If scene stealing were an Olympic sport, Jim Rash would be COMMUNITY’s gold medal winner. As Dean Pelton, the hilariously well-intentioned head honcho of Greendale Community College, Rash’s ability to make the most of what little screen time he’s given hasn’t just turned him into one of the small screen’s most memorable character, but resulted in a much-deserved third season promotion to series regular status. So just how does it feel to have a little job security under what we can only imagine is one helluva bizarrely bedazzled belt? Well, we had the pleasure of catching up with the affable actor at the recent Television Critics Association Press Tour in Los Angeles to find out just that, in addition to how Pelton plans on dealing with his latest nemesis, that of John Goodman’s Vice-Dean of Air Conditioning during COMMUNITY season 3. See for yourself after the jump.
Does season 3 feel any different now that you’ve been promoted to series regular?
Jim Rash: It feels good to know that I have a little security there but it feels the same as far as how welcoming it was to be working on the show because I was there a lot over the first two seasons. Of course, it’s just nice to know that I have got a job.
What was your first reaction to seeing how Dean Pelton was being scripted and was there anything in particular that inspired you to create such a memorable character?
It’s funny, when we shot the pilot they had already started shooting with somebody else in the part and I think I was a recast. I came into audition and then when I got it we did a take and Dan Harmon, the creator, gave me a great note, “Imagine this guy is always apologizing for having to be mean now and then,” and so it opened up this whole interesting thing where Dean Pelton really wants the school to be taken seriously more than anything so he has a good heart and everything came from there. As far as all the costumes and craziness, all of that sort of just evolved.
Does a promotion to series regular status mean fans might get to learn more about Dean Pelton?
I never know what plans they have, but I would imagine that this third season for Dan [Harmon] is a sort of a theme of evolution, with the study group taking Biology. And I think the whole idea is that each characters is going to be challenged by some kind of outside force. For me, John Goodman comes and he’s the Vice-Dean of Air Conditioning and I discover how much power he actually has. So it’s great to see me be vulnerable and I think through that process we’ll discover some kind of personal life. I for one would love to find out where I live, but these are all things up in the air.
Would it be safe to assume that the Study Group might be forced to choose allegiances when it comes to the impending war between Dean Pelton and John Goodman’s Vice-Dean of Air Conditioning?
Yes, very much so. It feels like Dan [Harmon] and the writers are sort of approaching this year as almost a WIRE type of scenario. In other words, really imagining the whole arc with multiple stories convening so it’s going to be an interesting year. I think what’s great about COMMUNITY is that each season it evolves in a little bit of a different way without losing what makes the show so special, which is these odd stories and once in a while these zombie things or space or paintball, nestling them all within that.
And finally, Dean Pelton’s sexuality… what’s the deal?
I like to think that it’s sort of this omni-love, sure it definitely skewers towards Jeff Winger [Joel McHale], but I think for Dan it’s important for him to say I’d rather have people ask that question forever because as soon as you declare it’s this or that it loses its interesting mystique. And as much as I think maybe Dean leans one way I don’t think he’d be adverse to jump in a big pile of awesome stuff and wherever things went things went!
COMMUNITY airs Thursdays at 8PM on NBC (CityTV in Canada) and stars Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Chevy Chase, Ken Jeong and Jim Rash. Catch up on past episodes you may have missed for free online at clicktowatch.tv