Tonight’s “Community” haunted house episode (I reviewed it here) concluded with the surprise appearance of a very special guest, whom I was able to interview earlier today about their cameo, and another project they’re currently involved in. That guest star’s identity, and our conversation, coming up just as soon as I set my shrink ray to Daddy Issues…
Okay, so as those of you who watched the episode know, Giancarlo Esposito made a return appearance as Pierce’s half-brother Gilbert, whom we met in last season’s video game episode. I spoke with Esposito while he was on a break from filming his current gig on NBC’s “Revolution,” which will return from its lengthy mid-season hiatus on March 25. (Though as Esposito notes, it’s still a shorter hiatus than when he was on “Breaking Bad.”)
This was filmed a while back. Were you already in North Carolina filming “Revolution”? If so, how long had you been there?
Giancarlo Esposito: I had been down to “Revolution” at least three or four weeks, and got a call to come back and do another “Community.” It’s always like a whirlwind, which is the way the show appears to me, too: a spontaneous whirlwind. So they called me, and I had a few days, flew one day, one night, shot the next and was gone the next. That’s sort of the way I like to do it, especially with a show like “Community,” because it’s so off the cuff and so different. But I imagine my character Gilbert brings a little bit of grounding to those very very flightly characters that are on “Community,” especially Chevy Chase, who I enjoy so much.
Well, let’s talk about that. You’re appearing at the end of what’s essentially a big “Scooby-Doo” episode where you’re revealed as the man behind the haunted house, and yet it’s ultimately a sincere and sweet scene that you and Chevy wind up playing.
I like that. I like that it’s a surprise. You said it correctly: it’s a weird Scooby Doo episode. But in the end, (the writers are) so smart to point out the relevancy of connection and distant cameraderie that connects us through family. And I loved that sweet moment. I think that Pierce is a guy who, underneath it all, is yearning for more love and connection and a friend. As is Gilbert. I love the moment that comes down to that hug that says, “Hey, maybe we should try to connect more often, and maybe we should move in together and we’d be happier.” Yeah, it could be a little schmaltzy, but I take a lot of fun in the way it was effectively done.
Obviously, you had a good enough experience doing the first one that you would want to come back. Given the relationship between Gilbert and Pierce, did you expect to come back? Was it talked about during that first episode?
It wasn’t discussed. It was really interesting to me. I thought maybe that episode would be it, and they didn’t know if I would have the time or the interest. But again, I enjoyed the feeling on the set, and I enjoyed all the cast very very much, I think they have a really great thing going, but I did not expect to come back, although I was open to that. (Before I did it), my agent said, “Hey, you could be coming back to the show,” and I said, “If I have fun, I will.” And I did have fun on the first one, and I do like (the show) and the way the cast blends together, and the idea of what the storyline was. But I had fully expected to not have that happen, but they called and said, “Could you make it back?” And I said, “Sure.”
This season has already wrapped. Did you come back later, or was this it?
Not as of yet, no. But who knows what may happen in the future?
With “Revolution,” you still have several weeks to go before the show is back on the air. How eager are you for people to see it again?
Oh, very eager. I think it’s a very different schedule that’s been courageously adopted. I think it’s not as brutal as the cable model, which takes a year to catch back up with the show, which I think is dangerous. I am excited, because I think the first part of this season was a set-up for what is to come. I think everything else beyond this and after this is going to be fast and furious. It is going to surprise the audience not only with its dramatic effect, but also with its quick-hitting storylines. The writers for this are brilliant. I can’t wait to be back on the air because I think people will be blown away by what we’re doing: Mini-movies every week that are dramatic and technical and really quite full of the essence of what movies and film are about, but on television.
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org