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David Schwimmer on the Fun of Playing a "Sexist, Pompous, Ignorant" American on Intelligence

The former Friends star dishes on his new Peacock comedy series and why the unlikable role is so "timely"

By Brett Malec Jul 08, 2020 3:18 PMTags
Related: David Schwimmer & Nick Mohammed Dish on "Intelligence"

It's safe to say David Schwimmer had some fun with his latest role!

On the actor's latest comedy series, Intelligence (premiering on Peacock July 15), Schwimmer plays Jerry Bernstein, an American NSA agent sent to work in Britain's cyber crime-fighting organization Government Communications Headquarters. The workplace comedy follows Bernstein and the inept team of "social misfits" (including co-star and show creator Nick Mohammed) he tries to assume power over.

"We have David's character, a somewhat brash, egotistical maverick, pompous American NSA agent, who's kind of coming in to work alongside the team," Mohammed told E! News exclusively. "He effectively disrupts the dynamic and the way they work."

Schwimmer says playing such an unlikable character was part of the fun.

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"That was what was so exciting to me about it, was the challenge of how do you take a guy like Jerry, this alfa male, conservative, racist, homophobic, sexist, pompous, ignorant, ultra-patriotic guy who's come over here to try to grab power...Thinks he being promoted but in fact is being demoted," Schwimmer explained. "And how do you take this guy and make him, not only likable, but how do you make him funny?"

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"I think we succeeded because we all worked really hard to make sure that any jokes that Jerry made, you realize that the laugh was always on him, because people could see so clearly how ignorant he is and you never really felt like anyone was ever seriously injured by a remark he would make or behavior he would do," Schwimmer continued. "It's really cathartic to play a guy like this because so many of these guys are in power right now in both our countries. And I would say it's a really timely character to be playing."

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Mohammed says he and the cast "always allowed ourselves a little bit of flexibility" when it came to improving lines.

"I would say probably 90 percent, 89 percent of the show is pretty much as it was written, but there are definitely moments and you can possibly tell with the slight glint in the eye where the moments are where we're improvising and probably trying not to laugh as a result," he told E!

Check out our interview above to hear move about Intelligence before it premieres on Peacock July 15!

(E! and Peacock are both part of the NBCUniversal family)