Community will be losing a cast member, and it’s… the one that you were thinking: Chevy Chase. The 69-year-old actor, who stars as the wealthy, blundering and bigoted Pierce Hawthorne, is exiting the NBC ensemble comedy by mutual agreement, sources close to the show confirm. (Deadline first reported the news.)
It’s not exactly shocking news, as Chase has endured a rocky relationship with the series that he does not always speak warmly about. He engaged in a feud with series creator Dan Harmon that went public last year over an expletive-laced voicemail message that Chase left Harmon. (Harmon was dismissed from the show last spring.) Last month, production was interrupted when Chase, reportedly unhappy with the material he was shooting, used the N-word in an outburst while trying to make a point about the direction of his racist character.
After having its Oct. 19 premiere date postponed, Community finally returns to the air on Feb. 7 to kick off its fourth and possibly final season with 13 new episodes. Chase will appear in all but two of them — which have yet to be filmed — and he will be seen in the season finale, which has already been shot.
The new showrunners, David Guarascio and Moses Port, had sounded optimistic when talking about Chase earlier this fall. “The truth is we’ve had a very easy working relationship with Chevy, maybe just because it was so volatile before, there’s no fight left,” Guarascio told EW with a laugh. “We sat down, had a real nice lunch… And so it’s been really easy for us. He also says what he wants to say and does what he wants to do, and you just can’t control any of that aspect of it.”