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Gillian Jacobs and Jim Rash – Community Theater with a Surreal Bent


COMMUNITY -- "Regional Holiday Music" Episode 311 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jim Rash as Dean Pelton, Gillian Jacobs as Britta -- Photo by: Jordin Althaus/NBC

COMMUNITY — “Regional Holiday Music” Episode 311 — Pictured: (l-r) Jim Rash as Dean Pelton, Gillian Jacobs as Britta — Photo by: Jordin Althaus/NBC


Gillian Jacobs and Jim Rash

Community Theater with a Surreal Bent

by Jay S. Jacobs

They call Community “the little show that could,” so it comes as little surprise that the cult-favorite series was renewed by NBC for at least 13 episodes in a fourth season.

The wonderfully surreal situation comedy – which has made something of a specialty of “theme” episodes which parody things such as Law & Order, 80s video games, Dungeons and Dragons and adventure films – has been a tough contender on NBC’s must-see Thursdays, sparking fan adoration which sadly outranks the show’s Nielsen ratings.

Starring Talk Soup star Joel McHale as a hipster former lawyer forced to return to college, Community has one of the quirkiest ensembles on TV: Chevy Chase as crotchety old man Pierce, Gillian Jacobs as neurotic perfectionist Britta, Donald Glover and Danny Pudi as nerdy man-boys Troy and Abed, Alison Brie as perky trainwreck Annie, Yvonne Nicole Brown as aging born-again student Shirley, Ken Jeong as power-mad security chief Chang and Jim Rash as the sexually ambiguous Dean Pelton.

Beyond his work on the show, Rash recently won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for co-writing the George Clooney film The Descendents.

We recently joined in a conference call with several websites to speak with Jacobs and Rash about the season finale, the future of Community, Rash’s Oscar win and Jacobs’ early typecasting as strippers, drug addicts and runaways.


COMMUNITY -- Season:3 -- Pictured: Jim Rash as Dean Pelton -- Photo by: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

COMMUNITY — Season:3 — Pictured: Jim Rash as Dean Pelton — Photo by: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC


Congratulations to Jim on your Oscar.

Gillian Jacobs: Yeah!

Jim Rash: Oh, thank you very much. Yeah.

Is there any costume though that we won’t ever see the Dean showing up in?

Jim Rash: Never? I don’t know if there’s a never, because I’ve already worn flesh-colored panties, so unless they remove those flesh-colored panties that would probably be the only costume left. (Jim & Gillian laugh)  I don’t think the Dean would ever have any editing when it came to what he wanted to or what I as an actor was asked to wear.

Gillian Jacobs: It’s his art.

Jim Rash: I don’t draw lines.


COMMUNITY -- "Origins of Vampire Mythology" Episode 315 -- Pictured: Gillian Jacobs as Britta -- Photo by: Michael Desmond/NBC

COMMUNITY — “Origins of Vampire Mythology” Episode 315 — Pictured: Gillian Jacobs as Britta — Photo by: Michael Desmond/NBC


Gillian, for next season is there an interest in having Britta maybe mature a bit, or do you see her as is always in her head…  I don’t know exactly how to describe her. I mean she’s…

Gillian Jacobs: The worst?  Well, let’s see. I would say even though everyone makes fun of her she did make some valid points in her therapy sessions. I think she actually wasn’t too far off with some of Jeff Winger’s daddy issues, and she was maybe accidentally able to help some people. I think you’re going to see a little bit more of that in Thursday night’s episode. But, I don’t think that we ever want these characters to figure it all out, because then it would be a very boring show. So, I hope she continues to make a lot of mistakes.

Jim Rash: Yeah, if I may, I think one of the things that’s great about what they’ve been doing with Britta and Gillian’s performance of it is all these characters sort of evolve and sort of started one way. It’s not like they completely changed, but they’re true selves start to shine through. I think Britta had up a wall and she was supposed to be the smartest person in the room, or at least she thought herself that way. I thought what’s so great is that, you know the small things that came out of breaking that down and seeing this insecurity inside, which I think is played very well by Gillian?

Gillian Jacobs: Thank you, Jim.

Jim Rash: You’re welcome.

I love that answer.

Gillian Jacobs: It’s better than mine. I’m adopting that. Can I get a transcript of this call so I can use Jim’s answer verbatim in this future, please? (they laugh)

Jim, is there a chance maybe you could convince Clooney to co-star in Community?

Jim Rash: That’s going to be such an easy phone call. I imagine he can sense as I dial that I’m going to ask him that, and I’m sure he’ll pick up instantly. And I’m not surprised if the whole Ocean’s 11 gang has to be on it. (they laugh) And I’m not surprised if I’m not in Italy right after we wrap. All those things are possible.


COMIC-CON -- Pictured: (L-R Front Row) Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Gillian Jacobs, Yvette Nicole Brown, Joel McHale, Jim Rash, Chevy Chase -- Photo by: Phil McCarten/NBC

COMIC-CON — Pictured: (L-R Front Row) Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Gillian Jacobs, Yvette Nicole Brown, Joel McHale, Jim Rash, Chevy Chase — Photo by: Phil McCarten/NBC


There’s a seat with your name engraved in it in Lake Como.

Jim Rash: Yes. Oh, yes, George.

Gillian Jacobs: He’s so over it. It’s so tiresome, Italy, isn’t it?

Jim Rash: Yes. Our friendship is so tiring.

Gillian, how does it feel to kind of be treading on Pierce ground, as far as being considered the worst out of the group?

Gillian Jacobs: Well, every group needs the worst, and so I’m happy to provide that service. (laughs) I think that it’s like that family dynamic where everybody picks on one member of the family, but at the end of the day they’re essential and everybody does love them deep down. I think Britta is a loud mouth a lot of the times, so she draws attention to herself. But, she’s very stubborn and she has a surprisingly thick skin, so she may get hurt, but she doesn’t really seem to be deterred by their scorn. I kind of admire that about her. I’m far more sensitive. She’s got a thick skin.

Awesome. And for Jim, it seems like Chang has kind of taken over Greendale…

Jim Rash: Yes.

…and since you’re always trying to get in with the group, is this your chance to finally like get on Jeff’s good side? Is he going to come rescue you and save the school?

Jim Rash: Well, you’ll definitely see on Thursday. Obviously the result of the Dean making another horrible decision to sign over his security detail to Chang, so he has only himself to blame for the chaos that ensued. I do think this is – as you will see this Thursday – it’s sort of nice to see as the Dean gets involved with the study group as we try to reclaim Greendale. At least this is the closest he has, or least hoped to become one of the group, but you’ll just have to wait and see.


COMMUNITY -- "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts" Episode 312 -- Pictured: (l-r) Gillian Jacobs as Britta, Charles Walker as Minister, Joel McHale as Jeff -- Photo by: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

COMMUNITY — “Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts” Episode 312 — Pictured: (l-r) Gillian Jacobs as Britta, Charles Walker as Minister, Joel McHale as Jeff — Photo by: Lewis Jacobs/NBC


Congrats on the announcement of season four. How are you guys feeling about the schedule and moving to Fridays?

Jim Rash: Well, first and foremost we have to celebrate what has been a long, hopeful journey to get to a season four, so I think with the help of the fans we’ll start there and be grateful for the fact that we get to say that sentence, “We’re having a season four.” Then, there’s always something exciting about some small change. Obviously, we’ve survived little changes and moves and our fans seem to follow us, so that’s how we’re going to [proceed]. Just hope they find us again and I’m sure they will. They’re a very tenacious group.

Gillian Jacobs: Yes, I think that we have to be so grateful for all the hard work that they did to make sure that we came back from hiatus and got this fourth season. We’re just excited to get to tell 13 more stories and hopefully more down in the future. We’re the little show that could. You can’t ever really count us out, so God only knows what will happen.

Jim, when it comes to the finale do you think there’s a certain part of the Dean that’s going to be very happy in the sense that this is really the first time the Greendale Six will really need him when he’s constantly the one trying to get all over them?

Jim Rash: Well, yes. Yes, get all over them, absolutely.

Gillian Jacobs: I enjoy your word choice.

Jim Rash: Yes, he definitely wants to get all over them. Some maybe not as much as others…

Gillian Jacobs: Not Britta.

Jim Rash: … Yes, maybe not Britta. He still hates the fact that she was in that Christmas show. (they laugh) It’s funny, the theme of the allure of this study group and obviously it was played upon in last week’s episode, a clip show, and them sort of coming to realize that. What really is a funny device, in the sense that I, as the Dean, always seem to tell them only about the huge things happening at this school. Partly to set up a story…

Gillian Jacobs: Fires.

Jim Rash: Exactly, and now fires, it just played on that idea. I think that what will happen or what you will see in the finale is sort of the closest that Dean has come to be included in a study group plan to win back their school. Of course, he was the reason that they have to, (laughs) but hopefully they won’t remember that.


COMMUNITY -- "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux" Episode 308 -- Pictured: (l-r) Gillian Jacobs as Britta, Donald Glover as Troy -- Photo by: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

COMMUNITY — “Documentary Filmmaking: Redux” Episode 308 — Pictured: (l-r) Gillian Jacobs as Britta, Donald Glover as Troy — Photo by: Lewis Jacobs/NBC


Gillian, what has it been like this whole second half of the season working with Donald Glover and doing the Troy/Britta stuff that’s going on?

Gillian Jacobs: I love it. We have the sweetest hugs on TV. We’ve really cornered the market on longing looks and really sweet hugs. (laughs) He’s obviously an incredible performer and we’ve so enjoyed getting to have these scenes together. There’s not a bad… what is it, bad apple? Yes, that’s the phrase. There’s not a bad apple in this group, so I’m really lucky to get to work with this cast and it’s been really fun to get to have all these scenes with Donald.

Jim Rash: Yes, and often between takes they would be rehearsing their hugs.

Gillian Jacobs: Oh, yes. Those – I mean, come on.

Jim Rash: More often than not. (laughs)

Gillian Jacobs: Extensive rehearsal. (laughs, too)

Looking forward to season four is there anything you’d like to see both Dean and Britta do more of?

Jim Rash: Gillian, do you want to start?

Gillian Jacobs: Yes, sure. I think Britta should probably sing some more. That’s really where the gold is. (they laugh) Let’s see, maybe I’d like to meet Britta’s family. I think that would probably be pretty fun and give some more insight into how Britta ended up the way she is. I always think it’s fun when we get to see glimpses of the characters’ families and we got to meet Pierce’s dad this season, and we’ve met Chang’s brother. I’d really love to meet Britta’s family.