When viewers last saw Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation, he was eyebrow-less and running scared from first wife Tammy 1. Nick Offerman promises that in the beginning of Season 4 (Thursday, 8:30/7:30, NBC) "fans will go through a roller-coaster ride of emotion with Ron's facial hair." No, really. Just wait. TVGuide.com quizzed Offerman about the state of his popular 'stache, what he thinks of the Ron Swanson phenomenon, and why Tammy 1 was once attractive to a young Ron. Plus, he tells us whether we'll see more of his woodworking skills or his smooth alter ego Duke Silver.
Many TV critics considered your lack of an Emmy nomination a major snub. Still, the show was up for Best Comedy Series, which had to feel good. There was also Amy Poehler's impassioned remark about your being left out.
Offerman: Megan and I were driving from Austin to Los Angeles when I heard what Amy said, and I thought, "That's why I would follow her into the gates of hell." I really, really was hoping that the show would get that kind of recognition because, of course, we all think that it's the smartest comedy that ever existed. I think Megan and I had celebratory huevos rancheros somewhere in New Mexico. I got extra chorizo on mine.
Ron Swanson has become something of an Internet superstar. There's Cats Who Look Like Ron Swanson. Eater made his burger with a turkey leg in it. His face has been used to hawk bacon at Trader Joe's. Many animated GIFs...
Offerman: My being cast as Ron Swanson, the most prevalent effect of that is that my mother is much more savvy at Google alerts. Megan and I are very low-tech. We're kind of Luddites.
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You don't ever indulge? You have to have a favorite fan-made Ron Swanson creation.
Offerman: My best friend is a really funny, weird artist and he comes to my woodshop a lot. If I'm going to indulge in some sort of Ron Swanson item, it's usually witting with him in the furniture shop. I think a lot of my favorite stuff has been the really crazy portraits of Ron. To me, those are by far the coolest because someone takes the savory flavor of Ron and turns it into a whole other work of art. My face selling bacon didn't feel bad, either.
It's not often we see Ron melt, but he melted at the sight of Li'l Sebastian. Explain their connection.
Offerman: Well, Li'l Sebastian was a heroic figure to Ron. He was a simple little horse, and he sort of lived Ron's ideal life. Ron would like to just be adored, be incredibly well-hung and have his fill every day of both oats and lady horses.
What can you tell us about the story arc for Ron's facial hair this season?
Offerman: Gosh, I can't remember. I either had a really bad dream where Ron's facial hair goes through some trauma, or yeah, Ron's moustache might run afoul in one way or another. I'm not privy to a lot of that information. My facial hair has a different agent. I work, like, one day every three days that my moustache works.
Parks and Recreation scoop: Ron's facial hair, Tammy 1, Leslie's big decision and more!
Last season, we learned that both Ron and Tammy 2 are terrified of Tammy 1. How did they get together in the first place?
Offerman: Without giving away any spoilers, I think it would be safe to say that they were in an older lady-younger fellow situation. And you'd have to be a eunuch to resist the temptations of the older woman, especially when portrayed by Patricia Clarkson. We're actually friends with Patty and the night the deal was made, Megan and I had a drink with her to celebrate. Sitting there, looking at the two of them was so surreal. I still feel like a bit of a freshman. I feel like I've just arrived at my first job, so to be sitting with these two beauties and playing a man who's been married to both of them really sent me for a loop.
One of the moving moments last season was Ron's birthday, when Leslie reveals that it was on Ron's advice that she stayed in Pawnee. Why do you think Ron is so supportive of Leslie?
Offerman: Working side by side with someone whose energy is as infectious as Leslie Knope ... let's just say, if Ron had seen it coming, he would have moved to a different part of the state. Even though he doesn't believe in the actual ideals she's pursuing, he has to respect someone who simply has ideals and pursues them so ardently.
Are we going to see any more of Ron's woodshop handiwork?
Offerman: We are, in fact. I know of at least two episodes where we'll be treated to more of the wizardry of Ron's woodworking.
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And what about Duke Silver?
Offerman: It's funny. People ask about it a lot. I know we love Duke Silver, but it just all depends on what is going to be serving the particular story week in and week out. I think we will see Duke again, but only time will tell.
What's it been like on set? There was a lot of frustration last year when the show was shelved for midseason.
Offerman: Really, for the first time since the show was created, we're comfortable. I hate to even say it — knock on wood — but it seems like we get to at least have one comfortable season without having to be on the bubble or feel like we're going to be taken away at any moment. But even when we were frustrated, making shows in a vacuum, as long as we're making the show, everyone's really happy because it's so much fun.
What are you most looking forward to seeing this season of Parks and Recreation? How scary do you think Tammy 1 can possibly be?