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Q&A: Nick Offerman of 'Parks and Recreation'

Posted 11:07am on Tuesday, Sep. 06, 2011

Nick Offerman, a.k.a. Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation, loves his job so much he can hardly stand it. "Every time I'm handed a new script," he says, "I feel like a largemouth bass at a nightcrawler convention." We know the feeling. Any time there's a new episode of Parks and Rec on NBC, our hero worship of Ron Swanson grows. Ron is a government-hating, red-meat-eating macho man who sports the best mustache on television. Michael Schur, the creator and executive producer of the show, says the character was largely modeled after Offerman and his real-life rugged ways. But Offerman says he's got a softer side as well and he'd like to see that integrated into the show. "I have a penchant for the ballet," Offerman says with perfect deadpan delivery, "and I've been pitching the writers for a 'Ron Swan Lake' episode." Wouldn't that be a special episode! "Give me a chance," Offerman says. "I'll show you." Parks and Recreation begins its fourth season on Thursday, Sept. 22. The season 3 DVD set, meanwhile, is available on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Before we commence with the questions, allow me to say, rest in peace, Li'l Sebastian.

"Amen."

Ron Swanson has taken off in a big way. There are Ron Swanson worship sites on the Internet, for example. What's the secret to his popularity? Why do people love this grumpy guy so much?

"I'm still in a moment of silence for Li'l Sebastian. Just a second. … All right, I'm ready. To answer your question, I usually assume it's my musk that attracts people. I keep the dander to a minimum and I keep it clean. And I use just a little bit of hibiscus oil behind each shoulder."

Have you had a favorite moment as Ron Swanson?

"Probably the first one would be a phone call from Mike Schur telling me I got the job of playing Ron Swanson. Beyond that, that's a really tough question. This is such a plum role, it's really hard to choose favorite moments. If I started a list, we'd talk for an hour and a half. I love when I get to eat meat. I love when I get to dangerously make out with my wife to the point of destroying buildings and furniture."

Speaking of which, your real-life wife, Megan Mullally, plays Tammy, Ron's second wife, with whom he has a destructive love-hate relationship. What can you tell us about the arrival of Tammy 1?

"I think what the audience will be surprised to learn is that Tammy 2, played by Megan Mullally, the gorgeous Megan Mullally, may turn out to be the most kitten-like, timid woman of the Tammys. I am about as giggly as a schoolgirl to have landed in a position where I'm portraying a man who has made love to both Megan Mullally and Patricia Clarkson. That is a consummation devoutly to be wished."

With so many funny people on the show, is it hard to do scenes while keeping a straight face?

"In a word, yes. One of the hardest things about the job, when you are working with a cast of 10 home run hitters, it's simply tolerating their skill without busting out laughing. For me especially. When Ron is supposed to be unmoved, which is quite frequently, especially with Andy (played by Chris Pratt) or Leslie (Amy Poehler) just being the most amazing clown right up in my face, it can be really difficult. But at the same time, that's what makes the job so fun, because we're watching the funniest work going today."

That said, have there been any disappointments attached to working on the show?

"I will say that I put in a request that my catch phrase would be, 'It's clobbering time,' and I was told that that had already been taken."

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