Allison Brie of ‘Community’

The 'Community' and 'Mad Men' star talks role playing.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Allison Brie of 'Community'

Community presented a season two panel for the Television Critics Association. As the last panel of the day, the cast stayed up on stage for anyone who wanted to talk to them. Allison Brie never left her seat, holding court as man after man sat in the seat vacated by Joel McHale. I got both my Community and my Mad Men on.

CraveOnline: Does the idea of role playing appeal to the actor in you?

Allison Brie: I mean, obviously it does. You mean that kind, role playing games. I attempted to play Dungeons & Dragons when I was in high school. My boyfriend in high school was actually quite a nerd. No, I’m kidding. He was great but they played Dungeons and Dragons pretty regularly, he and his friends. So I remember trying to get into it once and the reluctance for me came from there was just so much talking. I wanted to get up and do more. So I don’t know, I don’t know. Role playing, role playing in the bed room, no, I’m kidding. Different kinds of role playing maybe.

CraveOnline: That’s what my readers want to know about.

Allison Brie: I would be open to it.

CraveOnline: I don’t know which question you just answered.

Allison Brie: I know, I know. I’ll just leave that open ended.

CraveOnline: How did you feel about the emotional ending to Troy’s birthday episode?

Allison Brie: I thought Jay Chandrasekhar who directed the episode did such a great job with it because that was one, when we were all discussing at the panel how some episodes get very dark, that was one that I felt while we were shooting it, it seemed like a very heavy and dark episode. Everyone sort of ended up depressed and I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. Then when I watched it, I actually thought that it was very sweet and endearing in a lot of ways. That scene with Annie and Troy in the hallway was so telling about these two people. It was a really cool moment in terms of learning about the characters because it was a scene that had been written that day. We got it maybe an hour before we did it and Dan Harmon came down to set and was like, “You know, this scene is really about these two connecting because you’ve got to remember they went to high school together. They’re fundamentally the same age. They’re kids. They’re the kids of the group and they’re sort of just coping with where they are in life like we all do when we’re that age. So I just think there were a lot of very truthful moments in that scene and I’m glad that we brought them to light.

CraveOnline: Did that illuminate anything surprising about what you thought of Annie?

Allison Brie: It’s always an interesting balance then to go back and do your homework mentally in terms of syncing up maybe your idea of the character and this new idea and maybe justifying some new things in the way that you’ve been playing her that will enable you to move forward in a way that’s still truthful, that married the truths of what you’ve been playing and this new reality.

CraveOnline: When you have to shoot Mad Men and Community the same day, are they at least logistically close together?

Allison Brie: It’s not terrible. Community’s at Paramount. We actually shoot at Paramount and Mad Men shoots at L.A. Center Studios which is near downtown. I live in South Pasadena so it’s sort of like beep, bop, boop. It’s actually really easy. I think I got the good end of the deal, proximity-wise. It sounds so silly but the truth is I’m constantly in awe of the fact that I get to do this for a living and those are the days when I think I’m the most excited about it. They’re both such great shows. It’s just fun. I’ve done both.

CraveOnline: I hear a little more Mad Men than Community. Is that closer to your voice and how you carry yourself?

Allison Brie: Perhaps. On Mad Men I play closer to my own age, or maybe I just do play my own age. So that’s something I’m definitely very aware of vocally, physically, all those things making the characters distinct in terms of their age and life experience, etc. Surprisingly given the time period that Mad Men is shot in, with Annie and Trudy, I don’t know which one I would say knows more than the other, Annie living in today’s world probably has exposure to things that wouldn’t really enter Trudy’s realm, especially being higher class and of new money and living in New York in a bubble.

Crave Online: Where do Community fans find you and recognize you?

Allison Brie: You mean in real life? Gosh, I guess when I was doing my Christmas shopping is when I notice it the most. I was just sort of out and about but I don’t think people recognize me too much. They’re still pretty tentative about it, like they’re not sure it’s me. I’ve even had, when I was doing my Christmas shopping, one woman who I know from Community, I was at Lather buying face wash or something, and she was like, “Oh, yes, yes, I know you. Of course I know you from Community.” And I was like, “Oh, great.” And then she said, “You know, I don’t know if you’ve ever been told this, I hope you’re not insulted, you really look like Trudy from Mad Men. Does anyone ever tell you you look like that girl?” I was like, “That’s me! I am her!” It’s either/or, and then I walk across the street to The Gap and someone’s like, “Trudy! Trudy!” I think I get more Trudy these days than Annie which is odd. It used to be the other way around.

CraveOnline: Do you have both complete season DVD sets next to each other?

Allison Brie: I have both DVD sets in backs somewhere in my house because I always get a bunch of DVD sets of Mad Men and then I think everyone’s going to want them. I don’t know what happens. I just hoard them.

CraveOnline: Did you stay in town for the holidays?

Allison Brie: I was in town, yes. My family’s in L.A. so I stayed here, yeah.

CraveOnline: I like that.

Allison Brie: I usually like to travel for New Year’s Eve but this year I couldn’t think of anywhere I was really excited to go so I stayed and threw my own little party. It was nice because it really felt like more of a break. It was nice to just take some time off and sort of enjoy staying in and the cold and the rain. It’s colder than I feel like it’s ever been in L.A. I kind of like that. It’s nice to have a reason to stay inside.

CraveOnline: What other cool episodes are coming up?

Allison Brie: We just shot a cool episode where Annie runs for school president I guess. It’s sort of reminiscent of the debate episode from last season. It becomes like a presidential race so that was a really fun one for me. I think, like Dan said, there’s one where the whole episode is away from Community in the hospital and that episode to me felt like they tricked us into a bottle episode.

CraveOnline: It’s a bottle somewhere else.

Allison Brie: Somewhere else, exactly. I was like, “Wait a minute. You’re not going to get this past us.” I don’t know, there’s a lot more exciting things. You’re definitely just going to continue to learn a lot more about these people is what I’ll say.

CraveOnline: Do you do well at public speaking?

Allison Brie: I don’t know, giving speeches?

CraveOnline: If you’re running for class president.

Allison Brie: Well, Annie does well at it, yes. I’ve never run for class president. Just my acting training. I don’t think I’m actually that great at public speaking. If I’ve got something written down, I think I could do okay.