All American Guy
Former top-level football player, and now ‘Captain Awesome’ in the hit TV show Chuck, Ryan McPartlin is one lucky dude that seemingly has it all, but remains humble, chilled and smart about his life choices. Here, he models for DA MAN in this exclusive shoot and interview.
Photographs: Philip Buiser and Eric Silverberg
Styling: Ashley Phan-Weston
Interview: RJ Simons
Ryan McPartlin, aka Devon ‘Captain Awesome’ Woodcomb or Clutch Powers to younger folks, is one of those guys that you meet and just say to yourself, ‘really?’ Is he really that humble and funny, really that talented and really that cool and confident without being arrogant? Yes, really. This is that guy. The 35-year-old McPartlin, who has two young sons and a hot actress wife, has seemingly made all the right moves since growing up in the U.S. city of Chicago and playing Division 1 American football at the University of Illinois. After university, he modeled for Abercrombie & Fitch—and still has a strong sense of fashion—then started getting into the acting scene some 10 years ago with roles on such critically acclaimed projects like Everything She Ever Wanted with Gina Gershon, Living with Fran alongside Fran Drescher and Mad Men alongside that all-star cast including Jon Hamm; just to name of few of the dozens of parts he’d played before landing his biggest gig on Chuck. With a great sense of self-deprecating humor, Ryan was good enough to sit down and answer some of our questions.
DA MAN: What can you tell us about your role on Chuck as Captain Awesome?
Ryan McPartlin: Captain Awesome is probably the best role that any actor could hope for in Hollywood. Seriously, there isn’t a better name for any character on any show. He’s an awesome surgeon, husband to Ellie, brother-in-law to Chuck and he can really fill out a pair of spandex. What else can I say?
DA MAN: I’ve read that you do your own stunts and often end up in a chiropractor’s office … what are some of the stunts you’ve done and what kinds of injuries?
Ryan McPartlin: I had to repeatedly tackle Adam Baldwin in a stunt. I really went all out on the first take and, unfortunately, I forgot that I’d have to repeat that tackle about a dozen times to match the first take from all camera angles. I earned a lot more respect from stuntmen that day.
DA MAN: Any injuries worse than football?
Ryan McPartlin: I know the stuntmen on our show have worse injuries than most of the football players I know, but I won’t pretend that I belong in that category. I’m an actor and we’re pretty pampered, no matter what anybody tells you.
DA MAN: I’ve read that you’ve become a dad (a couple years ago), has that inspired you to do more projects for kids?
Ryan McPartlin: I definitely did Clutch Powers in hopes of scoring points with my boys and wanting to be a bit cooler in their eyes.
DA MAN: Clutch Powers is another interesting character name, who you’ve portrayed in animated projects, what is it about you that inspires such interesting nicknames/character names?
Ryan McPartlin: I think that I have a very positive energy force that comes across in my style of acting, hence the character names Captain Awesome and Clutch Powers.
DA MAN: On Chuck, you are somewhat of a sex symbol, often partially clothed and admired by women, but on the Lego flicks, Clutch Powers is likely idolized by tons of youngsters, probably the kids of those same women that dig you, is that a difficult thing to balance?
Ryan McPartlin: I don’t buy into my ‘sex symbol’ press. I’d like to think of myself as a guy you’d like to grab a beer with or have at the dinner table. I try to take the focus off of myself.
DA MAN: You’ve been in the acting game for over 10 years now. What has been your favorite role besides your two current ones, Captain Awesome and Clutch Powers?
Ryan McPartlin: As funny as it sounds, I’m pretty proud of a Lifetime Network movie called Everything She Ever Wanted with Gina Gershon. We really hammered out that miniseries in a short amount of time and had fun with it.
DA MAN: You’ve also starred on a show called Living With Fran, would you say that was your breakthrough role?
Ryan McPartlin: Living with Fran was definitely a breakthrough for me. It gave me the confidence to know I could do primetime TV and make a live audience laugh at the same time. Plus, Fran Drescher taught me a tremendous amount about the ins and outs of a sitcom.
DA MAN: Fran Drescher sounds interesting, who are some other interesting people you’ve worked with and learned from?
Ryan McPartlin: Zac Levi and Josh Gomez on Chuck have really taught me that you can have fun with your buddies on-screen, and those laughs are contagious for the audience. Matt Weiner, who created Mad Men and directed the episode that I was in, taught me that details are very important to the performance and every moment better be truthful. It was a challenging experience that I really appreciated.
DA MAN: How do you describe your style?
Ryan McPartlin: I’m a tall, lean guy, so my style is all about the cut of clothes. I don’t like to be a billboard for labels, so I try to wear clothes that don’t advertise their labels.
DA MAN: Who are your style icons?
Ryan McPartlin: Paul Newman is my style icon and my icon in just about every other thing he did with his life.
DA MAN: What is your fashion must-have this season?
Ryan McPartlin: I love a good cashmere, zip-up hoodie, but the sleeves better be long enough and it can’t be too baggy in the body.
DA MAN: Where do you go to get your favorite fashion gear?
Ryan McPartlin: Most of my clothing comes from Ever on Melrose in Hollywood, but my hoodies are by Vince.
DA MAN: Your voice is really strong and has that ‘All-American’ vibe. Is that natural or is that something you’ve worked on?
Ryan McPartlin: I’ve had this voice since I was 10 years old. Thank God I grew into it because it was a little creepy for a little kid.
DA MAN: Have you seen a change in the scripts you’re offered?
Ryan McPartlin: Chuck is really well liked within the industry, so I feel like I’m on the radar now, but I wouldn’t say that Matt Damon needs to watch his back just yet.
DA MAN: Have you admired the arc of anyone’s career in particular?
Ryan McPartlin: Speaking of Matt Damon, I’ve followed his path as well as Ben Affleck’s. I think they’re just starting to scratch the surface of what they’re capable of. Hopefully, the same is true for myself.
DA MAN: Tell us about your football exploits. You played D-1 ball in the Big 10, right?
Ryan McPartlin: I played tight end for the football team at the University of Illinois, but I was more or less a tackling dummy. Luckily, I’m a better actor than football player.
DA MAN: In your role on Chuck you play a former football guy from UCLA, however Illinois and UCLA were rivals back in the day, how does that sit with you, or your ex-teammates?
Ryan McPartlin: Illinois wishes that UCLA was a big rival. We’ll just be happy to win a few games this year.
DA MAN: What do you do for fun now, or to loosen up?
Ryan McPartlin: I play fantasy football. Josh Gomez is the new co-owner of my team.
DA MAN: Were you more physical or intellectual growing up?
Ryan McPartlin: I was the rare mix of both. I needed motivation for my actions.
DA MAN: Is there anything you’d change from your past?
Ryan McPartlin: Besides that one night when … oh never mind, I wouldn’t change a thing.
DA MAN: Who would you have at your dream dinner party?
Ryan McPartlin: I’d love to have a dinner party with Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. I think that would make for some great dinner conversation.
DA MAN: What has been your proudest moment so far?
Ryan McPartlin: My proudest moment is when my child tells me he loves me out of the blue and without me having to bribe him with candy.
DA MAN: What ambition would you like to achieve?
Ryan McPartlin: I’d like to set up a scholarship fund at some point in my life. First, however, I have to set one up for my kids.
DA MAN: Do you still do household chores, and/or help with the kids?
Ryan McPartlin: Of course, I’m about as normal as you get, but I have an extraordinary job.
DA MAN: What sorts of things irk you about the showbiz industry?
Ryan McPartlin: Nothing. It is what it is and each person has the freedom and power to determine their path within this industry as well as any other.
To see the full feature with more full-size images, click here for the DA MAN October/November 2010 back issue.