Alison Brie preps us for 'Community' marathon on Thursday
If you watch "Mad Men," Alison Brie probably caught your eye some time ago as Trudy Campbell, the dutiful and proper wife of ad man Pete Campbell. She dresses to the nines and knows how to get her way, even though she is a bit gullible when it comes to her husband. (The new season begins July 25 at 10 p.m.)
Last season, Brie broke out of her girdle to become a scene-stealer on NBC's single-camera comedy "Community," the show about community-college students in Colorado that stars Joel McHale, also of "The Soup." In it, she plays Annie Edison, a neurotic perfectionist and former Adderall addict who falls in love quicker than you can say Adderall addict.
Soon, Brie will play a jealous personal assistant in the fourth "Scream" movie, joining "Scream" veterans Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox-Arquette.
The 26-year-old actress is as busy as it gets, which she loves because, as she playfully says, "running from one job to the next makes me feel very important."
"Community," her regular gig, returns in the fall on Thursday nights for its second season, and who knows whom Annie will fall in love with then? Brie doesn't know because production begins on July 26, so don't bother asking her if Annie and Jeff are now Jannie.
"I think Annie has a crush on having crushes," Brie said in a recent telephone interview. "It seemed there was always a new guy that she'd be gung-ho about and get really into. Since she's just out of high school, that can take on many forms. And I can relate a lot to it. Even though ... I wasn't as naive or nerdy -- I'd like to think -- I still think there was a process of discovering myself and trying some things out. She is very brave at the end of the day, and she has her goals that stay the same, and I connect with a lot of that."
Popular with TV critics, "Community" was just hitting its ratings stride when its freshman season ended. So NBC is airing a marathon of six of the show's best episodes on Thursday night, hoping to nab new interest. The rest of the cast includes: Chevy Chase as Pierce, Danny Pudi as Abed, Gillian Jacobs as Britta, Ken Jeong as Señor Chang, Donald Glover as Troy, and Yvette Nicole Brown as Shirley.
We walked down memory lane with Brie to prepare for the marathon. (And, no, she gave up nothing on the new season of "Mad Men," respecting that show's cone of silence).
"I feel like there were a lot of people that started to hear about 'Community' toward the end of the season or since we've been out of production," Brie said. "The little marathon will give people a chance to see the episodes, and they chose some really great ones."
"We had shot the finale and wrapped and then got an additional three episodes. so the writers got very creative. This one was played very fast and loose. We were still getting pages as we filmed. I still get messages from "Annie’s Boobs" on Twitter. At the end of the week, we were, like, these chicken fingers are pretty tasty. But then it was really gross. I don’t think we wanted to eat chicken fingers for a long time."
"Romantic Expressionism" airs at 8:30 p.m.
"When we first got the script, I remember being surprised at the Annie and Vaughn thing, moreso because at the end of the episode, they stayed together. I hadn’t done a lot of scenes with Eric, and he was such a good actor, and I could see the charm of why Annie would like a character like him. He’s so involved with everything and life."
"Modern Warfare" airs at 9 p.m.
"Our paintball episode! It's one of my favorites. Even though Annie got taken out a little early, it was exciting to watch it and see the stuff I wasn’t around to see. I do remember squatting in a trash can for hours. In our study room, there’s still green paint on the edges of things. All the guys on set were so revved up! The girls were like, 'This is cool.' And the guys were living their ultimate fantasy. It was really fun. For me, there was a lot more than waiting around. You didn’t want to be on set for fear of getting totally drenched in paint. People should not underestimate the level of difficulty of squatting in a box for four hours — a jack-in-the-box move. It was fun!"
"Physical Education" airs at 9:30 p.m.
"Oh, Joel’s naked episode. And, yes, we were there all day. We said, 'We’ll just stay to support Joel.' And Joel was doing so many push-ups to prepare for that episode. It was really exciting. Joel was such a good sport. He didn’t get totally naked. He had these small, little orange underwear on that he had in the episode. And then he would pull those down and have even smaller flesh-colored underwear on and they didn’t really have to coach anyone’s reactions. And he’s got nothing to be ashamed of. Joel’s got a great body and the viewers have spoken."
Brie recalls it as "epic" because, among other things, it includes Anthony Michael Hall as a bully.
"The best part for me was our fight scene in the winter wonderland area that was covered with fake snow. The show had hired professional stunt people to play the other bullies in Anthony's crew, but we didn't have any time to rehearse actual fight choreography with them. By the time we got to that part of the scene, we were losing daylight and had to get it all done so we quickly paired ourselves up with stunt people and kinda discussed our first move, like how we'd get into the winter wonderland area, but that was it. Adam [Davidson] yelled, "Action!" and it was basically just a free-for-all with us fake-kicking and fake-punching these stunt people and throwing ourselves to the ground and hitting them with plastic penguins, basically improv fighting. Adam would pop in and yell things like "Shoot him with the snow blower!" and we all just went with it. At the end, we were all sheet white, covered with the fake snow from head to toe. Some of us may have had real bruises."
Brie said this was a "pivotal" episode for Annie because it was the first time viewers discovered the chemistry between Annie and Jeff, which led to the Season Finale Kiss.
"The fan feedback was so incredible that it kind of set my character on a different trajectory, heading toward the finale with the big kiss between Annie and Jeff. The scene that took a long time was Jeff and Annie in the study room, where there was sexual tension. It’s such a fun thing. When you see these things in an episode, it looks like it’s happening so naturally. No, this was hours of production — where you’re being told, 'Get your cleavage a little bit closer to Joel’s shoulder. Put your boobs on his shoulder but not too close to his face. That’s your mark.' "
-- Maria Elena Fernandez
Photos, from top: Alison Brie and Joel McHale in "Community." Credit: Sony Pictures Television. From left, McHale, Donald Glover, Gillian Jacobs, Brie and Yvette Nicole Brown. Credit: Chris Haston / Sony Pictures Television. Eric Christian Olsen and Brie. Credit: Sony Pictures Television. Brie in paintball gear. Credit: Sony Pictures Television. Danny Pudi, Brie and Donald Glover. Credit: Chris Haston / Sony Pictures Television. McHale and Brie. Credit: Trae Patton/Sony Pictures Television