“Community” Stars Have a (Paint) Ball in The Finale

“Community” + Sergio Leone-inspired Paintball shootouts + guest star Josh Holloway = SOLD.

Only this show would have the cajones...or the hubris...or maybe just the meta-fixation to craft a two-part second season finale that serves as a sequel to “Modern Warfare,” the most popular episode of its freshman year, and mashes up some serious Spaghetti Western-style action with the laughs.

“The main feeling with everyone was excitement, because our paintball episode had been so epic and so well-received,” says co-star Alison Brie, who’s more front-and-center this time around (she took an early boob-blast last year). “But more than anything, paintball signifies us really just going balls to the wall, all out, above and beyond, and that’s what we do again this time. Hearing that it was going to be a two-parter already upped the ante for us, so we were like ‘Oh, that’s so great – we’re going to have much more time to get in some better action and some interesting romance.’”

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The first episode in the season closer, “A Fist Full of Paintballs,” airs tonight on NBC, followed by the May 12 conclusion, “For a Few Paintballs More.” “The two parts are actually quite different,” says Brie.“It’s not just all flashy paintball action stuff. The finale definitely addresses that idea about certain people in the group having trouble with other people, and those feuds really come to a head in a major way in these last two episodes. And at the same time, you also see other people in the group really connecting in ways that they hadn’t been throughout the season. There’s really a lot of emotional stuff going on in these last couple episodes – and there’s a bit of a cliffhanger at the end!”

Co-star Yvette Nicole Brown tells PopcornBiz she was surprised the creators were willing to risk sequel-izing the show’s most beloved episode. “Dan Harmon and our executive producers are really gutsy guys,” says Brown. “Their thought was 'Yeah, we might take some flack for returning to this, but we're going to do it and we're going to do it better and different and people are going to enjoy it. So they thought it through, and I think they've created something really awesome.” Brown herself was happy to lock and load the Sherwin-Williams ammo again. “Shirley does have a pretty prominent role, and I would like to say that I’m a pretty good shot – I actually hit a stunt guy right in the eye.”

Brie says she ends up wearing more paint than wardrobe at times in the two-parter. “Annie certainly was wearing a lot less clothing than I usually wear!” she laughs. “She’s a girl who has been through a lot. When we catch up with Annie, pretty much at the beginning of the episode, she’s already been through quite a bit and the clothes were just slowing her down, so she had to just let them go.” Think bloomers and corsets, fellas. “Somehow I don’t think the male viewers are going to have a problem with the costume.”

And then there’s Josh Holloway, the chiseled, scruffy ‘Lost’ star who drifts into Greendale like a tumbleweed. “Josh’s character falls into this world and it immediately takes paintball to another level,” says co-star Danny Pudi. “We think that it's a typical paintball game, but once Josh Holloway's character comes and is involved – he plays a mysterious character – it's insane. It's hard not to be like 'Holy sh*t – Sawyer is playing paintball at Greendale!' He was incredible. We hung out all week and he was just really nice. He just fit so well into this world. This year definitely the stakes are way higher – way higher – in the paintball game.”

Brie got the most on-camera time with the handsome stranger, and she made the most of it. “We started doing the scene and as we were doing it, our writer was there and our director were sort of like ‘We’ve got to milk this chemistry,’” she says. “They ended up adding some lines and some moments for Josh and I later in that scene. I was like ‘Yes! Chemistry with Josh Holloway – nailed it!’”

“He was a really good sport about talking about ‘Lost’ with all of us,” says Brie. “And it only took us about 20 minutes before we just jumped right into, like, ‘So –what were you drinking when you were drinking from those Dharma beer cans?’ We just were ‘Lost’ nerds.”

And given “Community’s” mania for the meta-joke, you can count on some sort of sly Sawyer reference. “I remember even Josh giggling – as much as a masculine man can giggle – and was like ‘Oh, yeah, I should say this!’” says Brie. “We replaced one of his scripted lines to do a Sawyer nod, so we’ll see if the ‘Lost’ fans pick up on it.”

Indeed, Holloway had a profound effect on the ensemble. “All the girls, we were mush,” sighs Brown, and her co-star Gillian Jacobs says the ripples spread even further through the cast and crew. “Some of the men maybe had feelings that they never thought that they would have for a man – I think it awakened some things,” Jacobs laughs. “One of our hairdressers on the show – who's straight – said 'He's very handsome. I think I get it. He's a very, very attractive man. The bone structure is impeccable.’”

Co-star Chevy Chase hints that the Josh-man-love may even appear on screen. “I do something that will surprise everyone,” promises Chase. “I’m not saying that it will involve Josh, but I do."

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