Community’s Yvette Nicole Brown Breaks Down Sass, Joel McHale, and Weird O.J. Speculation

By , February 5, 2010

Movie Line has an interview with Community star Yvette Nicole Brown. Here are some of the highlights:

yvette nicole brown

Community has a great ensemble. What do you think Shirley’s place is in the show’s core?
I think Shirley’s kind of the heart of the show in that she’s really sentimental and she just adores everybody in the group, even Chevy’s character Pierce who hits on her all the time. She just really has a love for everyone, so I think the love that oozes out of her and her excitement for everyone makes everyone a cohesive unit. Because she’s got two sides where she’s really, really sweet and then also really, really full of rage — I think that kind of keeps everyone a little nervous around her. The “unstable-ness” of her is where the funny comes in from Shirley.

Some hubbub stirred up online recently, withCommunity fans wondering about the implications of the way your name is presented in opening credits. It appears that a knife is going into a cake that says “Nicole Brown” on it, while your first name “Yvette” floats above. Were you surprised to hear that people drew connections to the slain Nicole Brown and the O.J. Simpson trial?
It was not intentional, and it’s still on credits. People really took that the wrong way. People don’t know that my real full name is Yvette Nicole Brown, and I’ve had it my whole life, long before Nicole Brown was murdered. No one respects her name and legacy more than me, because I kind of carry it now, you know? That’s not something I would’ve chosen for myself, but that’s the way it worked out. The cake and the knife are the two sides of Shirley; she’s sweet and she’s rageful. No one ever thought, “Oh, let’s do something funny about someone who was murdered.” That’s horrible!Nobody involved in the show has that type of spirit.

I was really thinking that the people who saw that and made that connection, it said more about them than about any of us. It sickened me to see that, that people thought we would do that. That people thought I would allow that. You know what I mean? It was just disgusting to me. It has nothing to do with Nicole Brown Simpson, and I totally respect her and — I’m horrified by it. I think the reason it remained is because we knew we hadn’t done that for that reason. We knew why it was there. If you look at everybody’s credit, there’s something about each person. Like Alison [Brie’s] character Annie is very funny, so she has smiley faces. It all has something to do with who the person, or character is. It has nothing to do with anything else.

Can you talk about watching Joel McHale progress on the show? He appears to have become very comfortable as the season has gone on.
Joel is just one of my favorite people on the planet. He’s a very caring, loving family man. All of his snarkiness and smart-aleckiness hides, or is wrapped around, this amazing heart. So that’s the first thing. In regards to his evolution, I’ve been so impressed with him as an actor. I’ve seen him in a couple of things way before he did The Soup, but to see his level of skill? When you’re in a scene acting with someone, a lot of times, when the camera is on them and not on you, you get to actually watch them as a spectator and enjoy them. And Joel’s ability to, what we were talking abouy, change on a dime, but he is the person who has the supercomputer brain. I don’t know if you’d paid really close attention to the chunks of dialogue this man has to deliver, but [creator] Dan Harmon is so intelligent, and so witty and interesting, a lot of things are so deep and crazy, they’re hard to say. Joel has had more tongue-twister-type monologues stuff than everybody — he and Gillian [Jacobs] actually have the most. He is able to deliver it in a way that’s real cerebral, but you’re like “Oh, I get that.” But he’s able to deliver it because he’s such a skilled actor. He says things that are mean-spirited, but because Joel is so likable, you’re OK with it. His innate likability is serving the character Jeff in a way the producers probably never thought was possible. He can do everything as far as I concerned.

Lastly, NBC’s Thursday night lineup is, without a doubt, the most solid in primetime — though it’s not the most highly rated. Is that disheartening?
A lot of shows didn’t start out huge. Seinfeld was seen by almost no one when it started, The Office too. I think we’re going to be a slow burn. There’s going to be people who watch season two, and if we’re lucky to get a season three, people who are then going to go, “What is this show?” and they’ll catch up. I don’t know why more people haven’t found us, but there are a lot of shows that aren’t highly rated that I love. We happen to be on a network that loves to give comedies a chance. Other networks are quick to cancel shows that don’t immediately come out of the box with fifty thousand, million viewers. We’re on a network that says, “No, we love this show, and we’re going to give it a chance to get numbers.” I’m grateful we’re on NBC and thankful we’ll be able to find the audience we’re supposed to have.

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