Community’s Danny Pudi on His Humble Beginnings As a Butt-Dialer

By , December 10, 2009

Community has been one of this fall’s breakout shows, and Abed — the kindhearted, socially awkward student played by newcomer Danny Pudi — is one of the season’s best new characters. The Chicago native studied at Second City and had recurring roles on Greek and Gilmore Girls, but if he looks familiar, it may have to be for the string of commercials he’s appeared in, including spots for T-Mobile and McDonald’s.

Vulture has an interview with Danny, and here are some of the Q&A:
So, how did you land Abed?
I’ve been auditioning for a while. I’ve been in Los Angeles for about four years. So this came in like any other audition during pilot season, but I read the script, and I was trembling. I realized how fun it could be. The minute I read it, I was like, “Oh man, I will give all my fingernails and shave my eyebrows for this role.” Thankfully, they didn’t make me do that … it wasn’t in the script or part of the audition process. I knew my one potential negative was that I am half-Polish, so I decided not to reveal that till a later time.
You were also appearing in a lot of commercials right before Community began airing.
I did the butt-dialing commercial for T-Mobile, and it did help get my face out there a bit. When I went out for the Community audition, one of the producers recognized me and was like, “Hey, you’re the butt-dialer!” Right away, that makes me feel more comfortable, when someone’s like, “Butt dialer’s here!” I imagine it would be more difficult if you were going out for a leading man. Like if they’re making Gladiator 2 and I walk in, and they go, “Butt-dialer!” It’s gonna be really hard to be, you know, Euophonius the Master of the Ring and slaying soldiers when two seconds ago they were calling you butt-dialer. But for this role, it actually worked out perfectly.
What is it about you that makes people think you can sell stuff?
This is sort of a good time for Indians, and I am half-Indian, so I’m perhaps riding some of the Slumdog wave? Literally the other day on set, there was a person who came up to me, and this is not even a joke, they literally were like, “Hey man, were you in Slumdog?” I don’t think I look that much like Dev Patel, if you look closely. But I was like, “Okay, for people who haven’t seen a lot of Indians before, I guess you can kind of group us together.” Also, my body is really awkward looking, kind of long and lanky. I get compared to giraffes a lot. And I think there’s something funny about that, that people can relate to. Or at least they like to see me next to a product — “Oh, there’s a giraffe. Oh, it’s actually Danny Pudi, actor. Not playing a giraffe. Selling T-Mobile phones.”

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