NBC's Thursday night comedy hit Community will continue its tradition of high-profile guest stars this week when actress Hilary Duff appears on Episode 2.7: Aerodynamics of Gender, which airs on Thursday, November 4 at 8 PM ET. Hilary Duff will play Meghan, the ultimate "mean girl" who squares off with everyone's favorite study group at Greendale Community College. Hilary Duff recently held a conference call to discuss her guest-starring role in the series. Here's what she had to say:
You're playing a very different character in Meghan from what your fans have seen you as in a lot of other roles. So was there something that attracted you particularly to this role?
Hilary Duff: You know what? I think I just like to have fun. It was a different character, which was exciting for me to get to play. And it was only a few days out of my life. So it was fun to just kind of like jump into that. I'm also a really big fan of the show, and that was very enticing to me, too.
Is there any chance that you'll reprise the role in the future?
Hilary Duff: I would love to. I think that's one of the great things about the show is they bring their guest stars back quite often. So, if they wrote more of a storyline for Meghan I think I would, of course, come back. I had a great time.
What do you love best about the show?
Hilary Duff: Well, it's quirky and it's funny and I think the actors really get to shine in it. And I got to work with Danny Pudi who is so, so funny, and Ken Jeong and Gillian Jacobs is so sweet and nice. I think it's just nice to have a show that's such a unique prop base at a Community college, and Joel McHale obviously is hilarious. I think it's unique.
What's your favorite characteristic about Meghan?
Hilary Duff: Let's see, I think that it was fun for me to get to play a mean girl because it is so different than anything I've ever done before. It was fun to play a character that acts super confident but is totally shallow and scared inside. Danny Pudi's character on the show really brings out like her weakness, like chinks in her armor. I thought that was really fun to play, to get to be kind of tough but you do see how weak she is inside. Being the most popular girl at a Community college is important to her. I thought that was really funny.
Can you tell us a little more about your character Meghan, as far as how she's a mean girl? Like, maybe an example?
Hilary Duff: Sure. The episode is funny. Basically what's happening is everyone at school is kind of being bullied by Danny Pudi's character who turns into kind of a robot. And he comes up with the greatest insults. So the girls are kind of being attacked, like the mean girls, like (Billie Ann) and some of the others. They're being kind of - they're like the outcasts, right, and the mean girls are taking over and kicking them out of their spots at lunch and taking over the good seats in class and so on and so on. And so Danny Pudi kind of comes into their clique and just like mutilates everyone with these horrible insults, right? And he's very good at it. So my character kind of gets put in her place because he's a robot and you can't really like - you can't really fight against that, you know, because he's way better. So she has this big scene where - or I have this big scene where I walk into the school cafeteria and call him out and everybody hears and he ends up really embarrassing me and I leave. And obviously status is very important to my character, Meghan, and we just go back and forth the whole time, it's very funny because they're in Community college, you know, like they're old enough to know better. But it's everything to them in their world. And that's just one of the examples. And then his character actually ends up helping me regain my status and it's pretty funny.
Obviously the cast is hilarious and I can only imagine off camera, how funny it must be working with them. So are there any memorable moments that you can recall?
Hilary Duff: Yes, there's a few. It's pretty hard to keep a straight face around those people. They're so bad. And you know what? They really love each other, which is nice. We work really long hours on that show and they are like a very tight knit family. So that was great to just walk into, you know, everyone being there like (completes) me and accepting and whatever. Danny just dances his way through life. It's so funny. He'll just be standing there doing nothing and all the sudden just start wiggling. And it's hilarious. And Ken Jeong actually, a lot of my scenes are with him, and he - there's this scene where I'm storming out of the cafeteria and I'm really embarrassed and he is laughing so hard that he squirts milk out of his nose and he calls it a snarf. And it was so disgusting and hilarious at the same time. And he was really doing it. It was amazing. But he walks out - I walk out and he blows the milk out of his nose and he's like, 'Oh, my God, that girl looks exactly like Haylie Duff.' And it wasn't written or anything, but I thought it was hilarious, like I almost fell down to my knees like his delivery and everything was so, so funny. And my sister loves him. So when I told her that story she was like, just dying.
I know you do a lot of guest shots on TV like Community and Gossip Girl. Is it easy for you to fit in with the cast or do you sometimes get nervous or intimidated trying to fit in with an established cast?
Hilary Duff: You know what? I think that it's always a little scary walking into a new environment that people see each other every single day and, you know, work together. So they kind of know how to banter off one another in a scene. You know, there's definitely a little bit of scary territory that comes with that. But they - especially the Community cast were so sweet and welcoming and just super outgoing. You know, then they like - you can tell they hang out offset and they're good friends and they're just total goofballs. They get to have so much fun on the show because it's so quirky and off beat. It kind of made it easy for me to jump in there and have fun with them. But yes, it's a little scary, you know, walking into a group that's spends time together every single day.
Now, as far as Gossip Girl is concerned, are you going to be doing any more guest shots on that show?
Hilary Duff: I don't think so. I mean, when I signed on to do it, it was just, you know, six episodes, and I know they do bring their characters back sometimes, but I don't think there's any plans to do that.
When you first arrived on set were there any mean girls that you used as inspiration to get into character? How did you prepare?
Hilary Duff: Oh, no, nobody was mean on set. But I don't know, I've never gotten to play a mean girl and so it wasn't that I had to do so much preparation it was just exciting to play something different. I don't think it's that hard for girls to be able to play mean because everyone's had someone be mean to them before. You know, or know what it's like to be snotty, you know, or it was really fun actually.
This is like show up and be a bitch kind of thing?
Hilary Duff: Yes, totally.
How much fun was it to trade insults with Danny? Were you able to freestyle or did you have to stick to the script?
Hilary Duff: We did a little bit of both. We did a few takes where we stuck to the script so it was a more structured. They actually have a very good work ethic over there. They do about five takes of just doing it the way it is in the script, and then they let you have fun with it. So the scene still has like structure, but then, you know, for take seven to eight you're really getting in the flow of everything and getting to bounce off the actors and just come up with stuff that feels funny and natural at the time. Which is great because Danny and Ken Jeong, who I worked with most, they're just total goofballs. So it was fun.
You get some really funny lines. You say something about his mom being raped by a Muppet. Never thought I'd hear you say that one before. Do you have trouble saying stuff like that without laughing?
Hilary Duff: Yes, and especially because in that one scene - in most of the other scenes that I have with Abed, with Danny, he's giving it back to me. But in this one he's like kind of turns into a robot or whatever. So his robot has shut down and he's decided to not be mean anymore. So I'm throwing these insults at him and he has like the saddest look on his face. And it made me feel really bad when I was doing it. Because I say, 'Oh, you look like a lizard whose mom got raped by a Muppet.' And make fun of his clothes and it's like in front of the whole cafeteria I call him out. So it made me feel bad but sometimes I would laugh because his little face would look so sad. But it was fun. I haven't really done anything where I got to be a bitch before. So it was exciting.
The cast is already so well established, there's such great chemistry between them all, how was it - did you find it was instant working chemistry with them or did it take a little bit of time for you all to become sort of bonded?
Hilary Duff: You know what? It was pretty instant which is nice. Everyone on the set is so, so kind and was really welcoming towards me. And the great part was that I wasn't a nice character. So it wasn't like I needed to sit in and be funny with them. You know what I mean? My character was kind of against all of them. So I didn't feel pressured to have to like have that funny - what's the word I'm looking for? That connection, like that closeness that they all have. My character was like the bitchy mean girl at school. And so she wasn't a part of them. So it was easy to kind of jump in there. And they're so funny anyway that my part was easy. I don't know, it fit. It was easy to walk in there and do it.
Why do you think people keep tuning in to watch Community?
Hilary Duff: It's a hilarious show. I mean, I don't know if you've ever seen it, but the characters are really quirky and it has a very unique storyline. I mean, they're - it's such a mix of age ranges that are going to this Community college. And lots of funny things happen. So I think people enjoy the characters, the cast is dead on, they're really, really good. And it's unique.
You've always been more of a role model to young girls. Do you take that into consideration when you choose your roles?
Hilary Duff: I did for awhile. It was very important to me, you know, that my fan base was young and kind of growing up with me and I wanted to be responsible, like a responsible role model for them. But I don't think it was too much of a stretch from who I was in my real life. You know, I wasn't trying to be something that I wasn't. And obviously, as I was growing up, you know, I was trying to choose age appropriate roles and then I kind of stopped caring so much about what people would write about me or how people would perceive me in this part or that. Because you have to grow as a person and do it on your own time, you know, and that goes for work choices as well. But I think I was pretty good at, you know, making my path and, you know, not causing too much controversy, so still, you know, being a good role model for young people that were looking up to me.
Hilary Duff: You know what is funny, is Haylie and her boyfriend Nick love The Soup and so I think that she has pretty thick skin and didn't care so much. But when I saw Joel McHale, I was like, 'I'm just going to push you down, like, I just need to, it just needs to happen, I can push you down really fast.' And then say, 'Thanks for having me on your show.' But he was like, 'Oh, no, what did I say about you? Or your sister? I don't know, I don't know.' But he's usually pretty good to us, so it wasn't that big of a deal. But he's very funny and I actually didn't get to have that many scenes with him, which was sad, but...
I just wanted to ask you, you said that you were a fan of the show. Who's your favorite character on the show?
Hilary Duff: Definitely Ken Jeong's character, I think he's so funny. He has so much fun with it, like when we were filming, he just goes above and beyond like, what he would have to do to be funny and I just - I love the commitment that he has for the role and just, he's such a nice person. Talking to him, he's really smart but super, super funny and I mean the whole cast made it a really good experience for me, but he was - he's so funny.
Do you think like, how do you think Lizzie McGuire would kind of fit in with the Community crowd? Do you think she'd join up with the core group or...?
Hilary Duff: Well, I don't know, you know, the whole premise of that show was that she didn't fit into any crowd. And she was kind of just nice to everyone and stayed neutral and that got her in trouble a lot of the time. So I think she would kind of fit in with the outcasts, I guess.