What's better than breakfast meat and smoother than the jazz stylings of Duke Silver? That'd be Nick Offerman, the Parks and Recreation star who so brilliantly embodies Ron Swanson — director of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department and proud libertarian. As the sitcom winds down Season 3, we plied the deadpan actor with cocktails for a peek behind the moustache.
TV Guide Magazine: You were 38 when you got your big break. What took the suits so long?
Offerman: For years, I was testing for shows and the networks would be like, "Eh... He talks too slow, he's too intense, and he's kind of weird." Finally, I found these writers at Parks and Rec that can capitalize on exactly those attributes. Now the network says, "This guy talks too slow, he's really intense, and he's really weird. We love him!"
TV Guide Magazine: You and Amy Poehler (Leslie Knope) were both actors in Chicago in the early 1990s. Did you ever cross paths?
Offerman: We were buddies, but we never saw each other work. Later it was like, "Oh! I had no idea when we were getting burritos that you were a legend."
TV Guide Magazine: Hipsters have appropriated ironic moustaches as a kind of badge. Thoughts?
Offerman: I find it fascinating, but a bit weird. Because while I can get behind the ironic moustache and hipster aesthetics, Ron's moustache is 100-percent sincere American moustache — it's built Ford tough. The quality has gone in before the name goes on it.
TV Guide Magazine: How much affection do you have for your alter ego?
Offerman: Ron is beautiful because he lives his life by a simple set of rules, and that's a cartoony fictionalized version of my own philosophy. He has something people don't have anymore, which is a simple life. Ron is never checking his Facebook profile or playing Call of Duty or reading Maxim.
TV Guide Magazine: What kind of set is Parks and Rec? Is it as fun as it looks?
Offerman: It is. Obviously, Amy is our team captain — it's like having Michael Jordan, if he was a sunshine-filled blonde lady — and the rest of the cast kills me. Chris Pratt [Andy Dwyer] and I play guitar. If I need to know something about hip-hop or what movies are hot, I go to Aziz Ansari [Tom Haverford] or Aubrey Plaza [April Ludgate].
TV Guide Magazine: Sample question?
Offerman: "Aziz, is 50 Cent a person?"
TV Guide Magazine: Your real-life wife, Megan Mullally, guest stars occasionally as your evil ex, Tammy. Did you rehearse those frantic makeout scenes?
Offerman: It was Megan's idea: We went out in our yard and practiced violent tomfoolery. Offensive canoodling. Our existing healthy relationship helped us take things to a level that any other actor and myself could never go to, simply out of politeness.
TV Guide Magazine: On a scale of 1-10, how "Hollywood" are you as a couple?
Offerman: A .37. We do a ton of coke and then read Dostoyevsky. No, we're superboring. I love woodworking, she loves decorating our house.
TV Guide Magazine: Your show seems to keep gaining momentum with fans.
Offerman: This is one of those shows that people need to be given permission to find on their own. Like, "Dudes, I've been sticking with Parks and Recreation, and guess what? It got awesome!" We're showing no signs of slowing down. Just wait, you guys!
Parks and Recreation airs Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c on NBC.
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