Were you involved in the casting decisions? Of so, was there anyone that absolutely nailed it on their audition that you gave no delay to casting them?
Danny Pudi for certain. He was so different from the Abed in my head when he walked in the door, but he just leveled the room with his presence. He walked in dressed the way we ended up dressing Abed. He pulled out a tube of chapstick and applied it before every “take” of his auditions. And in the “chemistry read” with Joel McHale, when Abed introduces himself to Jeff, Danny held out his hand for shaking, but held it about six inches higher than you’re “supposed to” when you offer your hand for shaking. It was so subtle and so brilliant. We all knew it was Danny’s part. He walked in having decided it was his part. And there were a LOT OF GENIUSES up for that role.
How much are you allowed to reveal about your original vision for the future of the show?
I don’t know if this is good news or bad news but I tried not to think too far ahead too specifically. I knew that we had to generally get the audience used to the idea that Greendale, the campus itself, was NOT NECESSARILY INSTRUMENTAL to the long term viability of the show. That’s why we did episodes like Remedial Chaos and Annie’s Move and Abed as Batman, that’s why we moved Annie into Abed and Troy’s apartment and put Shirley and Pierce in business together…because the simple fact, to me, was that as much as we loved Greendale, we had to “complete” the story of Jeff Winger getting his four year degree. You can actually see one my “fourth season” ideas getting bumped up into the end of season three, because Jeff Winger has to decide, at the end of season three, that even though he’s endured Greendale for the express purpose of getting his old life back, in the end, he has to choose Greendale over his old life, because Greendale has made him a better person. The fact that it happened at the end of season three is because at the time of writing the script, I had a sneaking suspicion that either the show or its creator would not be back for season four.
Will you watch the new episodes?
I’m going to wait a few episodes, maybe the whole season, and see how other people react. If people love it, then I’ll be able to safely watch it with an open, friendly heart, because the whole point is whatever makes the audience happy. If they say it’s good, it’s good, and I can watch it and even say it’s good. But I’m not going to be part of any campaign to convince anyone – me or others – of anything, good or bad. I’ve received a lot of advice from a lot of creatives that in a situation like this, it’s best for everyone on all sides that I make a clean break and not look back. I’ll be one of the very last people you hear weighing in on New Community. It’s the most practical, healthy decision I can make for its audience. Here’s an important related question: DO I HOPE IT’S GOOD? The honest answer is yes.
What’s the storyline you never got to do on Community that you most regret?
The one that immediately leaps to mind is that I wanted Richard Ayoade (director of the Dinner with Andre episode) to return, this time on camera, as an oversea friend of Abed’s that he met in an Inspector Spacetime forum (or subreddit). I just couldn’t resist the meta-liciousness of seeing Ayoade and Pudi on screen together, and the non-meta, perfectly standard sitcom-liciousness of giving Abed a friend of whom Troy would have good reason to be jealous. I will say, though, that we explored many of the aspects of Troy and Abed’s relationship in the Civil War episode that we would’ve explored in an episode like that. Still, it would have been pretty fun.