the movie's Plot Keywords. Hmmm.

So that's Yvonne Strahovski's Naked Truth. Aussie actress. Ass-kicker. Videogame voiceover vixen. Future superstar. Sarah Walker, though everyone has their fingers crossed that you finally get to cross the threshold of your dream house with husband Chuck, you will be missed. There's a sneaking suspicion, though, that Yvonne Strahovski won't be gone for long...


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