The second season of Community is coming to a close. We know. We're heartbroken too. Well, to make you feel better, we've got an interview with the lovely Alison Brie who plays Annie on the show. Newsarama got a chance to participate in a conference call with the funny lady. She gave us a sneak peek at what we'll see in the two part paintball finale. We heard about her revealing costume, paintball in the Wild West, working with Josh Holloway and who might be hooking up.
Part one of the finale “A Fist Full of Paintballs” airs Thursday, May 5th at 8/7c and Part two, “For a Few Paintballs More” airs Thursday, May 12th.
Newsarama: How different is a western-themed paintball than a die-hard-themed paintball?
Alison Brie: It was a bit different. You know, the stunts were a bit different. First of all the costumes are extremely different, and I think also just because of the types of movies that we’re spoofing, our whole attitude and demeanor is much different. You know, when you watch a western they...things move a bit more slowly and there’s that swagger that you kind of take on. I...Annie, I, certainly was wearing a lot less clothing than I usually wear, but still sort of taking on that cowboy attitude, so that was really fun and interesting. A sort of different pace, you know? There’s a lot more, I think, moments of standstill where it’s just the eyes and the fingers tickling your gun and things like that, as opposed to, you know, action, action, action. Even though there is a lot of action as well and chase scenes as well. It’s sort of a western. It’s a bit of a Tarantino-type western nod as well, so I think you have some of that cool badassery, mixed in with the old style western stuff.
Nrama: I don’t remember a lot of scantily clad girls in the Clint Eastwood movies, what is that about?
Brie: Well, I think Annie starts out kind of dressed, but then she just loses her clothing and that’s where...I guess where the, maybe, the Tarantino part kicks in. I think she’s just - she’s a girl who has been through a lot. When we catch up with Annie, pretty much at the beginning of the episode, she’s already been through quite a bit and the clothes were just slowing her down. So she had to just, you know, let them go. Somehow I don’t think the male viewers are going to have a problem with the costume, if they’re hardcore western fans.
Nrama: The first paintball episode, ''Modern Warfare,'' is easily in the top five of favorite episodes for fans. So, do you know kind of what the thought process was here for Dan Harmon and everybody to go at this again, and were you nervous at all, because the expectations are so high?
Brie: First of all, I seldom get nervous when things are in the hand of Dan Harmon and our amazing writing team. I sort of just trust them implicitly with whatever they come up with. I think the main feeling with everyone was excitement because our paintball episode had been so epic and so well-received, and just kind of - I guess people consider it a turning point for our show or something like that, which sounds very epic. But, it just turned out, you know, more than anything it was just like paintball, I think, signifies us really just going balls to the wall, all out, kind of above and beyond, and that’s what we do again this time.
I mean, hearing that it was going to be a two-parter sort of made - already upped the ante for us, so we were like, “Oh, that’s so great. We’re going to have much more time to get in some of this...some better action and some interesting romance, and this and that.” And I think it’ll be really interesting for viewers to watch too, because the two parts are actually quite different.
In terms of the genre that they’re sort of spoofing or, you know, taking off...we’re just able to pack so much more in., and I think knowing what we had done before, coming from paintball before. I was especially excited about it because Annie got taken out pretty early when we did the original paintball episode, and this time I really have a lot more to do and we really just worked ourselves to the bone, I think, to really deliver something special again and kind of try to up it. So, I hope people enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.
Nrama: I have to ask of course about Josh Holloway and what was it like working with him? And I know his character’s very mysterious, but is there anything you can kind of tell us about him?
Brie: First of all, Josh Holloway is incredible to work with. He’s very easy on the eyes, he’s very nice, he’s just such a positive guy. And, you know, we always have such fun on set, but when you’re working these really long hours, it was even great to have this breath of fresh air kind of come into the cast and just be so excited about every scene that we were doing.
And also, he was a really good sport about talking about Lost with all of us because we’re all big Lost fans, and it only took us about 20 minutes before we just jumped right into like, “So, what were you drinking when you were drinking those Dharma beer cans?” And - that was a Danny Pudi question, and you know, “What was it like being in the forest with,” you know, I don’t know. We just were Lost nerds, so that was really fun. And he’s just a hot guy. He’s just hot. People - everybody on set, guys and girls, I think were all on their best behavior. Everybody just kind of would blush when he came into the room. It was very exciting. You could feel the collective excitement about Josh Holloway when he was there, and I...he and I...I was lucky enough to get to do some great scenes with him.He does play a bit of a mysterious character. I’m not sure what else I can say about his character exactly, but I got to do some action scenes with him. And also, I know they’ve teased some of our...you know, a bit of a flirtatious scene that we had together, and that was really fun to shoot because, you know, we kind of started doing the scene and as we were doing it, our writer was there and our director was there and they were sort of like, “We’ve got to milk this chemistry.” I guess it was going really well and they ended up adding some lines and adding some moments for Josh and I later in the episode or later in that scene, and that was exciting for me. I was like, “Yes, chemistry with Josh Holloway; nailed it.”
Nrama: Anthony Michael Hall’s on the episode too?
Brie: Yes, yes, he does make an appearance. You’ll see all of our regular sort of co-star people like Leonard and Fat Neil, and people like that sprinkled throughout the episode and in roles of varying sizes, and yes, Anthony Michael Hall came back as well. We really wanted to end with a bang, no pun intended, so it was really just a matter of kind of calling back everyone who had been on the show before; a lot of different people.
Trying to get a lot of different people involved that had been on the show before, which I love about our show, that we really have this community of students that all go there and take on roles big and small, and some of them quite interesting. And that they keep coming back because it really just makes up the fabric of this school and everybody that goes there.
Nrama: So, did you guys get to actually play paintball?
Brie: We always get to kind of do some practice shooting. We have a sharpshooter who comes in and does the stunt shooting...all of our reactions are totally real because it’s a little terrifying when you’ll rehearse it with nothing behind shot and you’re like, “Okay, you run to the right and you just keep running as fast as you can, and don’t stop because he’s just going to be shooting right behind you.”
So, we don’t do any of that shooting, which might be scary, but every - you know, every day when you’re shooting the scenes the art department is like, “Oh, wait, can we get a little more paint on the back of this wall or over here,” and we would all take turns with like the awesome sharpshooter machine paint gun shooting the walls. It was like our farewell to the school.
Since it was our final episode to shoot we really just trashed the school, but we didn’t play with each other, which I would be so scared to do. Paintball - I mean, because I’ve been shot with them on set. You know, we’ve - last year I got shot in the boob, and it hurt. It hurt. I had a bruise.
Everyone was like, “This is not going to hurt, don’t worry about it.” I had a little welt on my chest for - not for very long actually, only for like a day. I’m being a baby about it, but it did hurt a little bit. It scared - I think it would scare me to actually play the game.
Nrama: How much choreography or weapons training or whatever goes on...
Brie: ...as much as we can do. But one, everybody wants to be safe, even though we had a joke on set. I think that last week, which was safety third, because we were in a crunch for time and we were shooting so many things, but that’s actually not true. We do take time to do the rehearsals and work out things, especially because this was a western there was a lot of practice with gun play, sort of on the sidelines.
Joel (McHale), I can say is very good at kind of like that spinning his gun in his hand, and then putting it in the holster, so I would practice with him when we were in between takes. I had a stunt double on set who we had do some moves, one of which I thought it was nicely titled for the episode that we were doing.
One of our moves is the cowboy switch where she would like swing in and drop, and then I hide, and then I would just pop up from the ground, which apparently was a move that was used in a lot of westerns back in the day. Guys falling off horses...stunt guys falling off horses, and then actors sort of popping up from a hidden place on the ground.
In addition to that, just choreography with our sharpshooter, in terms of which way we’re running and how fast we’re running. And, you know, Josh and I, remember us sort of doing a whole scene where he’s kind of behind me and it became like a dance. We were almost - we were really doing it like choreography, like you know a Tarantella...a cha-cha, something. You know, some sort of thing, which was really fun for me. I didn’t mind that at all. But at the end of the day, it’s sort of like you run it, you walk it through slow a couple times, and then it’s like, go for it. You just hope that you’re hitting the mark and that you don’t get hit with paint on your way.
Nrama: What do you think Annie’s greatest strength is when it comes to playing paintball?
Brie: Wow. You know, determination. I think Annie has always been a very ambitious character and she just throws herself into whatever she’s doing. So, I think this year she may be...it’s like she’s practiced since she got taken out so early last year. She doesn’t like to lose, you know? She likes to be the best at whatever she does. So, this year she’s really determined to stick it out to the end and, you know, she doesn’t. Her downfall, I guess, is that she is sort of easily distracted by boys. But, she stay’s pretty on point most of the time and, yeah, just her determination, I think.
Nrama: You mentioned these interesting romances going on; is this something that will directly affect Annie?
Brie: Yeah. Yeah, I think there are some interesting romantic twists and turns in the paintball episodes. I, which I’m not going to reveal, but that’s tease I will give you, and they do involve Annie. When we read the script I was quite shocked at the direction that it went, but I think it turned out really good, so we’ll see. I have fingers crossed.
Nrama: There has been strain within the group this year, how do you think this paintball episode, does it tie anything up? There are points this year where it seemed like the group came close to breaking. Do you think the finale leaves them in a different place than where the season began?
Brie: Absolutely. The finale definitely addresses that idea about maybe certain people in the group sort of having trouble with other people, and those feuds really come to a head in a major way in these last two episodes. And at the same time, I think you also see other people in the group really connecting in ways that they hadn’t been throughout the season. So, there is a lot of stuff going on within the group. It’s not just all, you know, flashy paintball action stuff. There is really a lot of emotional stuff going on in these last couple episodes...there’s a bit of a cliffhanger at the end. I’m not sure people will know which way it’s going to go. I may not know which way it’s going to go.
Nrama: What do you think Annie's emotional journey has been this season?
Brie: Well, I think that Annie is just in a constant journey towards maturity, and figuring out who she is. And I don’t know that she’s really quite there yet, but I think...last season ended with that big kiss with Jeff. And I think a lot of this season she’s sort of still been struggling with her feelings for Jeff and kind of trying to get out from under that flame of love. That stuff sort of came to a head in the clip episode when it was revealed that Jeff and Britta had been sleeping together for a while, which would be sort of a blow to Annie. I think she’s just trying to find her thing, you know? And paintball is just another example of that, of her kind of trying to find something - her strength and pursuit it and see if that’s the way she wants to go...But, she doesn’t really quite figure it out.
Nrama: For a while this season, it seems like she’s been almost, in the back of her mind, convinced that it’s always going to be Jeff. And whenever it seems like it’s not going to be, it sort of breaks her inside a little bit.
Brie: Yeah, I think she definitely still has a thing for Jeff. I just think she’s young and impressionable, they shared a very romantic kiss, an exchange. I think that she looks up to him in a lot of ways and, you know, I think a lot of her journey is her trying to be her own leader, as opposed to always kind of everybody following Jeff and looking up to Jeff, because I would imagine that’s hard for her since she has a crush on him. Maybe she’ll always have a crush on him.
Nrama: What do you see kind of in terms of Annie’s character for next season, kind of where they leave her, where she’s going,?
Brie: That’s a tough question because I really don’t know. You know, our writers...I don’t even thing they’ve started writing the third season yet. So the truth is, I think Annie is like two steps forward and one step back with everything she does. You know, so even in the paintball episode it’s like she makes these strides, in terms of having moments of great strength and in terms of having like interesting romantic moments. And then by the end of the episode it’s sort of like, well, maybe she’s not that different than she was at the beginning of the episode. You know, what I mean, or even like halfway through the season. She makes these leaps ahead, and then she kind of settles back in, and that’s sort of, I think, the story of the group too. It’s like they’re all trying to grow individually and collectively. And they do sometimes, but they also kind of fall back into their ways.