Inside the Writers Room: How Chevy Chase ended up dressed as the Beastmaster on tonight's 'Community'
Ever since we saw that Chevy Chase’s Pierce comes to Annie’s Day of the Dead party dressed as the Beastmaster on tonight’s Community (NBC, 8 p.m. ET), we’ve been wondering how that awesomely bad costume choice was made. So, we phoned the writers of the episode to find out. According to Jon Pollack, who penned the half hour with Tim Hobert, “The joke was that we wanted Pierce to be doing something that he thought the kids would be into — but it was something that actually kids might have been into in the ’80s. The initial idea was Tron, but Disney owns Tron and is making a movie, so we couldn’t use Tron. Then we were like, ‘We need some really weird campy movie from the ’80s,’ and Andrew Guest, one of our writers, was like, Beastmaster. It was such a perfect melding of Pierce kinda being able to be a superhero, ’cause that’s what he is in his mind, and being something that was just probably never that cool.” Chase first saw the script at the table read. His reaction? “‘I’m not takin’ off my shirt!,’ and then he walked out,” Pollack says. “But if you were there close up, his legs looked fantastic.”
Other interesting tidbits about tonight’s costumes after the jump!
• Danny Pudi was told about a month ahead of time that his character, Abed, would be doing an impersonation of Batman. “He started doing it, and it was terrible, and we were like Ohmygod, this is gonna be a disaster. And then he found it, and he was amazing. He’s a genius,” Pollack says. (Watch the behind-the-scenes video below for proof.)
• Gillian Jacobs told creator Dan Harmon that she wanted her character, Britta, to be a squirrel. “Usually when an actor has an idea, it’s a horrible thing that you want to run away from, ’cause they’re actors,” Harmon says. “But it’s Halloween, and you’re learning about the characters because they’re picking their costumes. What does that say about them? That’s one time [you want to listen to an actor]. The more absurd it is the better. As much as possible on this show, just because we’re lazy, we like the personalities of the performers to be mirrored by the characters. Britta is very much like Gillian, so for Gillian to say, ‘I want to be a squirrel,” and just sort of insist upon it, I was like, ‘Well, I don’t really get it, but we don’t have any better ideas.’ And then when I saw her on the set holding a giant acorn and arguing with this guy in a cowboy outfit [to name the actor would be a spoiler, but, he’s tall], I was like, Oh, I get it. Really, the costume is just pajamas and the acorn is just a teddy bear, and she’s just yelling at a crappy dad. She was profoundly adorable in that costume in a way that actually added dimension to the character.”
• What does actress Yvette Nicole Brown dressing as Harry Potter say about her character, Shirley? “You caught us. That was just a gag,” Harmon says. “There’s nothing profound there, that was just a hilarious racist joke that we fell in love with and Yvette hated it. But over time, she started loving it more than anybody.”
• Donald Glover came up with the idea for his character, Troy, to dress as Delirious-era Eddie Murphy. It was around the time this episode was filmed that NBC decided it wanted 30-second tags for the end of each episode — and Harmon discovered Glover’s and Pudi’s chemistry. “Part of the reason we use those guys for those tags is because of how much fun this one scene was,” Harmon says. “They improvised a bunch of stuff between Eddie Murphy and Batman for a while.”
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Photo credit: Chris Haston/NBC