Last time I interviewed actor Vik Sahay, the TV show that he had worked on for the last five years, Chuck, was shooting its final episodes and he shared how it was starting to get emotional on the set. He also said he had a lot of promising work coming up, and his schedule never looked busier.
It’s several months later, Chuck has wrapped, the final episodes have aired, but there’s no absence of Sahay’s work out there. If anything, there’s more than ever. Recently he can be seen playing Prateek Duraiswamy, Steve Stifler’s tyrannical boss in American Reunion. He also is in a short film that premiered at the Indian Film Festival in Los Angeles last week, The 5, and recently filmed in Canada the yet to be released picture, My Awkward Sexual Adventure.
In this interview, Vik talks about the ending of Chuck (including the intense strain of hitting those high notes on “Take on Me”), and gives more detail about his recent projects and how there’s no rest on the horizon, which he’s taking to be a very fortunate turn in his career.
You have so much going on. Do you mind though if I spend a couple of minutes to gush over how awesome the ending of Chuck was?
Did you enjoy it?
Did we! You see, our entire family watched Chuck together from beginning to end. My son started watching when he was five and now he’s ten. He’s grown up with the show. As soon as those opening chords of “Take on Me” came on, we were shouting and high-fiving one another. “It’s Jeffster!”
That's so sweet. Wow, what an amazing thing.
You certainly impressed us. We didn’t know you could hit high notes like that.
They didn’t end easy in the singing world for me. It’s like, let’s do this death-defying act. But it was great. I though it was an amazingly appropriate song. It was really beautiful to tackle and I thought it worked very well in the whole show. It was an old school epic in a way.
It’s not just that, but Jeff and Lester got a significant plot in the end. I love that.
Yes we did [laughs]. It was an appropriate way for us to end. Oddly, getting our dreams in the end. Lester is certainly not for all markets, but for the niche German market, absolutely.
It worked for Hasselhoff, why not Lester?
Exactly. The comparisons between Hasselhoff and Lester are endless [laughs].
Photo courtesy of Julijette
While you were doing this, you were trying to film multiple things. What were you filming while you were trying to get through those last episodes of Chuck?
I was filming a couple of things. I was filming a film called My Awkward Sexual Adventure up in Winnipeg, Canada. It was written by this genius writer named Jonas Chernick. I was literally, during the last couple of episodes, flying back and forth, shooting that there and then coming back to sunny California to shoot those last emotional episodes [of Chuck]. I had already shot at that point the short film that’s being shown at the Indian Film Festival in Los Angeles.
That one is The 5. You’re one of the five?
It’s written by this guy named Ravi Kapoor, who was on Crossing Jordan and many other things. It’s kind of based on an ancient epic from India and this guy takes one chapter of it and makes it a world unto itself in modern times. It’s so amazingly strange and sweet. On the surface the characters look like this gang, they’re very cool in their matching suits and all that, and maybe dangerous and maybe up to no good but when you get deeper in you realize there’s some strange ritual in the making because they lost their mom, the matriarch of the family. It’s slightly absurd, it’s amazingly tender, I think that Ravi did a phenomenal job with it. He’s somebody I think as a filmmaker to watch for sure. I can’t wait to see what he does.
It stars, among other people, Samrat Chakrabarti, Parvesh Cheena, Anil Kumar, Sunil Malhotra, and it debuts at the Arclight at the International Indian Film Festival. It was really sweet and special to do for me, despite the insane fatigue of doing many projects at once.
At least that was filmed in Los Angeles.
Yes, that’s right. It was filmed in Los Angeles. To me, that’s a gift at that point.
And then you’ve got American Reunion. I’ll admit I haven’t seen that one yet. Do you have a lot of time in the film?
I have enough time that I feel a part of it. I’m in there enough that I’m routing for it. It’s such a wild thing to be a part of, this huge, beloved franchise with these characters that have been in the culture for over a decade. I got attached to the wild side of that with Stifler, the renegade character of the whole thing. You go with them to this milestone in any North American life, the high school reunion. You celebrate youth and you cling to it and you pretend it never faded and you realize how sad it is that you’re so wrong about it not fading.
The movie is a great universal opportunity for humiliation and disappointment and nostalgia which fits perfectly for common ground for a comedy. I play Stifler’s boss so I’m a part of the very harsh, very, very harsh reality of his grown up life. It was a blast and I’m excited for folks who are getting to see it. I think Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg really saved the best for this series.
That sounds like a plum role — getting to torture a slacker, someone who’s never grown up.
Exactly. Going head to head with that boor that is Seann William Scott, it’s fantastic.
What was it like working with Seann William Scott?
There’s the surreal aspect of it because you know the name Stifler and you read the name Stifler and then you hear Stifler when you’re on the set. Then they call cut and it’s Seann William’s body. He’s the most, humble, nice, welcoming, warm, complimentary guy around. There’s always the possibly of it being pretty daunting because a) they’re movie stars and b) it’s such an established thing and they know each other so well. They couldn’t have been more accommodating and open and willing to hear me, not exactly the shyest about presenting my ideas and thoughts on the scene. They’re very good about going, “Absolutely, let’s work that, that’s a great idea, let’s feel that out, or how about it works like this.” It felt very collaborative at the end and very much like working on anything that people have passion for.
Looking at filming locations, that was filming at Atlanta. You’re doing quite a trek there. When did you film the movie?
We filmed that, I think it’s been about a year. It was around this time [last year] we were in Atlanta shooting.
Atlanta in April isn’t too bad.
It’s beautiful. It’s really beautiful.
So, you’ve had a couple of things that have premiered within a week of each other. So what’s next?
Yes, there is. Something that I was in a very, very fortunate position to have booked a pilot and a film, and then have the incredible fortunate “problem” of having to choose one or the other because they’re done at the same time. I chose the film. It’s a dramatic, darker role that shoots overseas in Europe. I can’t today reveal the name of it because we’re just closing up negotiations, but it’s going to be exciting. I spent a good five years in television interspersed with some film work but this is a nice chance to bite into something a little deeper and darker. Stretch my old school dramatic chops a little bit.
You are open to doing TV again someday?
Sure, absolutely. There was the lure of being on a film set for sure. All this holds a special place in my heart to being on a film it allows for my natural approach to the work as an actor which is full immersion and staying inside character for a few months. It wasn’t just that, it’s looking for material that excites me. The pilot was fantastic, don’t get me wrong, I just decided to take a right turn instead of a left a turn at this particular juncture. It’s about the material, not film vs. TV.
That sounds great! It doesn’t sound like you’re getting a chance to relax after everything.
Really not. Again, I consider myself unbelievably lucky that I’m getting work, getting to work on things that I really love. I’ll relax when I’m dead.
American Reunion is currently running in theaters across the country. Chuck season five will be released on DVD and Blu-ray May 8.