The Telefile
Alison Brie and Danny Pudi Stay <i>Community</i>-Minded

It hasn't been the smoothest start for Community this season, but Annie and Abed are here to tell fans to keep the faith. Alison Brie and Danny Pudi hopped on the horn for a conference call with reporters the other day to discuss the Dan Harmon-free Year 4, tease upcoming episodes ("I'm really excited for our Christmas episode, which is Hitchcock-inspired, and the finale, which is really just made for the fans," says Brie) and reminisce about their favorite Greendale memories.

On Getting Along Without Dan Harmon
Alison Brie: It's a tough thing to learn that your showrunner is not coming back to the show, especially when he's 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 how much they loved the show and wanted to keep it the same and some of our writers were still the same and so they have. We all were certainly very vocal this season to speak about what our characters would or wouldn't do and the way things might go on the show, so we were all sort of working together to keep the show intact.
Danny Pudi: Community itself is a very specific kind of thing for all of us, so I think there was a lot of fear that the show isn't going to, I guess, maintain its level. One thing that we wanted to make sure comes across this year is our genuine love for the show and I think you'll see that. There is an extra level of responsibility we have to us as actors to really make sure that we're still staying true to who these people are and what the world around Greendale is.

On That Classic Season 3 Dreamatorium Episode
Brie: We both love that episode. Obviously, Troy and Abed are sort of a unit and you don't really get to see other people going into their world. So by having Annie go in, you got to let the whole audience go in there and really take this journey into Abed's mind, which is a place we're never really privy to. I think Annie and Abed have distinct differences in their characters, but also have similarities in their lack of being able to relate to other people. Annie has never really had a lot of friends and Abed has never had this many friends at one time. So in certain ways they're similar sort of outcasts and it was fun to watch them get to know each other.
Pudi: One of the things that's really special about that episode, which people don't know about, is that we didn't have a working script for the entire week. Dan Harmon would get us pages on the day as we went. So for us, it was really exciting because it was largely Alison, I and our director Tristram Shapeero in the Dreamatorium piecing it all together. I also like how there's this kind of a language that's happened between Annie and Abed since that episode and the timeline episode earlier in Season 3, where I was like "You should move in here" [to Troy and Abed's apartment] and then she moves in. And in the premiere this year, Abed said, "You should take forensics" and Annie takes forensics. I think there's something kind of nice that we understand each other and we see each other thriving and I think a lot of that is because of the Dreamatorium. We know that we both have this very specific worldview.

Brie on Annie's Ever-Evolving Relationship with Jeff
This season is sort of a fun season for Jeff and Annie fans, because as usual their relationship doesn't really progress. 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 or if that's even as primary a focus on Jeff's radar as it probably is on Annie's. So I think this season is sort of like them just acknowledging and kind of moving past it in some ways to being good friends. But at the same time, there are some ways -- without them actually getting really close -- there will be some interesting things for fans later this season just between Joel and I. I'm not trying to tease too much, but things like an alternate reality.

Pudi on How Community May One Day Become Arrested Development
Arrested Development is my favorite comedy over the last ten to 15 years. I also came around to it late -- I watched it on DVD actually -- and I was blown away by it. I think that is part of the reason why I was able to also buy into that show and its nature is because I was able to watch it in bunches. It's a word-of-mouth show and I was able to go in being like, "I'm going to give this show a full chance. I'm going to watch all three seasons right now." And immediately I had a common language with a bunch of people who watch Arrested. I can say, "Annyong" and immediately everyone would laugh -- that kind of thing. And I think there is an amount of that within Community as well, where people will start watching the show and saying, "Pop, Pop" to each other ten years from now and it will be a nice little secret language.

On How Their Characters Might Change This Season
Pudi: Within the world of Abed you see that right away in the Season 4 premiere that he's going to his happy place [a lot], especially every time anyone mentions that it's our senior year, which is scary. We've explored change with him a few different times already. In the My Dinner with Andre episode, you know, Abed says that changing really isn't his jam. He's more of a fast-blinking stoic type. And the thing about senior year at Greendale is that whether or not we change as individuals as our circumstances change and our environments change. Honestly, when I look at the world around me and think of most of my friends and the people I know, at their core, they're essentially the same people. You do grow, but in many ways the things that grow is literally just the fact that you're a little bit older now and you have to have a job, you have kids and you're no longer living at home. Your responsibilities in the world around you changes and it's your ability to adapt to that that I think is interesting and I think that's what we explore in Season 4.
Brie: Like all the characters, Annie has always been changing, because they started out as singular beings and now they're sort of a unit and just in terms of gaining friends like that and growing up a little, she's learning so much about herself through her interactions with these other people. I always think of Annie as being two steps forward and one step back in all of her growth. She started out so studious and just seemed very driven and she's still driven, but we've seen some detours. She gets hung up on guys, she gets hung up on the friend group and trying to keep the study group together because she's never had friends like this before and she's never had guys interested in her before. This year she's sort of returning to her studious roots and she's discovered a new major, forensics, that she's now interested in and feeling really passionate about again. So we sort of see her returning to being that figure for the group, to being kind of driven and to being the voice of reason for the group and that's how she changes this year.

On Their Favorite Annie and Abed Moments From Community's Past
Brie: I love the episode from Season 2 with Troy's 21st birthday where all of the characters go to the bar. It was a really dark episode for the show at that point. And just for my character specifically, there was a scene at the end of that episode that was just with me and Donald and these two characters, Annie and Troy, who were in high school together and are the same age and sort of connecting in that sense of like, "I don't know what I'm doing, I don't know where I'm going," which I think is a feeling everyone feels at different points in their life. It was such an amazingly honest scene in an episode that was so rich with character development on a comedy show.
Pudi: I remember looking at multiple episodes and thinking, "Okay, I did not think the show was going to go this way and now we're going in this way and that's exciting." The very first time I remember thinking that was in the first Halloween episode in Season 1. That was the first time where I could really see the potential of us going into different worlds and that creatively was super exciting, especially because Abed got to play Batman, knowing full well I'll probably never play Batman. It was a really nice treat.

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