Next to former Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac, Oscar Nuñez proved to be one of the most popular panelists at the 2016 New York Comic Con’s People of Earth panel. That’s because nearly every person who stepped up to the mic with a question (or three) prefaced it by saying, “So I’m a really big fan of The Office.” To his credit, Nuñez embraced the fandom and gifted his questioners with free gag gifts he’d brought onstage. And when those ran out, he offered his fellow cast members’ water bottles and name placards instead.
Aside from being funny in person, the man who gifted America with the hilarious kissing scene from “Gay Witch Hunt” is also quite good in People of Earth. Nuñez plays Father Doug, a Catholic priest whose parish hosts the alien
abductee experiencer group StarCrossed. Such a character would seem a fish out of water in a show like this, but the comic actor brings Doug’s struggle with belief to life as beautifully as Cenac’s Ozzie Graham and the others ensemble members. It’s quite the tight-knit troupe, and according to Nuñez, viewers have fellow The Office alum Greg Daniels to thank for that.
How did the role of a Catholic priest in a show about alien abductions come to you?
I think we got a call from Greg Daniels, and we spoke. He told me about it, about the show, and then I discussed it with my wife briefly, and that was pretty much it. I wasn’t already busy, the opportunity was there, and Greg Daniels was like, “Well this is a good show! I’m involved with it and this is what I think of the show.” He described the part for me and I thought, “Yeah sure, that’s fine. I get it.” At the time is was a small part, possibly recurring, so I said yes. It was basically a no-brainer.
I assumed we wouldn’t see too much of Father Doug since he’s not a member of StarCrossed. Having watched the first four episodes, I stand corrected.
There have always been good shows with ensembles. You know, things like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and certainly The Office. And so in an ensemble piece, I think the best approach is just to do your thing, play it close to the vest and let the writers discover you. Eventually, if the show is successful and has more and more episodes, they will get to all the characters. Yeah, so that’s kind of what’s happening. It has to happen organically.
“Organic” is a good word to describe it.
I think David Jenkins has a hold on that. It’s nice to be able to go back and forth between the aliens, the people experiencing the aliens, and the relationships between ourselves — small town stuff, neighbor stuff, personal stuff. I think it’s nice to be able to do that. To go beyond the shows we sort of reference, like The X-Files. It’s nice to be able to go back and forth and not be completely overwhelmed by the aliens and the science-fiction. It feels like anything can come out of left field, and that’s a good feeling.
The rest of the cast talked about researching alien abductions and chatting with abductees at New York Comic Con. How’d you prepare yourself to play a priest?