Alison Brie, one of the stars of NBC's Community, was thrilled when she learned there would be another campus paintball war at Greendale Community College. "Our first paintball episode [in Season 1] had been so epic and so well-received," says Brie, who plays Annie, the high-strung perfectionist of the mismatched study group. "People consider it a turning point for our show." Besides, she adds, "I was especially excited because Annie got taken out pretty early when we did the original paintball episode and this time I really have a lot more to do." In the two-part movie Western-themed season finale, Annie has toughened up quite a bit. She has "more swagger" and an element of "cool badassery." But isn't it always the way? There's also an inevitable downside. And in the case of paintball episodes, Brie says, it's that paint winds up in the most inconvenient places. "Like deep in the caverns of my ears," she says. "I clean my ears. I'm not a dirty bird. I swear! I'll clean them every time I shower, every day, and I still had paint coming out of my ears, like, a week later. I couldn't believe it. It grossed me out." The things actors endure for their art. "It's true!" The season finale of Community, titled "For a Few Paintballs More," airs at 7 p.m. CT Thursday, May 12.
What's the deal with Annie's clothes or lack of them in these season-ending paintball episodes?
"Annie starts out kind of dressed, but then she just loses her clothing. She's a girl who has been through a lot. When we catch up with Annie, pretty much at the beginning of the first of the two episodes, she's already been through quite a bit and the clothes were just slowing her down. So she had to just, you know, let them go. Somehow I don't think the male viewers are having a problem with the costume."
If you could cook up your own offbeat, movie-themed homage episode, what might it be?
"Gosh, an underwater episode. I think a mermaid episode, like The Little Mermaid. That would be the best. That would be kind of awesome. Like a Splash episode where Annie just shows up, like, naked on a beach and then you're like, 'Oh, my God, she's a mermaid.' I'm going to pitch it."
Is there a lot of you in the character and a lot of the character in you?
"I think there is a lot of overlap. More so now than there was at the beginning of Season 1, just because our writers pay attention. They kind of just put little things that we do in the scripts all the time. I mean, obviously we're playing characters and nobody on the show is exactly like their characters. But all the characters and actors are slowly morphing closer together with each episode that we do. So it's not a huge stretch for me. Also, there are 'Annieisms' that are not totally me, but they're becoming habit."
Do you think Annie's romantic feelings toward Jeff (Joel McHale) will ever amount to anything?
"I think she definitely still has a thing for Jeff. I just think she's young and impressionable. They shared a very romantic kiss, an exchange. I think that she looks up to him in a lot of ways and I think a lot of her journey is her trying to be her own leader, as opposed to always kind of everybody following Jeff and looking up to Jeff. I would imagine that's hard for her, since she has a crush on him. Maybe she'll always have a crush on him. Of course, there was a great moment this season with Troy (Donald Glover) and Annie. They went to school together. They grew up together. They're the same age. So the Troy and Annie thing I still find appealing. However, she could end up with anybody. You never know."
Now that you put it that way, there also was an episode in which Annie and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) came close to kissing, wasn't there?
"It was such a funny thing, because it wasn't in the script. We just sort of like kind of improvised it when we were doing it. Joe Russo, one of our producers, was there. He was like, 'I'll just yell, "Kiss her," and then you guys do that.' I couldn't believe they kept it in the episode, to be honest."