After being away for a whole season, Harmon returns to Community with a season five premiere, “Repilot.” This episode contained a surprise cameo of Pierce Hawthrone, played by Chevy Chase.
Harmon explains to IGN who caught up with him before the premiere: “What the story needed was someone to turn [Jeff], and I did picture Pierce immediately because if he was still on the show, that’s exactly how we would use him, and it’s a greater fact that he was always at his best as this sort of hapless Obi-Wan or a cautionary tale or unintentional mentor – trying to be a mentor in one way, but actually inspiring in a different way.”
He continued his reasoning: “It just seemed like one of those big moments where it was like, “Man, I really miss having that Pierce character,” and I literally pictured him in my head like this Industrial Light & Magic ghost that would appear in front of Jeff and say, “Don’t do this. Go back.” Then I thought, “Okay, then how do we actually make that happen, logically?” The answer was, “Well, actually what you’re describing could just be a hologram, because it doesn’t need to be having a conversation with Jeff. He just needs to say something. He just needs to be a vision.” He can’t be a literal ghost, but he could be a hologram, because Pierce has money, and that seems like the kind of thing you associate with Pierce. ”
Chase left Community when Harmon was let go in 2012 before the fourth season.
Harmon told IGN: “I wasn’t there when Chevy departed, but I know he had a specific agreement with Sony in which the terms of his departure were contractual and there was an agreement on both sides. I don’t really know more details than that except to say that simply bringing him back would be a contractual issue.”
They got around this by having Chase shoot his cameo on a separate stage.
Harmon also stated that all issues between him and Chase have been resolved.
“I knew Chevy would be on-board because he’s an arch character, but I know that at the end of it all he always loved doing the show and would be more than willing to come back. He’s very passionate about making people laugh. So I texted him, and he said, “Absolutely, I’ll do it.”
In the season’s second episode, “Introduction to Teaching,” the Breaking Bad actor Jonathan Banks will play the role of Buzz Hickey, a new tough professor. Banks’ character fills the vacant slot of not only Chevy Chase, but also the lack of Donald Glover‘s character Troy Barnes, who is reportedly leaving the show after the fifth episode of the new season.
The show airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.