July 30, 1982
Sydney, New South Wales, AU
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Australian actress Yvonne Strahovski became an overnight sensation in the United States as Agent Sarah Walker on the well-loved but perennially ratings-challenged action-comedy series "Chuck" (NBC, 2007-2012). The striking and athletic actress more than fulfilled the role's requirements as a tough but beautiful agent pressed with protecting Zachery Levi, who had accidentally gained possession of government secrets. But Strahovski also brought a great deal of comic timing, as well as vulnerability to the character, which helped her expand into other television and film roles before and after "Chuck's" finale. Though initially assigned to the "girlfriend" position in "Killer Elite" (2011) and "The Guilt Trip" (2012), Strahovski proved her versatility with turns as an accused killer on "Dexter" (Showtime, 2006- ) and on stage in a Broadway revival of "Golden Boy." Subsequent leading roles in features like the action-horror hybrid "I, Frankenstein" (2013) pointed to Strahovski's ascension in the Hollywood market from TV player to feature film star.
Born Yvonne Jacqueline Strzechowski in Sydney, Australia on July 30, 1982, she was the daughter of two Polish immigrants, electronic engineer Peter Strzechowski and his wife Bozena, a lab technician. Strahovski later adopted the phonetic spelling of her family's surname at the behest of "Chuck" producer Josh Schwartz, who suggested the change to avoid pronunciation problems. She developed an interest in acting after playing Viola in a school production of William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," and later graduated from the University of Western Sydney's Theatre Nepean before launching her own acting company. Strahovski's onscreen career began with supporting roles on Australian television series, including a recurring turn on the youth-oriented drama "headland" (Seven Network, 2005-06) and as a federal agent on the adventure series "Sea Patrol" (Nine Network, 2007-2011).
Appearances in Australian-made features like "Gone" (2007) preceded a jaunt to the United States, where she auditioned for the 2007 remake of "The Bionic Woman" (NBC). While there, she sent an audition tape to the producers of "Chuck," who arranged for her to read lines of dialogue with the show's male lead, Zachery Levi. Their chemistry was palpable enough to land her the role of Sarah Walker, a tough government agent assigned to protect Levi's Chuck Bartowski, a hapless electronics store clerk who accidentally downloaded top-secret information into his brain. During the course of the show's tumultuous five-year stint on the network, Walker and Chuck moved from uneasy allies to romantic partners and eventually newlyweds before the show's final episode in 2012. For her efforts on the series, Strahovski received the Teen Choice Award for Choice Action TV Actress in 2010, as well as a nomination in the same category the following year.
While navigating "Chuck's" frequent on-again off-again status, which saw the series poised for cancellation and then pulled back from the brink by fan support on several occasions, Strahovski expanded her feature career with lead and featured turns in the American thriller "The Canyon" (2009) and "Matching Jack" (2010) in her native Australia. She also launched a secondary career as a voice actor for several popular titles in the "Mass Effect" (Electronic Arts, 2008- ) action-science fiction game franchise, as well as the lead character in the English-language version of the third-person shooter game "The Third Birthday" (Square Enix, 2011). Strahovski's work in "Mass Effect 2" (Electronic Arts, 2010) netted a nomination for Best Performance by a Human Female from the Spike Video Game Awards in 2010. Her first major American film role came as Jason Statham's romantic interest in "Killer Elite" (2011), before playing a similar role for comic effect in "The Guilt Trip" (2012) with Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand.
That same year, Strahovski made her Broadway debut in a well-received revival of Clifford Odets' "Golden Boy," for which she received positive reviews for her turn as the brassy but emotionally bruised girlfriend of a boxing manager who was wooed and in turn fell in love with a young violinist-turned-prizefighter. The year was rounded out by a recurring turn on the seventh season of "Dexter" as a mysterious young woman whose participation in a three-state killing spree as a teenager attracted the attention of Michael C. Hall's avenging serial murderer. Strahovski then segued into the American/Australian horror film "I, Frankenstein" (2013), which cast her as a scientist pressed by demonic figures into reanimating the dead, while Aaron Eckhart, as the Frankenstein Monster, attempted to intervene.
By Paul Gaita