‘This Was the Role I Was Born to Play’: Danny Pudi Dives into the Terror of Taking the Role of Abed in ‘Community’
The only thing greater than the joy an actor feels when they find the role of a lifetime is the terror that takes hold when they worry that they’ll screw it up.
This summer, Danny Pudi returns to the role that endeared himself to a resilient group of fans when the Community feature film finally starts shooting. Though a couple of his cast mates are still glaring question marks for the movie, the actor behind the beloved Abed Nadir did get to have one reunion ahead of schedule when he signed on for a supporting role in Alison Brie’s romcom Somebody I Used to Know, which premiered this past February to a warm response. Speaking with The Last Laugh podcast, Pudi reflected on the return to set with an old friend and the origins of his involvement with the franchise that has somehow stayed in his and its fans’ lives through a string of firings and cancellations.
Pudi recalled his agent sending him an email about the part of Abed on Community with the subject line, “Here’s the role you were born to play.” Nothing could have scared him more.
“When I read Community, when the script came my way, I was terrified. Because I was like, this is it! This feels right,” Pudi explained on the podcast. “It was a show that I knew I would watch and be a fan of. It felt very personal. It just felt like Dan Harmon literally wrote it and threw it at me.” It would be just like Harmon to throw a fresh script directly at an actor’s face, but that would have been less stressful to Pudi than the possibility that his dream role wouldn’t work out.
Pudi said of his stress, “In some ways, you try to play these mental tricks where you’re just like, ‘Whatever, if it happens, it happens. It’s probably not that great (anyway),’ just to calm myself down.” But the part was more than great — it was perfect. Pudi’s performance as Abed quickly became a fan favorite, and as the show progressed, the Community writers increasingly used Abed’s unique point-of-view to unlock the show’s weirdest, smartest and most meta potential.
“I think that there was this idea of this character that’s in the middle of the action, the middle of this study group, who just sees things differently,” Pudi continued. “And I could always relate to that. … I just think that there was something really playful about how he saw the world, which I loved.”
Community fans are eager to see what Abed has been doing since the events of Season Six, as is Pudi, but the butterflies still persist. “I’m definitely a little nervous. It’s been a while. But I’m also very, very excited,” he said.
Don’t worry Danny, it will all be cool cool cool.