When the cast of "Community" tweets quotes and anecdotes asking "Pierce or Chevy?," it's not always easy to tell. Just like his "Community" alter ego, Pierce Hawthorne, star Chevy Chase doesn't always know how or when to edit himself.
On the heels of Deadline's report that Chase is in a feud with "Community" creator Dan Harmon -- and the airing of a profanity-laden voicemail Chase left Harmon (warning: very NSFW) after Harmon reportedly called Chase out for storming off the set and then gave him an unfiltered roast at the show's Season 3 wrap party -- here's some more insight into Chase's attitude about the fan-favorite show.
The last time I was on set, right before they wrapped production for Season 3, Chase was even more fired up than usual, going as far as saying, "I have creative issues with this show. I always have," before comparing elements of the show to "being relegated to hell and watching 'Howdy Doody' for the rest of your life." He then added: "I can't stand sitcoms," and declared, "I probably won't be around that much longer, frankly."
With the NBC sitcom still waiting to hear about its fate, and a possible Season 4 pickup that would take it into syndication, Chase's comments are oddly timed and certainly not indicative of how the rest of the "Community" cast and crew feels.
But they could also be the final straw with fans who've put up with Pierce's nonsense, bigotry and flat-out obnoxious behavior for so long because it was a small price to pay for more of the "Community" characters we love. Yes, his anti-TV and anti-"Community" statements might just make every "Community" fan anti-Pierce. And Chevy Chase seems OK with that.
What are you all shooting today? We hear it's another fun flashback episode.
I'm just doing the lines as best I can, doing whatever the director tells me. Apparently my flashback is so odd ... I can't really get a hold of it. On the other hand, if you look at the other actors in the same scene, I don't think they can get a hold of it either.
Do you have more fun playing Pierce the asshole or Pierce the bumbling old guy?
I've never really come to grips with it ... I don't think that anybody has. [Laughs.] Viewers, the writers, me. I think, just by being older, I'm supposed to be more of a curmudgeon.
Would you hang out with Pierce?
No. No! [Laughs.] Why would I? Part of the challenge of being in this is to not be anything like myself. No ... I'm funny. Pierce isn't funny.
But you know guys like Pierce, don't you?
No, I don't. Not that still have their teeth. No. I don't know guys like anybody in this sitcom, frankly. I think that the two white girls -- the two pretty, young girls, Alison [Brie] and Gillian [Jacobs] -- they're probably more like people that we can all understand. There are narcissistic elements to Joel [McHale]'s character, which come easily to him. [Laughs.] I don't think that there's anything that's unrealistic, but do I really know anybody like this? No.
I have creative issues with this show. I always have. With my character, with how far you can take [Joel McHale's] character ... just to give him a long speech about the world at the end of every episode is so reminiscent. It's like being relegated to hell and watching "Howdy Doody" for the rest of your life. It's not particularly necessary, but that's the way they do these things. I think it belies the very pretenses that his character, Jeff, has, that he's giving these talks. They're supposed to, in some way, be a little lesson to people who watch sitcoms ... to that degree, I can't stand sitcoms.
But we all love this show because it's not the typical sitcom.
I'm not really gonna buck you all up a lot and say that this is the one, the one that tells it innovatively. It is what it is. I would like to see it go further. I think, if you know me and my humor over the years, you know that this is certainly not my kind of thing. I probably won't be around that much longer, frankly.
They can go farther, and maybe they will. It basically started off as what a community college might consist of. You might have a guy in his 60s and kids in their 20s -- that's the fact, and what can you do with them? There are many times when this doesn't seem like a community college at all. Particularly this year ... I think we've gone way south. And way north. It doesn't even appear to have anything to do with college. It's got its own secrets that reside in the creator of the show [Dan Harmon]. What does it mean, really? I think you could just as well take these people and put them in a bar every week, and have nothing to do with academics or anything else, and we'd still have the same basic interactions. The community college thing sort of went down the drain this year.
How would you change things, creatively?
I come from a much freer kind of performance thing, where I rely on my own improv and my own sense of humor. I would like to see every actor mine that vein and get in there and just go. And if they're funny, you'll see it -- if they're not, they shouldn't be doing it. I'm saying that I believe that all of these kids that I'm working with have the ability to go somewhere. I've seen it. I've not seen it a lot on this show.
I would say Alison stands out as a comedienne that nobody has seen yet. She's also just a great actress. I've given her my advice, which is, "Don't stay in television doing sitcoms. You're very pretty, you're young and I think that film is where you should be and that you could become a big movie star." Her response was, "I just did two movies." I didn't even know about it [laughs], but I was glad to hear that. I'm only talking as like a father figure. But I think that everybody at this table would agree that she seems to be more of an attraction you'd want to see in film, rather than just steadily in sitcoms until she just gets older and older.
What's wrong with sitcoms? As fans, we like getting to spend time with these characters and actors every week.
If what you do in life is perform to open up eyes and minds, to make people laugh, then it better damn well be new! It shouldn't be just a repetitious 'Hey, I'm still here!' For what purpose? You're getting all this exposure -- I've seen too much exposure of too many people who just stink. That's not what it's about. I don't think I'll be back on this show again, frankly, between you and me. Depends on what happens. We'll see. I think I've already given away about as much as I can as this character. This is the only time I've ever had to act every week in the same clothes and as the same character, and I don't find it particularly enlightening. It's not teaching anybody anything. If I can sneak in and get a laugh here or there, I'll do it, but for the most part, I'm sticking to the script, because that's what I've been asked to do.
OK, so if Pierce is gonna go, how do you think he should be killed off?
I have no idea what'll happen to Pierce. I may well be back next year as a teacher, or as a dean, or as a bum. I don't know. I have no idea what's going to happen to him, but if he were to die, I could think of many funny ways. One would be right in the middle of one of these [interviews].
Well it would've been easy to write Pierce out of the show at the end of last season when he quit the study group and stormed off ...
[Last season], no one had any idea whether I would or wouldn't come back, but who in God's name in this country would care?
We would! We. Are. Fans!
At that point, Chase tried to recover a bit, ending the chat on a more sentimental note. Chase admitted that the show's cast -- almost all of whom he'd called out individually for their talents -- has become like family to him. "That's why I'm here, because of them," he said. "They are my friends. They have become my family. I'm out here in this incredibly intellectual land of L.A., and thank God at least I have this family. I'm a New Yorker, and I live in the country. What this is is business. Thank God I have the right friends."
Although we're guessing after listening to that harsh voicemail that he's not counting Harmon in his "family."
What do you think, "Community" fans: Would you be sad or relieved to see Chevy Chase/Pierce Hawthorne go?
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