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Alison Brie On Shifting Between 'Mad Men' And 'Community'

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 18th 2010 2:02PM
Alison Brie at the NBC all-star Party at the Winter 2010 TCAsUsually during a press tour all-star party, there's one or two unexpectedly popular stars who just seem to attract throngs and throngs of reporters for the entire night. A couple of years ago, it was George Takei right after he started on 'Heroes.' This year, the NBC star attracting the attention at their all-star party in Pasadena last month was Alison Brie.

Why? Well, besides being cute and chatty, having significant supporting roles in two critically-acclaimed shows probably helped. Brie not only plays the uptight and naïve Annie on the comedy 'Community,' but she also plays Trudy, the hard-driving wife of Pete Campbell (played by Vincent Kartheiser) on 'Mad Men.'

I managed to wait out the crowds and get a few solo minutes with Brie. We talked about how she shifts between the high comedy of 'Community' and the intense drama of 'Men,' and if her presence in 'Men's' finale means she'll be back for season four.

You're one popular lady today.
Thank you...I guess. (laughs)

I think it's two little shows that you're on that might be the reason...
Might be these two... these obscure shows...

That nobody's ever heard of...
Yeah, yeah, I don't know.

The funny thing is, I did not even connect you to Trudy (on 'Mad Men') at all.
Thank you. I take that as a very great compliment to my work, to the testament of the difference in my characters.

Because when I read "Alison Brie from 'Community' plays Trudy on 'Mad Men,'" I'm like, 'She does?' What do you think makes you hide in the role of Trudy? Is it just the acting or is it the wigs and the outfits?

It's both, it's both. You know, the characters are separated by time period, age difference, life experience, so that alone... You're right, I mean, even just the wardrobe alone I think... I think look about five years older on the show.

How are the environments on the sets of the two shows?
It's very different. I think because of the nature of the shows, one is a hard-hitting drama and the other is a comedy... And also, so yeah, that, and they're so different... On 'Mad Men,' to me, in my experience, it's just very focused. We all have such a great respect for the work and the writing and everything, and for each other and everybody that's working on the show that there is this kind of quiet intensity on set. And everybody's so nice and good-hearted, but it's just that the material is so heavy.

I would imagine there's a little tension-breaking and joking around though?
Oh, of course. And you know, I can speak for myself, because I only shoot with Vincent most of the time, Vincent Kartheiser who plays my husband, and we have a great time. And he's hilarious. And we certainly can laugh and joke. But overall, you know, we want to get it right. Usually Vincent and I have rehearsed beforehand and we're going in to get these minimal... You know, the changes that Matt Weiner is making are so specific that you're just focused.

Whereas 'Community' is more free-flowing jokes?
Absolutely. It's just a crazy free-for-all. Again, we do have great respect for the writing and for the work, but because it's a comedy, I think they want us to have that much fun all the time, and it trickles into the episodes, you know?

Have the filming schedules ever meshed in any weird way, where one day you're on the 'Mad Men' set and the next day you're doing 'Community?'
Yes, yes, absolutely. In fact, during the season, there were about two months when it overlapped, and I can remember two days... There was one day where I was on 'Community' in the morning, so I was there at 6:30, shot to the afternoon, we had a table read, then I went to 'Mad Men,' shot til midnight, 1:00 AM. and then I had to be back on 'Community' the next morning at 7:00.

How do you compartmentalize and wrap your brain around playing both roles in the same day?
As an actor, it's kind of a great thing... Because the characters, although they have similar traits in terms of perfectionism and being uptight and highly strung, they are so different. And for me on my own, it's physical stuff. Trudy has a different walk, she has a different voice. Annie carries herself differently, walks faster, does some things higher pitched, you know.

I would never take Annie with me to 'Mad Men,' because once you're in wardrobe, I couldn't feel like anyone but Trudy.

When you go home sometimes, do you just think about being on both these shows?
It's amazing. I'm just so...lucky. Sometimes I'm just reeling, like this is crazy.

What are we going see from Annie coming up?
Well, I think we're gonna see Annie maturing a little bit more, and she develops a love interest in the next couple episodes. You see her mature in certain ways, I think, and just in terms of how naïve she is, I think you do kind of see her growing.

Was it tough to play someone who's 18 and just out of high school?
No! I don't know why it's easy for me to connect with that part of myself. And you know, it wasn't that long ago, so it's easy, and it's fun for me to connect with that part, that sheltered girl that is having her first crush and her first kiss, and try to relive those moments through Annie.

Are you hearing anything about season four of 'Mad Men' at this point at all?
No, not at all. I have no idea. I don't even know our start date. I don't even know...

You were in the last scene of the season finale, weren't you?
Yeah. I was like yes... But I don't know what that means. Who knows?

We brought Rich Sommer on our podcast, and he said, "You know what, I was in that last scene, but I have no idea if I'm coming back."
That's what I said too! People are like yeah, you were in the final group. And I was like... sort of...but who knows. Everybody's up in the air.

When do you think you're going get the word? When does shooting start for season four?
I don't know when shooting starts. So I'm still waiting to hear a word on that, yeah. Hopefully in the next couple months I'll know something.

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She's gorgeous.
Nuff said.

February 18 2010 at 4:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chrisis123's comment

and how

February 18 2010 at 6:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ohhhhhh, I watch both shows and never noticed!

February 18 2010 at 3:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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