Spotlight on CHUCK’s Mekenna Melvin

CHUCK season 4 is rolling along quite nicely, hitting a solid combination of humor, spy drama, family insanity, and baby-proofing that makes it one of the most fun hours on TV each week.  On tonight’s all new episode, John Casey’s daughter is back and she’s causing trouble for my favorite crime fighting team – John and Morgan!

I had a chance to speak with Alex’s portrayer, Mekenna Melvin about the role that almost wasn’t, and what else she’s been up to!

Chuck is one of my favorite shows on TV.  Such a funny thing, that here we come, with Casey having a child.  Had you been a fan of the show before you got involved, and how did you get involved?
well, so I had seen the show a couple of times but really up until a year ago, I was a waitress working, and didn’t even have cable.  It was one of those things that I had seen a couple times and I liked it but I wasn’t a hard core fan yet.  Once I found out that I was going to be auditioning for the show, I obviously went and did my research and fell in love with the show.  Once I got on the show, I’m now in the middle of Season 2, and I’ve gotten all the DVDs and stuff and I love it.  But how I got involved in the show.  So the initial breakdown that we got was 20 year old girl, one line, one word, which was mom.  I didn’t know she was Casey’s daughter.  I just knew that I had to go and say Mom.  So then I’m thinking, like how am I going to make this special, I don’t know.  And I leave, and I find out that not only did I book it but now she has a name and she’s John Casey’s daughter that nobody knew he had.  I was like, oh my god, this is so exciting, and I thought that was the coolest thing that could ever happen.  And then I went and shot the first episode and in post production, they gave me a second line.  And it was like, oh my god, this is even more exciting.  That was it; I thought I did my job.  A couple months later they said “we really want to bring Alex back” but they wanted to recast me because I didn’t have a lot of TV credits and if they were going to make the character bigger, they wanted to be sure that I could handle the role.  So I went back in and I reauditioned to the casting director and they sent the tape over to the powers that be, and I was like, PLEASE let me get it, this is such a cool show and an opportunity.  And I did, and it’s been episode by episode and it’s so exciting to be a part of it.

How many episodes have you shot for S4?
Currently, I’ve shot 2 and I’m going on my third.

Tell me a little bit about the episodes you’re in and the storyline we can expect for Alex this season?
Well, without giving too much of the good stuff away, I think that they’re focusing a lot on, yes, Alex’s relationship with her father, and there’s a lot of fun, juicy stuff with her and Morgan, and that’s all I can tell you [laughs]. You have to watch!

It’s funny with a show like this – if I say this, I give away that part of the storyline, if I say that, I give that away.

As the story continues, would you love to continue doing more – is there a chance for there to be a bigger role for Alex in this CHUCK world?
I do.  She’s really kind of an awesome thing for John Casey’s character.  Up until now, he’s been the hard, strong, kind of almost cold, agent, and now you find out that he has this whole other family side which is really cool and makes him really human.  I think for Alex, it’s exciting.  The first time we met her, we find out that she had this other side, and could do self defense and stuff.  I think it would be exciting to have that action side fleshed out for her, however that works in the story.  She accidentally stumbles upon a mission, I think it could be really fun.

What else do you have coming up besides CHUCK?
I just shot an episode of DETROIT 1-8-7, which was so much fun.  Everyone on that show is amazing. They have a really cool cast, and they all really love their show.  My character is kind of the opposite of Alex.  She may or may not have done the crime.  It was great.  The director was Paul McCrane, who you might remember from being an actor (Rocket Romano from ER), but this time he was directing us, which was really, really exciting.  It was exciting to work with an actor, who you were excited for as an actor, but to have in a different medium.

You had to go out to Detroit, right?  I know they shoot on location there.
Yeah, we went out to Detroit.  I was there for a week.  I had 2 actual shoot days, so I really had two full days off, and I’d never been to Detroit.  I thought, I’m here, I really want to experience this city.  I know Detroit has been hit by the economy, and it is an amazing city.  The people who are there so love their city.  They are so excited about the show being shot there. They are so excited.  We went to a Tigers game, some of the cast and crew, and everybody was so warm and wonderful.  It was a fantastic experience all around.

I talked to a few people from the show, and they all say the same thing – about how much the people love their city and it makes wanting to do the show so much more exciting.
It really does.  We went, me and one of the other girls who was working with me.  We wanted to go get Detroit food.  We went to this really cool restaurant called Flow’s, and it’s kind of a barbecue joint and it’s amazing.  I guess we kind of stuck out like a sore thumb that we weren’t from Detroit.  People came up to us like, where are you guys from? Oh you’re from California?  Well, Detroit’s amazing, and make sure you go home and tell people.  They were so welcoming.  They love their city, which makes you fall in love with it.

Would you like to stay in the world of TV as you go in your career, or is the ultimate goal a movie career?
Definitely, right now, I’m as it comes.  I’m so grateful to TV because that’s obviously where I’ve been able to have my start but I think ultimately, as an actress, I hope to have a lot of opportunities in a lot of different areas in the industry.  I’d like to do it all.

Was it a decision one day when you were younger that you wanted to be an actress or was it a feeling you had all along?
I am the daughter of a drama teacher.  She was a drama teacher and theatre director.  So everything when I was little, mom, please take me to auditions.  She said I’m not being a stage mom.  If when you’re 18 you still want to do this, let me know.  So it came around, 18, it was like, Mom, I’m 18, I still want to be an actress, I’m moving to NY.  I moved to NY and I studied out there.  To answer the question, acting is one thing in my life that has always been something consistent and solid to me and it’s always something that I wanted to do.

If you could pick one ultimate goal, your favorite kind of role to play, what would it be, do you think?
That’s hard!  I think, ultimately, what any actor really looks for, is a character, a person who is just completely well rounded and fleshed out as a human being.  Often times it’s hard to get those roles, especially early on, but when you do, it’s amazing.