Richard Erdman, aka Leonard Rodriguez (or Leonard Briggs), was a surprise guest at the Paleyfest 2013 “Community” panel, and drew a raucous response from an appreciative audience for his role in the “History 101” table read.
Before taking the stage at the Saban Theater, Erdman chatted with Zap2it about working with such screen legends as Marlon Brando and … Joel McHale.
“That’s a hard comparison; I like both of them a lot,” says Erdman. “Marlon and I worked on his first picture that he did. It was called ‘The Men.’ And I met him, and he was very, very distant because he was convinced that Hollywood was a crock. And he had come out from New York. He had been in [‘A Streetcar Named Desire’] back there. I got to know him, and he eventually moved in and stayed with me for five weeks.”
Erdman already had more than 20 screen credits under his belt when he took Brando under his wing. At 87-years-old, his acting career has spanned seven decades. And anyone who watches NBC on Thursday nights knows Erdman now spends a great deal of time harassing Jeff Winger (McHale) and his study group partners as Greendale Community College.
“Of course Joel is just a darling and a very cool fellow,” Erdman says of McHale. “He was the most appreciative when I first came to the show. He came over and wished me well and said, ‘We’re going to see a lot of you.’ And I thought … that surprised me. And he was right.”
Erdman first appeared on “Community” in its fifth episode. And, forget about doubts over a fourth or fifth season, he’s still pleasantly surprised the show continued past Season 1. “Actually I didn’t know it was going to be a series at all,” says Erdman. “But it’s worked out very well.”