The hot-shot heroine of 24, Yvonne Strahovski, works slouchy knits and relaxed tailoring in the chicest shade around

There are several reasons to be happy about the return of 24 to our TV screens after a four-year break. It’s now set in London; Stephen Fry plays the Prime Minister; Kiefer Sutherland is back on whispery, lethal form as its tortured hero Jack Bauer. But for us, the real highlight is the show’s awesome new wild-card heroine Kate Morgan. Clever, impulsive and extremely dangerous when armed, she’s giving even that loose cannon Bauer a run for his money.

The woman behind our new TV girl crush is 31-year-old Australian actress Yvonne Strahovski, who confesses she hadn’t actually seen much of the show before she won the role. “When they offered it to me I started binge-watching each series until 2 o’clock in the morning,” she says. Does Kiefer have that amazing, gravelly voice in real life? “You know, he’s actually got a beautiful singing voice. I hear him playing his guitar on set.”

Yvonne is no stranger to a hard-boiled action role. Before 24 she spent five years playing CIA agent Sarah Walker in action comedy series Chuck, then there was a darker turn as serial killer Hannah in another big US prime-time show, Dexter. “In terms of guns and fights, I’m pretty used to that sort of thing. Though gunfire on set makes me nervous – you’re using rubber bullets, but they’re still dangerous.” Filming a show like 24 has brought extra challenges: the real-time set up means Yvonne and the rest of the cast had their hair cut every three weeks to keep it exactly the right length, and strict tabs were kept on their weight. Then of course there’s wearing the same set of clothes every day. “When you start filming you have to like the shoes you’re wearing, because you’re going to be in the same pair for a while.”

Growing up in Sydney, the daughter of Polish immigrant parents (she speaks Polish fluently), Yvonne says acting was on the cards from childhood. “There are some very incriminating home videos of me forcing my friends to play characters in skits I’d made up.” After drama school and a sprinkling of Australian TV roles, she flew to LA in 2006 to try her luck Stateside. On her second trip out, she won the part on Chuck and never used her return ticket. The pace of LA life was initially a shock to the system. “I went straight into filming and we were working 18-hour days, which I now know is quite typical for a network TV series – but at the time I thought, ‘This cannot be legal!’” It also took her a while to get used to the red-carpet appearances. “For my first big event I didn’t know what to do, how to pose, where to look. They gave me a designer dress to wear – I didn’t even know who Dolce & Gabbana were so I memorised the name to tell people what I was wearing.” She describes her interest in fashion as an “acquired taste” which began when she moved to Hollywood, but she loves the loose, boyish tailoring we’ve given her for today’s shoot. “It’s not the sort of thing I’ve modelled in before, but it’s actually very similar to my own style.” Are there any looks on the rail she wants to take home? “I love that cosy knitwear mixed with the long-line skirt from Ralph Lauren.”

Despite the fact that 24 is already on air when we meet, Yvonne is still filming the final episodes in London, living in a rented flat in Notting Hill. Has she had a chance to explore the UK? “I love a road trip, so I’ve driven all the way down to St Ives and up the east coast. I’ve definitely increased my tea intake too.” When filming does finally wrap, she’ll be off home to Malibu for some hard-earned sunshine and surf. “I am going to be in that water eight hours a day – you won’t be able to tear me away.”

24: Live Another Day is currently on Sky 1

InStyle UK August 2014

24: Live Another Day 9x11

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