On beloved, if ratings-challenged NBC sitcom Community, Danny Pudi is a never-ending fountain of pop-culture knowledge who can knock out pitch perfect impressions of everyone from Christian Bale's Batman to Jon Hamm's Don Draper. In real life, the 32-year-old Chicago-born actor is... well, nothing like that. But there's a few things Pudi and his character, Abed Nadir, have in common: they both worship at the altar of Indiana Jones and they both love being a part of Greendale Community College's most sarcastic study group. With Community's second season arriving on DVD today and the Season 3 premiere approaching on September 22, Pudi spoke with us exclusively about his favorite episodes from the show's sophomore year, his upcoming guest starring role on Chuck and a major turning point in Abed and Troy's loveable bromance.
TWoP: Looking back, which Season 2 episode are you most satisfied with? "Critical Film Studies" (a.k.a. the My Dinner With Andre episode) seems like a standout for Abed in particular.
Danny Pudi: I go back and forth. "Critical Film Studies" is an experience I'll treasure forever. I'm so thankful to have been able to play Andre Gregory's character -- or a version of him -- in an episode that was supposedly a Pulp Fiction-based episode. Doing that great monologue about Cougar Town and pooping my pants was an incredible acting experience. I don't know if I'll ever be able to get away with something like that again! There was so much going on in that episode I was really excited about. But it all came together sort of last minute and most of the time I was just worried about getting the episode right. So, for me, I think "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" was a bit more satisfying. The whole study group was there around the table and I had more moments to kind of sit back and watch everyone do what they do best. So in terms of which episode made me laugh the most, it was "Dungeons and Dragons." But that's the great thing about Season 2 -- there are so many great moments.
TWoP: It must be challenging to play a character like Abed that never betrays very much emotion. And even when he seems to -- as in "Critical Film Studies" -- he then turns around and reveals it was all an act all along.
Pudi: That is the tricky part. It's very delicate. I think I benefit from having really trusty people by my side, like [series creator] Dan Harmon and [regular directors] the Russo brothers or whoever the director is that week. I always feel that I'm in capable hands. But there are always moments that are very delicate and take a little bit of me sitting in a corner trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do. The biggest gift about playing a character like Abed is that complexity. The only way to play those kinds as scenes is to be as earnest as possible and that's just what I try to do. We also have a really good rhythm in the cast as well. We have this weird language now. Gillian [Jacobs] was talking the other day on set about how we almost speak in code.