Best known for his role as Abed Nadir, a film student and pop culture junkie on the NBC comedy series “Community,” Chicago native Danny Pudi has crossed over from TV to the internet to introduce audiences to another character.
Starbrows is a sci-fi character with star-shaped eyebrows Abed creates to co-star in a Spanish video homework assignment given to him by his community college Spanish instructor Señor Ben Chang (Ken Jeong).
Parts one and two of “The Spanish Video Assignment” are currently featured at nbc.com/community. In the first episode, Starbrows teams up with El Star Prince (Dino Stamatopoulos) to rescue a Spanish princess from the evil Lord El Diablo. The second episode features Señor Chang as El Tigre, a scene-stealing superhero with superior powers.
Since breaking into showbiz in 2006, Pudi, who is a self-proclaimed “Pindian” (he’s half Indian, half Polish), has starred in a number of TV shows including “Gilmore Girls” and “Greek.”
During a conference call with me, Pudi talked about how much Spanish he actually learned while shooting the webisodes and more about his character Abed.
Did you know any Spanish before you started doing these webisodes? Did you actually learn any while shooting?
I did. I knew fuego and hielo and pantalones calientes! That was the extent of my Spanish, which is pretty embarrassing considering I spent an entire semester at Greendale Community College with Señor Chang. Hopefully through more of these webisodes, my Spanish will improve.
What would you consider the most Latino thing about you?
I’m a pretty good dancer. My hips are pretty Latino.
How do you think your character has evolved over the first season?
I’ve been fortunate because the writers have given me so much rich stuff to expand on. You never know in a comedy how things are going to go. I could have been a side character, but I’m part of the ensemble. The thing about Abed is that he uses all these pop culture references because it’s how he views the world and how he connects things.
What’s been the best part about playing a character like Abed?
It’s that every week I feel like I get to do something new and different. It feels like I’m in an acting class every week because I’m given an assignment like, “Oh my gosh, I have to master a Christian Bale impersonation.” After that I had to work on an African-American police chief impersonation. I’m constantly working on a wide variety of things, which always keeps me challenged and fresh. I also get to work with all these other artists who are all smarter and funnier than me.
Why are we starting to see more webisodes from different TV shows?
They a great marketing tool for shows. They are designed for our generation. They’re fun and people can pass them around. Even though they don’t tell you what the show is about it’ll grab your attention in a quick, funny way.
Where would you like to see your character Abed go after this season?
I’m just thankful my character is not one-dimensional. The fact that I get to play a character that is sort of odd and quirky and exploring the world is wonderful. I feel like every week is going to be a fun, new adventure. We’ll see what happens. One of the cool things we have been exploring is Abed’s progression as a filmmaker including these webisodes. I’m excited to see more of that and where that takes him. Since I didn’t go to school for film, I feel like I’m learning more about filmmaking.
How do you think El Star Prince would fare against other superheroes?
Anybody who is half mortal and half star has an advantage over anyone who is human. The other thing is that no one is going to expect laser beams coming out of his sideburns. I would have to pick El Star Prince over most superheroes out there.