Interview Date: 04/12/2011
Run Date: 04/15/2011
Either she’s far too cute to be as funny as she is, or she’s far too funny to be as cute as she is, but either way, Alison Brie has an onscreen presence that leaves you unable to avert your gaze. Bullz-Eye had a chance to chat briefly with Brie about her role in “Scre4m” (a.k.a. “Scream 4”), but we also got her thoughts on the renewal of “Mad Men,” the chemistry between her “Community” co-stars both onscreen and off, and her next big-screen appearance, “Five Year Engagement,” which finds her working with Jason Segel and Emily Blunt.
Bullz-Eye: The last time we spoke, it was you and I and Danny Pudi, and Oscar Nunez interrupted us.
Alison Brie: Oh, Oscar, of course! The engagement business. (Writer’s note: As I was chatting with Brie and Pudi at an NBC function, Nunez stepped in, ostensibly for only a moment, to tell them that he’d just gotten engaged. At this news, the conversation grew so enthusiastic between the three of them that I finally just took a step back and let them talk amongst themselves. By the time we finally resumed our interview, almost 15 minutes had passed. Brie and Pudi apologized profusely.) Well, it’s good to speak to you again!
BE: And you as well. So, “Scream 4.” How did you find yourself in the mix for the film?
AB: You know, I went in and…I actually auditioned for another role first, and I went in for Wes (Craven) and met Wes, and then they called me back in for the Rebecca role, which I was sort of more excited to play. I really like the character of Rebecca. It’s just a fun role, and it was something different for me. And I was such a fan of the “Scream” movies to begin with that when I found out they were making a fourth one…I mean, this is a movie I was going to see anyway… (Laughs) …so to be in it was just sort of icing on the cake! And then when I saw this role, she’s a publicist, which I thought would be interesting. Working with publicists all the time, I thought, ‘What an interesting thing to take a stab at.’ If you will.
AB: (Laughs) So, yeah, it was really fun. And she was more bitchy than I used to playing, which I liked. It liked it, playing somebody who has less of a conscience and is a little less emotional than the other characters I play.
BE: How was it to play off and against Neve Campbell?
AB: It was great. Neve is so sweet and was so welcoming that I was immediately at ease working with her. And, obviously, she’s such a professional, and this role is one that she’s right at home in, because she’s done it in three other movies. And she’s just really good! (Laughs) So it’s easy, but she’s really good, and she’s really understated, so it’s easy to kind of not go too “out there” when you’re working with her. You keep it on a really grounded level.
BE: Now, this is not your first horror film. At the very least, I know you were in “Parasomnia.”
AB: That’s right! (Laughs) I also did another horror film before that, called “Born,” that went straight to video…and do not rent it. I do not recommend it to people! (Laughs)
BE: So are you in general a fan of the horror genre, then?
AB: I am, yes. But I choose the horror films I see very wisely, because I’m also a terrible scaredy-cat. It’s, like, I love them, but they terrify me, so I really don’t go see them all. But like I said, I loved the “Scream” movies so much. And I think that their elements of comedy, too, makes them so accessible to younger audiences. When I first saw “Scream,” I was in middle school or early high school or something like that, so I do think it’s very appealing to…well, to all ages, really.
BE: Well, unfortunately, they have not yet screened the film here, so who else do you get to play against?
AB: You know, most of my stuff is with Neve, Courteney, and David. So I was all original cast, all the time. (Laughs) Which was great! It was a nice dream come true. It was fun!
BE: I’m sure you’re thrilled that “Mad Men” is now secured for another couple of seasons.
AB: Yes! Yes, I was relieved to hear that that was moving forward, although, really, to be honest, I don’t think I was that concerned about it. Matt Weiner is so wonderful, and the show could not exist without him, so I had a lot of faith that they were going to work it out.
BE: Are you disappointed that it’s going to be so long before the next season premieres?
AB: I am! I’m disappointed because it usually works out so nicely with my “Community” schedule that “Mad Men” shoots during the summer, and “Community” doesn’t start ‘til the fall. With “Mad Men” starting later, I’m not sure what that’s going to mean for Trudy’s involvement for the season, but we’ll see.
BE: “Community” was not quite as secure as “Mad Men” insofar as scoring another season, so I’d guess that was more exciting when you heard that had been picked up for a third year.
AB: Yes! We were ecstatic! (Laughs) I was actually at a costume fitting for a movie I’m about to start shooting on Monday, so I had my phone on silent, and it’s, like, I finally looked at it to see what time it was, and there were, like, 20 messages on the phone, from everyone in the cast, (creator) Dan Harmon, our producers, our makeup artists…yeah, that was a really exciting day. I think I went to Disneyland. (Laughs)
BE: As well you should when you get news like that. Well, you know, I have to say that, having seen you guys at various TCA events, it’s clear that the chemistry that you guys have off-screen affects what you do onscreen.
AB: Yes! Yes, thank you for saying that. I’m always relieved to hear people say that they like the way that translates on camera, because we really get quite silly with each other on a pretty constant basis, so I’m, like, “I’m glad this is helping the show, because if it were hurting the show, we’d all be in a lot of trouble!”
BE: If anything, amazingly enough, you guys may actually be crazier off-screen than you are on.
AB: This might be true. (Laughs) It’s true, when we were filming our finale, Joe Russo, who’s one of our producers but has also directed many episodes, he was directing our finale, and we were all kind of overtired with the long hours, and everyone was being super silly. And then we started doing this scene, and Joe just had to come in and go, “Okay, now react again, but like your characters.” And everybody just laughed. We were, like, “Oh, yeah, we were not doing that at all.” We were just being silly, being crazy.
BE: I’m curious: have you ever had anyone approach you after hearing about Annie’s Adderall addiction, saying, “I can totally relate to that”?
AB: (Laughs) Well, you know, once in…gosh, where was I? I was in Tahoe, in a casino with Danny Pudi and some friends, and this group of girls came up to us, and they were, like, “Abed! Omigosh!” They were freaking out. And then he was, like, “Oh, you know, she plays Annie.” And they were, like, “Annie! Omigod, we love you! You were addicted to Adderall…? We take it all the time!” And I was sort of, like, “I don’t know if that’s a good thing. But I’m glad you like the show!” (Laughs) I sort of thought that was a little misdirected enthusiasm in that case, but I was still glad that they were watching!
BE: So where do you hope to see Annie go in Season 3?
AB: Gosh, you know, I just think whatever they do I’m onboard. This year, in the finale, we definitely get to see, like, a tougher side of Annie, and that’s really cool, this kind of empowered Annie, which is fun, you know? Poor Annie. She’s always falling in love with different people, and it never really goes anywhere. I’d love for her to get… (Hesitates) Oh, I don’t know if that would even be that interesting. You know, they can just keep doing what they’re doing with her, and I’d be fine with it.
BE: And you never really know what they’re going to do with her…or anybody, really. It’s very all over the place…in a very good way.
AB: Yes. Very much so. Which is great. We all look forward to the table reads very much.
BE: Do you have a favorite episode from Season 2?
AB: One of my favorites is the bottle episode. It was early in the season, but I just think…there was so much good stuff from everybody in the cast and for every character, and when we were shooting it, it really felt like we were doing a play. It was like we were all locked in this room, doing these never-ending scenes, because…you never leave! You never go anywhere! But it was really fun. It’s still one of my favorites. Also, we have a great episode coming up, that’s airing in a couple of weeks, that’s sort of a clip episode of past moments with the group that have been fun, and it’s totally out there. It’s super zany, and there’s so much packed into one episode.
BE: You guys do a great job of playing with convention.
AB: Yes! Absolutely yes. And the clip show is one of those. It’s one of those great things where you’re watching a show look back at its great moments…but maybe you’ve never seen some of these moments before. (Laughs)
BE: Lastly, I just wanted to briefly ask you about “Five Year Engagement,” since I presume that’s the film you referenced that you’re just getting ready to start work on.AB: Yes! Yes, I am. It’s great! I’m so looking forward to it. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m playing Emily Blunt’s sister. She and Jason Segel star in the film, Nick Stoller’s directing, and Judd Apatow’s producing. We’re actually going back to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to shoot over there. I say we’re going back, but I mean I’m going back, ‘cause we just shot “Scream 4” there. (Laughs) I feel like maybe I should buy a summer home there! But it’s great. I’ve been working on my British accent, because I will be Emily’s sister, and she’s using her regular accent. So that’s been a lot of fun, and…I’m just looking forward to it!