Angelina Jolie and Jim Rash (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)When one of the recipients of the Best Adapted Screenplay award mimicked presenter Angelina Jolie's leg-exposing stance, it was one of the funniest moments of the night. But fans of the show "Community" already knew that writer/actor Jim Rash knows how to get big laughs by making a spectacle of himself.
Yes, one of the co-writers of George Clooney's Best Picture-nominated drama has a day job as the flamboyant, costume-clad Dean Pelton on the NBC sitcom "Community." He and his writing partner Nat Faxon -- himself an actor who has appeared in comedies like "Beerfest" and "Walk Hard" -- adapted the novel "The Descendants" by Kaui Hart Hemmings along with director Alexander Payne. The three of them each took home an Oscar statuette for their work.
So how did a funny guy like Jim Rash end up writing a comic-but-dramatic script for someone like George Clooney? Well, Rash and Faxon have been writing together since they met while performing for L.A.'s legendary sketch comedy group The Groundlings. A TV pilot they created called "Adopted" was shot in 2006 but wasn't picked up as a series. Then they wrote a screenplay called "The Way, Way Back" that has not yet been made into a film. But the mix of comedy and drama in their script brought them to the attention of Alexander Payne, who previously won an Oscar in 2005 for writing "Sideways."
Rash as the Dean on 'Community' (Photo: NBC/Mitchell Haaseth)Rash told the Pop My Culture podcast Payne hired him and Faxon in 2007 to adapt the novel when he was planning to just produce the film. Their script made the "Black List" of best unproduced scripts in Hollywood. But when the original director Stephen Frears dropped out, Payne took the reins and reworked the screenplay.
Rash admitted that he's not the first guy you'd think would be behind an Oscar-caliber film. He said on the podcast that he could imagine people asking themselves, "How [did] the guy who dresses in dresses on a regular basis... have anything to do with this?" But fans of "Community" shouldn't worry that he'll be leaving Greendale behind now that he's an Academy Award winner. After being a recurring cast member during the first two seasons of the sitcom, he was made a series regular for the third. So you'll see him when "Community" returns on March 15. And don't be surprised if the Dean wears a knock-off of Angelina's thigh-revealing black dress in a future episode.
Watch Jim Rash in a clip from NBC's "Community":