With its second season finale arriving on May 17th, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has emerged in just two years as one of the funniest shows on TV, bringing the sharp wit that creators Dan Goor and Michael Schur perfected on The Office and Parks and Recreation to Sunday nights on Fox. The show is helped in no small measure by one of the strongest comedic ensembles in recent memory, including Andy Samberg as perennial man-child Detective Jake Peralta, Melissa Fumero as Jake’s crush/colleague, perfectionist Amy Santiago, and Andre Braugher as their unflappable Captain Raymond Holt. I chatted with Samberg and Fumero recently about how their characters have evolved since we first met them, and what the future holds…
NERDIST: What’s in store for Jake as this season draws to a close?
ANDY SAMBERG: I help in the editing, so my brain is so scrambled in terms of the order. We shot one last week, and then I cut a new one tonight, and then the other one’s gonna air tomorrow. So I’m trying to remember what is what… That was a pretty good humblebrag right there. [Laughs.] I’m pretty involved… To be honest, I could disappear and the show would still be incredible. But it’s really nice. Goor is really great at collaborating — [executive producers] Dan Goor and Mike Schur — and they bring me into the fold a lot. They really take my thoughts seriously. I feel like I’m able to affect the show a lot on set, and I have so much experience in that from SNL and doing the shorts. It makes it really fun for me.
N: How will Jake’s love life fare by the end of this season?
AS: It’s gone through some peaks and valleys. But I feel like that’s the only thing I’m not allowed to talk about. Because that’s all we have. Let’s be honest. [Laughs.]
N: How would you say the relationship between Jake and Holt has changed? In the beginning it was antagonistic, but Holt quickly became a surrogate dad to Jake. Where do you see it now, and where do you see it heading?
AS: I think it’s ever fluctuating, you know? The cool thing about the show is that, in my opinion, the characters are so well drawn by the writers that even when they make progress they still have their ruts that they get in, just like real people. So they’ll jump ahead a bunch of steps through the force of extreme and intense events, that call for action and maturity and those sorts of things. But then once it settles down they kind of revert a little just as well do. So certainly the surrogate father thing is in play. Certainly the contentious power struggle is in play. But also an ever-growing respect I think is the ultimate growth for them.
AS: I shot an HBO Special [7 Days in Hell], a mockumentary with Murray Miller, who’s a writer on Girls. We wrote it and we’re producing it. It’s me and Kit Harington, Jon Snow on Game of Thrones. I’m not sure when it’s gonna air. But we’re editing it now and really loving it. It’s like a fake 30 for 30, or Fire & Ice, the McEnroe/Borg documentary. It’s kind of in that vein, but comedy obviously. There’s that, and then me and Akiva [Schaffer] and Jorma [Taccone], the Lonely Island guys, are working on a movie for Judd Apatow that hopefully we’re gonna make. We’re just waiting to see.
N: We’ll be looking for it.
N: Thanks, Andy. We love the show.
AS: I love Nerdist!
N: Has Amy become more relaxed around Holt this season?
MF: I think their relationship has definitely evolved. She’s gone from worshiping him but also being terrified of him and just wanting to be so, so perfect for him to… She still worships him, and loves him so much, but she’s more comfortable with him. She’s more confident in herself I think. And their relationship, the dynamic there, has grown a little bit. I mean there will always be that mentor-mentee relationship, but… For “The Payback” it was really fun to shoot those scenes where we’re on a stakeout together. The writers are starting to explore all these different colors in their relationship. Now these two people know each other, so it can’t be awkward all the time. Because they work together every day. So what else is there in that relationship? It’s been really fun for me, every time I get a script with the Amy and Holt stuff, to see it definitely moving forward and where else it goes.
N: With her increased confidence, do you think she’s become a little more laid-back, or do you think she’s still that kid has to get straight A’s?
MF: She will always be that kid that has to get straight A’s. [Laughs.] And she will always be Type A. But I feel like they’re definitely starting to explore and mess with that a little bit. Like, what happens when Amy gets drunk? What happens when Amy gets out of her comfort zone? So it’s been really fun to play that. And yeah, I think that she’s also getting way more confident in her work and what her goals are. She’s standing up for herself a little bit more, you know? Baby steps. It’s all baby steps with Amy. That’s the brilliance of Mike and Dan and our writers, fleshing out these great characters and then growing them. Nobody ever stays stuck in one place on the show. That’s the most exciting thing about being on a Schur and Goor show.
N: Does the show’s writing allow much room for improv?
MF: Yeah, I mean that’s always a factor. Our scripts are so wonderful that we’ll improv and it’s just like adding things to the end of a scene. Because there’s really nothing in the scene that we feel could be better or added to. We don’t want to mess with it because the words are so good. But they definitely let us play it loose and ad-lib and improv. It depends on the scene.
N: Working with Andy, as time goes on, do you feel you guys play your scenes together funnier because you have a better sense of each other’s comic rhythm?
MF: Absolutely. I mean, I think that’s true of the entire cast, because we all really love each other. It’s a very open, collaborative environment. So anybody, whether it’s Andy or Chelsea or Joe, can come up to me and be like, “Hey, what if we did this? What if we added just a little bit?” “Yeah, let’s go for it. Let’s try it.” Yeah, definitely with Andy, when we work together now, we usually do a few takes as scripted and then we’ll sort of look at it and see, “Okay, where can we sort of loosen it up?” We’ll do some ad-libbing, and then towards the end, maybe in the last take or two, we’ll get really loose with it or try new jokes with the writers. That’s kind of become our process with Jake and Amy scenes.
N: Do you break up a lot while shooting?
MF: I lose it a lot. In “Beach House”, when I had to tell Rosa that I could still see her “things” — “Gotta cover up them thangs. P.S. you can still see them.” She kept breaking during rehearsal, and then I just couldn’t get through the line. Playing Amy and saying that ridiculous line, and then her stone-cold face… She was giving me this great side eye. It was really hard. I think we only did a few takes because that line was so funny. [Laughs.]
N: Thank you so much, Melissa.
MF: Thank you so much!
The season finale of Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs tonight (that’s Sunday, May 17th) at 8:30pm ET/PT on Fox.