'Community' Interview: Yvette Nicole Brown and Malcolm-Jamal Warner
'Community' Interview: Yvette Nicole Brown and Malcolm-Jamal Warner
Community returns next week on NBC with a couple of big things for Shirley. One, her ex-husband returns. Two -- definitely perfect timing, I must say -- she has big news to tell the study group. If you've followed the show this season, you might have an inkling how this ends up. Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley) and Malcolm-Jamal Warner (Andre, Shirley's ex-husband) had a conference call with members of the press early this week -- including BuddyTV's Carey Proctor -- discussing what's behind their reunion and how working on Community has been working out for them.

Now that we know who Shirley's ex-husband is, what do you think about him?

Yvette: This is my wildest dream come true. When I was 13 years old, I was going to marry Theo [Huxtable of The Cosby Show]. Actually, I was campaigning for Malcolm to be my ex-husband from the very first day of the show. I've always said, "You know, if she reconciles with her ex-husband, I hope that it's Malcolm-Jamal Warner." I think the producers and writers got sick of me saying his name, so it's kind of like, "Shut up, Yvette, here it is."

Malcolm, how do you feel about that?

Malcolm: Well, I feel like I owe Yvette a commission check. (laughs) It's actually been a good time because I watch the show, and all the actors have such a great rapport off-camera. It's a really cool place to come to work.

Tell us more about the reunion between Andre and Shirley.

Yvette: It's really funny that, starting from his first appearance on the show, it felt like Shirley had amnesia, and I think it's because she tries really hard to always paint a perfect picture. There's a lot going on between them, but I don't know if you're going to be able to see the seething underbelly of pain that is corked between them.

Malcolm: You can see that Andre is not necessarily welcomed by the rest of the gang.

How do the other characters react to having Andre back in Shirley's life?

Yvette: The person that's most upset about it is Britta (Gillian Jacobs). She has been Shirley's greatest supporter as she's troubled by everything Andre's done over the past year, and I think she's like, "What are you doing? We finally got you to a place where you're not crying at night, and now he comes back and it's OK." Everyone else is a little concerned, but they're still regular personalities on the show. You can pretty much figure out where everybody will fall.

Why does Shirley want to get back with Andre, when he's been so horrible to her?

Yvette: Shirley, I think, is someone who believes that when you pick your horse, you ride it. It's not that she thinks they're perfect together. It's just, that's the horse you take, ride your horse. I think she was thinking of the Christian mindset. But then again, they cast Malcolm-Jamal Warner. Wouldn't you be keen to get back with that dude? I mean, seriously.

Do you think Andre definitely wants to change?

Malcolm: I think so. I have not talked to the writers about this, but my assumption is that the woman he left Shirley for, it turns out that it was more a temporary kind of relationship. She couldn't really have anything substantial.

Going back to the big news that Shirley's going to be sharing -- does that have anything to do with her pregnancy?

Yvette: We don't know yet if she's pregnant or not. If she is pregnant, I do believe that Andre has something to do with that. We're gonna find out in a couple of weeks, when we look into Shirley's little uterus.

Malcolm: At the end of the day, if Shirley is indeed pregnant, whoever's child it is, Andre is going to step up to the plate and be a father.

Malcolm, what did you like the most about portraying Andre?

Malcolm: I'm, for the most part, typecast as a nice guy. It's kind of cool to come in and play a guy who, even though he's got it down, he knows the horrific things that he is capable of. It's always fun to be able to play someone that is not necessarily as clean.

Will Andre be coming back?

Malcolm: We're definitely gonna see him in a few more episodes. Obviously you've heard all these despicable things about this guy, but here he is, really making an honest and genuine attempt at coming back and being a better man. A lot of the turmoil and tension that we're gonna feel will come from the rest of the gang.

Yvette: When they drew up this character who's done all these horrible things, I think they were brilliant to cast Malcolm because his face instantly rehabilitates the character. The moment he walks on the set, it's like, "Oh, that's Andre? Oh, Shirley's crazy -- there's nothing wrong with Andre." He completely evens out the playing field because he can now appear and not have the audience upset instantly. They're actually gonna give him a chance because he's embodied by Malcolm.

This season, we get to see Shirley's wild side. How does it feel to be able to let loose?

Yvette: The most fun I've had on set was the night I shot all of the drunk photos. I don't drink. I am silly enough and crazy enough without it, and when I drink it suddenly becomes a whole other story, so it was fun to portray the version of me that the world does not get to see. It was like a flashback to my college days.

You guys have this great chemistry as a cast. How do you maintain it throughout the season?

Yvette: I think this sounds corny, but we really do like each other as people, and when you like each other, you tend to have fun with each other no matter what you're doing, even if it's 16 hours around a table in a room. A lot of the stuff that you see on the air is a byproduct of the fun that we're having, and we always laugh because a lot of the little jokes that make it on the show ... come from 10 hours around a table, trying to make each other laugh.

The writers of the show have been so brave when it comes to putting you guys in wacky situation that are, at the same time, very real. What's the feeling like, waking up every morning and thinking, "OK, I could be inside a giant blanket fort"?

Yvette: We're always amazed that we are not just on a sitcom. We've been on a film noir set, we've been on a cartoon set -- this show is morphing into so many different things and you get to be a thousand different characters even though you're playing the same one. Malcolm actually said that the show straddles the line between brilliant and absurd. At some moments it's totally like a lucid, straightforward comedy, and at other moments it's like bizarro land, but it kinda works in its craziness. That's what makes it great as an actor to play.

(Image courtesy of NBC)