Tonight, NBC will air an all-new episode of Community. Earlier this week, ScreenCrave spoke to stars Alison Brie and Danny Pudi about the show’s new look behind and in front of the camera. They also answered burning questions about Jeff and Annie, their dream guest stars and whether or not the show’s quirkiness is a help or hinderance.
The fourth season got off to a rocky start, but it seems to have found its groove. Are you relieved that the show keeps pushing things with the new episodes?
Alison Brie: Yes. It’s a tough thing to learn that your showrunner is not coming back to the show and [Dan Harmon] is such a big part of the show. So I think we were a little nervous and didn’t know what to expect, but that’s not really a new feeling, having worked on our show for four years now. When we met the new guys they really stressed a lot how much they loved the show and wanted to keep it the same… We all were certainly very vocal this season to sort of speak to what our characters would or wouldn’t do and the way things might go on the show. We were all sort of working together to keep the show intact.
Danny Pudi: I think for us, the one thing that we wanted to do and make sure that comes across this year is our genuine love for the show… Still there is an extra level of responsibility we have as actors to really make sure that we’re still staying true to who these people are and the world around Greendale. But it’s definitely like you can’t replace Dan Harmon.
We haven’t seen Annie and Abed interact a lot so far this season. But they had several moments together last year. Do they have a certain effect on each other?
Alison Brie: I think there are things in episodes that just reference that Annie and Abed are very close. Like in the Halloween episode that just aired a couple of weeks ago, Abed references that they’re watching Cougar Town together now and they do a little glass clink like they’re starting to have little idiosyncrasies like Troy and Abed.
Where is Jeff and Annie’s relationship right now? Are we going to see more progress in that area?
Alison Brie: This season is sort of a fun season for Jeff and Annie fans because as usual their relationship doesn’t really progress. I think the last episode showed a progression in terms of Annie’s maturity and their maturity as friends in terms of her admitting that she sort of has a crush on Jeff. I think that Annie will always have a crush on Jeff and I don’t know that Jeff will ever be fully comfortable really getting together with Annie. It’s not as primary a focus on Jeff’s radar as it probably is on Annie’s and that’s fair. So I think this season is sort of like them just acknowledging and almost kind of moving past it in some ways to being good friends.
Do you think Community is going the way of Arrested Development? Is it a show ahead of its time that won’t be appreciated until years later?
Alison Brie: I do think that it’s always been a very progressive show. Dan Harmon set this precedent of really pushing the boundaries of what could be on network television. And in that way I think that it will take people some time to catch up with it because it’s something you’re not used to seeing. It’s a little bit of a scary thing. The genius of the show is that it sort of weaves in all of those types of things. Later this season we have our Christmas episode, which is sort of an homage to an Alfred Hitchcock movie, Rope. So it’s not like all of our references are completely current and in the moment. Some of the stuff it really spans genres and time periods and things like that.
Who is the most difficult person to do a scene with without breaking into laughter?
Danny Pudi: Alison probably.
Alison Brie: Yes probably Danny.
Danny Pudi: I’d say probably Alison.
Alison Brie: Yes.
Danny Pudi: Because it’s down to the point now where Alison specifically targets me.
Alison Brie: No Danny targets me. And here’s the problem, because we’re so close and there’s inside jokes inside other jokes. It’s like Danny just lifts an eyebrow across the table to me and I just lose it… We are across from each other at the study room table, so we’ll have moments.
Danny Pudi: We allow ourselves to laugh when know it’s not going to end up in the episode.
Who is a dream guest star that you’d want on the show?
Alison Brie: I actually said earlier today that I’ve always thought Jason Bateman would be– because we’ve talked about Arrested Development here and I just…
Danny Pudi: I’d love that. I mean dream would be I would love Zach Galifianakis. I think that would be super fun…
Alison Brie: Oh my God amazing. I just think Bruce Willis.
Danny Pudi: Bruce Willis would be unbelievable.
Alison Brie: Paintball with Bruce Willis.
Danny Pudi: Paintball, we could do like a Looper. Oh that would be amazing.
Danny Pudi: I think Gillian [Jacobs] once said Amy Sedaris and I was like, yes.
Alison Brie: Oh that would be – that’s…
Danny Pudi: She fits our world. That would be great.
Alison Brie: Yes she totally does, a little more realistic too maybe.
Community airs tonight at 8 p.m. on NBC