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Nosy questions with ... 'Community' star Joel McHale

September 17, 2009 |  2:33 pm


You know him as host of E!'s "The Soup," but get ready to know Joel McHale even better. In the new NBC comedy "Community," he plays Jeff, a hot-shot attorney enrolled at community college after his degree is revealed as phony and his law license is suspended. (In the show's world, he attends the rare community college where you can earn a BA.)

But a hard worker Jeff's not. "He is a liar and a cheat. And he is working on undoing these things, sort of," McHale said. "He's got issues." Which means even if Jeff sometimes reminds you of McHale on "The Soup," such comparisons are not, well, entirely appreciated.

"When I read the pilot script, I thought, 'What a fun part this would be to play. How fun would this be?' But then all of these people said, 'It’s perfect! You’re perfect for it!' " McHale said. "Jeff is a liar and a jerk. What am I supposed to say to that? 'Yeah, I guess so! Awesome!' It really makes me go, 'Wait, what do you mean?' "

McHale also stars opposite Matt Damon in Steven Soderbergh's "The Informant!" Now that his star is on the rise, he submits to our nosy questions:

What’s the best part about being a celebrity?

I don’t know yet.


Free shoes.

And the worst thing?

Feeling self-conscious when I’m on golf courses.

Who's the first person you called when you landed the hosting job on “The Soup”?

My wife. I said, “I got this job.” It wasn’t called “The Soup” then. It was called “The What The…? Awards.” And it was a pilot presentation. So when I called my wife, she was like, “Oh, all right. Fine. You going to be home tonight?” It wasn’t anything yet. It wasn’t like a network pilot. It was an experiment. I did call my wife when I got “Community.” She said, “Yeeeeah!”

What was your first big splurge?

I bought a Subaru WRX-STI. That was a couple of years ago. But I would like to buy a number of cars that I can’t afford yet. Like the Audi R8 or the Nissan GT-R, oh, I would love. (Leans into recorder) If they would give those to me, that would be great, so I don’t have to splurge.

Who do you most want to work with?

In my life? Ever? I would like to work with John Cleese, Meryl Streep, Daniel Day Lewis, Matt Damon again. You know, if he’s up for it. Johnny Depp, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro … I can keep going. I like Reese Witherspoon. Denzel Washington.

What do you like to sing in the shower?

Today it was Foo Fighters: “Pretender.”

What was your first job in Hollywood?

I got a small guest star in “Will & Grace.” I played Grace’s boyfriend Ian, who they called FrankenstIan, because I was so big. We went to “Seussical The Musical.” That was a great experience because I got to meet Sydney Pollack, who played Will’s dad. As far as odd jobs though? I worked at the Wilshire Country Club as a caddie and I worked at the Larchmont Wine & Spirits. I still go there all the time, I love it. 

"Community" premieres tonight at 9:30 p.m. on NBC.

-- Denise Martin

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Television Review: 'Community' on NBC 'The Soup' host Joel McHale does only a middling job attempting to channel Bill Murray as an attorney forced back to school when his academic credentials are found to be lacking.
Joel McHale stires 'The Soup'

Photo: Joel McHale. Credit: Anne Cusack / For the Times