‘I Hate to Say How Terrified I Am to Do It Wrong’: Dan Harmon Says His Expectations for the ‘Community’ Movie Are Just As High As Those of His Obsessed Fans
It has now been one year since Peacock officially ordered a film adaptation of Community, and it’s been over eight years since the students and faculty of Greendale appeared on any screen in an official capacity. Despite the middling ratings that the show enjoyed throughout much of its original run, the fervently and feverishly devoted online Community fanbase has not lost an ounce of its intensity throughout numerous cancellations, firings and departures from key members of the Greendale family, and after so long without any developments in their favorite franchise, those fans’ longstanding loyalty is maddeningly close to finally being rewarded.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in a feature released earlier today, Harmon and his co-writer Andrew Guest discussed their successful reuniting of the entire original cast (sans Pierce, of course), the pressures of post-strike scheduling and the daunting expectations that every Community fan has had almost a decade to massively inflate — Harmon himself included. “I hate to say how terrified I am to do it wrong, because there’s a part of me that knows that that fear cannot possibly result in a good thing,” Harmon admitted — as if he’s never even seen “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps.”
“I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that the story would involve the gang getting back together,” said Harmon, who had promised a return of core cast members Yvette Nicole Brown and Donald Glover long before they officially committed to the Community movie. Despite the way some of the actors who first signed on for a scrappy, low-budget meta sitcom in the late aughts grew into in-demand A-listers with superstar schedules, Harmon is insistent that he will not shoot different actors separately, à la the Arrested Development reboot.
“The thing that’s going to matter most to me as an audience member or to anybody who loved that show is seeing those people see each other,” Harmon explained. “And they still love each other, and it’s not going to feel the same if you’re shooting them separately at different months in different locations.” Though the strike-induced shutdown of new projects will pose problems for Harmon’s ambitious shooting schedule, logistical issues are far from his only worries.
Harmon acknowledged sky-high expectations of the Community superfans who have kept their faith through all the ups and downs, saying, “That’s the fandom that’s been the most supportive of me, all told, and has endured the most for supporting me.” Harmon half-apologized to the Community die-hards over age-old drama when he referenced his infamous falling out with Chevy Chase, saying, “I wasn’t thinking about them when I was feuding with Chevy. Only later did I realize that I’d hurt these people who didn’t want to think about me as some kind of odd, self-styled Kubrick. They cared about Greendale, this world that I created, and suddenly, they were getting this unadulterated side order of me, which was not fair to them.”
The pressure of living up to the expectations of a fanbase who followed him to TV hell and back is, itself, one of the biggest obstacles Harmon faces in finishing the Community movie’s script. “You’re not going to get anywhere doing an impression of what you think you should do or what you think they want, but I really don’t want to do it wrong, and it is truly terrifying,” Harmon revealed. “But then I’m holding on to the hope that being honest with myself about how scared I am is at least a way to break the cycle.”
Obviously, Harmon is the only person who could ever pull off a Community feature film, and most long-suffering fans will be grateful for any new Community content he manages to make. Still, Harmon’s fear of failing the most devoted fans of the franchise is understandable — no one wants to be Inspector Minerva.