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Intelligence's Nick Mohammed Weighs In On David Schwimmer's Character - Exclusive

It's been a long time since David Schwimmer played the awkward love-interest Ross Gellar on "Friends," but if you haven't seen him in a sitcom lately, you haven't been paying attention. Since 2020, Schwimmer has been a key player on "Intelligence," a British comedy created by and co-starring "Ted Lasso" actor Nick Mohammed.

On "Intelligence," Schwimmer plays Jerry Bernstein, a hot-headed NSA agent who serves as a liaison to the UK's leading cyber crimes unit. Unlike Ross, Jerry is selfish, foul-mouthed, and has an ego that knows no bounds. He's basically the opposite of Schwimmer's classic "Friends" character. According to Mohammed, that's by design.

"You can't help but empathize with [Schwimmer]. He almost always has that look behind his eyes, that presents itself in Ross," Mohammed tells Looper. "I just loved writing the antithesis of Ross and making him swear, making him really brash, making him really quite right-wing, basically. It was really fun to play into all of the things that aren't Ross about his character."

It's a role that Mohammed wrote specifically for Schwimmer. The two comedians met while filming a pilot, also written by Mohammed, and discovered through improv that they were well-matched, comedically. "David and I really enjoyed playing the dynamic where he was quite alpha and brash and I was quite shy and British," Mohammed says.

And, really, that's the heart of "Intelligence." On the show, Schwimmer's Jerry and Mohammed's quiet and inept analyst, Joseph, couldn't be more different. And yet, as the series goes on — particularly its recently released 2nd season — a real bond forms between the two characters. They aren't alike, but in an odd way they understand each other better than anyone else.

Nick Mohammed explains why David Schwimmer is the only actor who could play Jerry

In addition to making Jerry into the anti-Ross, Mohammed, who writes every episode of "Intelligence," takes great pains to lean into what he thinks is Schwimmer's biggest gift: his aptitude for physical comedy, which he honed for years as an improv comic.

"He is so good at that kind of proper clowning around, the old-school stuff ... I was always trying to think, in every scene, 'Is there a funny physical thing that David could do during this?'" Mohammed says. "In fact, there was probably even more silliness that I put in than made it to the final cut, because sometimes it was just too much."

Schwimmer will add in his own touches, too. Mohammed notes that Schwimmer is a huge collaborator on "Intelligence" during the writing phases, and says that the "Friends" star isn't afraid to ad-lib his own additions on set. "I just watched an episode from Season 2 the other night, and there's a bit where the camera's not really on him, but he's just eating an apple in the background," Mohammed remembers, laughing. "He eats an apple and then spits a bit of it out as if he's never tried an apple before, and it's this tiny thing."

While speaking with Mohammed, it's clear that he and Schwimmer have lots of affection for each other, which comes through on screen. "He's so quick. He's so great in the spur of the moment. He always goes above and beyond," Mohammed says.

Season 2 of "Intelligence" is streaming on Peacock now.