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Yvonne Strahovski.

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Yvonne Strahovski on 24, Tickling Louis C.K., and Crying During the Dexter Finale

Monday was a big night for Yvonne Strahovski and her fans. First, the Australian actress made her debut on the two-hour premiere of 24: Live Another Day, where she co-stars opposite Kiefer Sutherland as plucky CIA agent Kate Morgan, and shortly thereafter, popped up in memorable fashion in the second episode of Louie’s new season. [Warning: Louie and 24 premiere night spoilers to follow.]

In the FX comedy, which also made its long-awaited return to TV tonight, the Chuck star played a free-spirited, wealthy model who both seduces and gets accidentally punched in the face by Louis C.K. during a post-coital tickle session. To commemorate her high-profile two-fer, Vulture spoke with Strahovski about the strangeness of having to rub Louis's head, her fear of water, and sobbing over Dexter’s lumberjack fate.

How did you come to be in an episode of Louie?
It was a surprise for me, too. They just called and sent me the episode and asked if I’d be interested in doing something like that. I jumped at the opportunity because obviously Louis is amazing, and his show is amazing. It’s not often that you get to be part of something like that.

And what did you think when you read it?
It was slightly terrifying because … it’s a little weird. And I haven’t seen the episode so I can’t speak to how it turned out, but because it was terrifying it was something I had to do. [Laughs.] I’m sure you’ve heard many actors say, “If it scares you, you should do it.”

What part was terrifying?
Oh, gosh, Louis is an amazing comedian and that was something that was half intimidating, half exciting [to be] working with him on a show that’s so critically acclaimed.

Did seducing Louie come naturally to you?
[Laughs.] I mean, that’s a weird question. How so?

Well, like in the car, your character affectionately rubs his head. Was that something you just did or were you directed to do that?
I think it was actually scripted that I rub his head. This is all Louis’s weirdness. I feel like I had a good rapport with him, so it came naturally in that sense. But the rubbing the head moment, I remember being weirded out by that and by something else that was in there. I just kind of went along with it because Louie was telling me I had to, basically. I haven’t seen it, but there was a bit where the punch happened.

Oh, that’s in there.
Yeah, and he was telling me to lie there in a particular way. He was telling me to pull this expression as I was lying unconscious. I remember thinking, I don’t understand this. I’m supposed to be passed out and not pulling an expression. But he was telling me to do something weird with my face and I haven’t even seen it so I don’t know what it translates into, but I remember in my brain, my inner monologue was, Okay, just trust the guy. It’s gonna be fine.

What expression did he want? A smile, since you had been laughing?
No, he was telling me to pull a weird face. But I don’t know if the weird face ended up in the episode. It was just like a mangled face. Maybe it didn’t look like that. Maybe it looked normal and I was just being weird.

Before he punched you, you were tickling him. Less weird?
That was fun. I went in there. From memory, I think I was an aggressive tickler. But I don’t know if he was tickled or if he is actually ticklish in real life.

Tell me about that scene at the beach. Was that you or a stunt double?
Oh, I went into the water. It was October or September, and it was cold. If they had asked me to do that six months prior, I would have been so terrified, which I kind of still was. I grew up being scared of the water, which is embarrassing to say as an Australian, but it’s true. I was never a water person. Then last summer, I got into surfing. It was a fluke. I fell in love with it, the feeling of being on a board and standing on a board and catching waves even though I am terrified of the waves and the deep water. Before I started surfing, I don’t even know if I would have dived into the water at night alone. It was still scary. I remember I felt the ocean sucking me in and it was quite powerful. But I did it! I did it twice. Who knew on a comedy I’d have so much stunt work to do.

You’ll be doing a lot more of that on 24.  
Yeah, and I’d never seen it. I never watched it week to week, which is why I binge-watched the first season, and then I jumped to the eighth season knowing I wouldn’t have time to complete the rest before I started shooting. I was blown away by how much of a nail-biter it was.

Having skipped the middle, was it emotional for you at all when Jack and Chloe said goodbye at the end of season eight?
I cried. I’m a crier. I always cry. I cry at the dumbest things, too. This is why I sort of steer clear of movies and films that I know are going to be depressing. I don’t care how many awards they’ve won — I know they’re good, I don’t need to watch them because I don’t want to be depressed and I don’t want to cry. This is a revelation, you know. I’ve never spoken about this before.

Did you cry during the finale of Dexter?
Oh, yeah. Totally. Yeah. Even though I knew everything that was going to happen.

Even when you saw Dexter as a lumberjack?
I was crying before that. The whole thing with Debra. I was in tears.

How did you feel about that lumberjack reveal?
It wasn’t so much the surprise of it as it was the way it just hung in the air. It’s a depressing ending. People ask all the time, “What did you think of the ending of Dexter?” I think that was the point. Here’s this guy who has gotten away with killing people for so long. What’s the worst thing that can happen to him? It’s for him to be alone, and left alone with nothing and nobody. It’s not sad in an “I’m gonna cry my eyes out way,” but sad in a really depressing way. And I felt it was appropriate.

Just him and his wood. Getting back to 24, your character Kate is bit of a Jack Bauer herself.
She’s got Jack Bauer–isms, for sure. She’s impulsive and bends the rules and takes matters into her own hands. She’s a great agent, but she’s been demoted because she messed up. She married another CIA agent who she didn’t know was selling secrets to a foreign government.

For the record, I think her dead husband will turn up alive. Since Kate is like Jack, and Jack has put people down in very crazy ways over the years, can we look forward to the same from your character?
Um, I guess I can neither confirm or deny. There’s definitely stuff that has been exciting for me to shoot because it’s stuff I haven’t done, and obviously, I’ve run around with guns before, so yeah, it’ll be very different.

Hopefully you get a moment like Jack in the premiere, dispatching someone while his hands are handcuffed behind his back.
[Laughs] Yeah, you know shooting an episode of 24 is kind of like watching it. It’s fast-paced. And between [executive producer-director] Jon Cassar and Kiefer Sutherland, they know exactly what they’re doing. Kiefer is Jack Bauer through and through.

Does Kiefer stay in character on set?
No, no. He throws a smile or two out there, for sure.

Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images