This week on NBC’s ‘Community‘ (Thursdays at 8/7c), Greendale is turned into a war zone when a coveted prize is attached to the outcome of a paintball competition. Viewers are the guaranteed winners, though, as they witness one of the freshman comedy’s most manic and fun-filled episodes to date. Gillian Jacobs, who plays the luminous Britta, shared an in-depth look at the action-packed outing.
This week’s episode, “Modern Warfare,” is so action-oriented. Were you able to get a sense of how great it was just reading the script?
Once I heard the concept and I knew that Justin Lin (‘Fast & Furious’) was directing it, I knew it’d be unlike any half hour of comedy I’d seen on TV. ['Community' creator] Dan Harmon has this ability to think outside the conventional sitcom and reinvent it. I mean, we literally made an action film.
What sort of paintball expertise did you yourself bring into this?
Nothing but my enthusiasm! I don’t think I’ve ever even held a fake gun before, really. I quickly learned that my arms weren’t actually strong enough to hold two guns at once and keep them steady.
Do you have a single action-heroine bone in your wispy body?
I think I unleashed it, but they did make fun of me a lot, especially when I had to leap over the couch – that took a couple tries. But I really got into it. Justin makes everything so fun, we were all grinning ear-to-ear as we were shooting it.
This is where you share some anecdotes about painful welts, misfires, getting paint in bad places….
Alison [Brie] got a welt, I remember…. The guy who plays Garrett (Erik Charles Nielsen) really did not enjoy getting shot. He tried to talk Justin out of that, and they went back and forth for five minutes…. And Joel [McHale] didn’t eat carbs for a solid two months, and was continuously doing push-ups.
Can we talk about that? When Joel strips down for one scene, the guy is distractingly sculpted – like a life-size action figure.
I know, and it’s kind of intimidating. He’s already like a foot taller than me and I don’t have any muscle definition to speak of, and he has gone from being a fit guy to some sort of bizarre action-hero man.
Funny guys aren’t supposed to be that buff. Take it from me.
[Laughs] It’s a little disconcerting for other comedy guys, yeah. Joel’s upping the ante.
Speaking of that scene: Amid all this mayhem, Jeff and Britta find time for a close moment…
Given the fact that it is one episode in the arc of a season, you do have to have some character development, and I think it’s great the way they tie in the relationship. It’s a big moment for us in the middle of a big, fun episode.
Britta has done so many crazy things over this first season. Was there any one moment so absurd you could barely get through it?
Having a dead frog sewed to my jacket while wearing a sombrero – it’s hard to top that.
But surely that was a rubber frog.
Oh, no. No, no, no. It was an actual dead frog. And they actually did launch an actual dead frog at my face, repeatedly.
OK, so it wasn’t, say, the dance class episode.
No, but that was also terrific because when I told my mom I was doing it, she was like, “Oh, you were never very good at that, were you.” Thanks, Mom!
What can you reveal about the last few episodes? I’ve heard something about the men in full Dalmatian costumes.
Yes, truth – we are the only show on TV that has a character with a Dalmatian fetish. There is also some drama with the Greendale faculty; the return of John Oliver, rapping; a beauty contest; and we see Vaughn (Eric Christian Olsen) again.
And what are your own plans for “summer vacation”?
I just worked on this movie that shot in Chicago, and that was really fun. I had all my scenes with Ben McKenzie, from ‘Southland‘ and ‘The O.C.’ I plan to catch up on my sleep, travel a bit, and hopefully work a bit more!