On Community, Danny Pudi’s character, Abed, helped drive some of the show’s most creative explorations of genre tropes and pop culture tributes. In Powerless — a workplace comedy set within a superhero world — the goal isn’t to dissect, but to highlight (in a comedic way) the lives of those people that we often only see fleeing the chaos. But what about the people who take this stuff very seriously? Pudi is aware of the intense passions that propel comic book fans, and in our recent conversation, we discussed that, the changes his character went through from the first attempt at the show to this fresh effort, getting inspiration from comics, and the prospect of a superhero fantasy draft.
How has your character, Teddy, changed from the first pilot that was screened at San Diego Comic-Con?
In the original version of the pilot, Teddy is a little bit more Emily’s best friend. In terms of his job, the specificity is also different, because he’s sort of this guy who’s just kind of working in an insurance office. The newer version is way more specific, I think because we’re in the research and development unit at Wayne. Now Teddy’s job is chief design officer, so he’s got a little bit more ambition and a little bit more drive. I think in the newest version, he kind of sees himself as this iconoclast. Because of that, he also bumps into others in the office a little bit more because he has a very specific way of looking at the products and sort of the integrity of products. He’s very concerned about the difference between sangria and amethyst and how there is a very specific, unique, important difference between those two colors. If we lose sight of that, we lose sight of everything.
Sometimes, he can kind of get in his head a little bit. But I think it kind of gives him a little bit more direction. I think he has dreams and aspires more in his work life to create some really cool products. In terms of the office, he’s a little bit more of a realist. I think, in some ways, Emily is very optimistic and Teddy’s, I think, a dreamer in a different way. Teddy kind of is a dreamer in reality. Based in reality. A lot of that has to do with sort of his life because he comes from a family with really high expectations, and he’s also kind of been stuck in this job a little bit. So his dreams, I’m not sure how much he believes in his own dreams.
Are we going to see Teddy interact with his family? Maybe see more outside of the lab with friends, a love interest?
We meet his family coming up, which is a fun episode for me. Not sure how much I can say about it. But we do meet his family. You get to sort of see sort of the backdrop for what Teddy is dealing with at home and how that influences his life day-to-day in the office.
He definitely comes from a family of high achievers, and as brilliant as Teddy thinks he is or might come across, he is quite insecure because of his family situation, because of all the other brilliant minds in his family. That was fun for me to explore. The family’s really great in the episode, and I think it also kind of gives a little bit more of a layer to Teddy, so you don’t just kind of take him as this character who is this real specific techie who’s coding all day and creating some kind of new product. He’s actually this person that is hoping to accomplish great things, not just for himself and the world but also to impress his mom and dad, for the first time possibly.