In an interview last week, longtime star of the NBC sitcom, ‘Community,’ which aired from 2009-2015, Joel McHale, talked about his time on the series and the drama that surrounded co-star Chevy Chase during his run on the comedy.
On the latest edition of the podcast, ‘Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum,’ McHale was asked about his time on ‘Community,’ which had a cult following all throughout its run. The show centered around McHale’s character, Jeff Winger, who is a disbarred lawyer who must go to Greendale Community College to earn a bachelor’s degree, where he joins a quirky, yet loving, study group. While many remember ‘Community’ for its unique humor and creativity, others will look back at the backstage drama that seemed to make more headlines than the actual episodes themselves at times.
Chevy Chase, who many remember from the first season of ‘Saturday Night Live,’ as well as the ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’ movie series, starred as the old, ignorant, and offensive Pierce Hawthorne, who goes to Greendale Community College because he simply doesn’t have anything else better to do. He starred on the show for the first full three seasons, with his appearances dipping in the fourth season following tension with the show’s writers, producers, and fellow cast members.
As McHale recalls when asked about Chase, he simply didn’t want to be there for the hours that they were. Making a single-camera sitcom takes a long time, so they would be working insanely long hours, and that took a toll on Chase as the years went long. McHale claimed they would have to shoot him out of scenes occasionally because he would leave early. They even had someone serve as a body double at one point because towards the end of his run on the show, he would leave without telling anybody.
Chase was annoyed with the direction of his character as well, publicly criticizing the writing of the show in interviews. One day, while shooting, Chase was protesting his character’s racist antics and wanted to show more of his human side. In doing this, he started to become enraged and said a racial slur, which caused production to be shut down. After that happened, Chase and the network agreed to mutually part ways, and he finished out the remaining episodes of the fourth season, largely being uninvolved in the main storylines.
There have been reports before that Chase was difficult to work with. On the podcast, McHale said that some days he was a real pain, but other days he was lovely. When asked if he or any the other cast have spoken to him, he said he spoke him to the most recently, but that was a few years ago, and the others had rarely spoken to him since his time on ‘Community’ ended.
Being a fan of the show and watching a lot of interviews and behind-the-scenes stuff, the entire cast and crew seem to generally avoid talking about Chase, although Dan Harmon, the show’s creator, as well as McHale and Donald Glover, who played Troy Barnes, have insulted him publicly. It’s a shame because Pierce was a really funny character on the show, but unfortunately, like Pierce, Chevy Chase was the outcast of the group and the one that made everyone angry.