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posted: 10/26/2012 5:00 AM

'Parks and Recreation' actor shows off his creative side

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  • Nick Offerman, a veteran of the Chicago theater scene, juggles independent films with his role as Ron Swanson on NBC's "Parks and Recreation."

      Nick Offerman, a veteran of the Chicago theater scene, juggles independent films with his role as Ron Swanson on NBC's "Parks and Recreation."

 
By Alicia Rancilio
Associated Press

If you like Ron Swanson on NBC's "Parks and Recreation," then you'll like Nick Offerman, the actor who plays him.

Swanson is the director of the parks department in the Indiana town of Pawnee where "Parks and Recreation" is set.

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Offerman has the same deadpan delivery as his character, and he's a guy's guy, who loves carpentry. He has a wood shop in Los Angeles.

One way Offerman differs from his character: he's creative. Besides NBC's "Parks and Recreation," the 42-year-old actor has a live musical-comedy review, "American Ham," and a new independent film, "Smashed," starring Aaron Paul and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The film tells the story of a young alcoholic couple whose dynamic changes when one decides to become sober. Offerman's wife, Megan Mullally ("Will and Grace"), has a supporting role in the movie.

In an interview, Offerman talked about working with his wife, his role on "Parks and Recreation" and co-star Amy Poehler, and why he likes independent films.

Q. So you share a love of meat with your "Parks and Recreation" character?

A. I grew up in a part of the country where my dad every morning would get up and make us bacon and eggs. That was the fuel of life so long before I learned about cholesterol or my circulatory system in any way; I was already hooked on all pork and beef products.

Q. Some couples don't like to work together. How is it OK for you and your wife, Megan Mullally?

A. I think the accepted rule of thumb is that you don't bring your marriage to the workplace, but we feel very lucky that for some reason I think it's important that we both are successful. If one of us wasn't succeeding, I think that would make a difference in the paradigm, but we both are getting to exercise our own weird muscles, and we're able to leave our egos out of it. We love working as a team and I love to see her succeed and I'm very aware of how that helps me in our household. I love to plug Megan because you know she deserves a lot of kudos, but also because it's all in the family. She's such a comedy hero to me.

Q. What makes Megan so great comically is she just goes for it.

A. We met during a play in Los Angeles and I think that was our initial attraction to one another. ... That's where the best comedy lies, is making a total fool of yourself.

Q. Which of your cast mates on "Parks and Recreation" are so funny it's hard to do scenes with them?

A. It's so hard not to laugh at Amy. She's just so wickedly funny and I've had to develop this psychological trick where I pretend she's my sister. I have a couple sisters and there are reasons when you hate your sisters' guts ... where like in high school everyone loves one of them for some reason so you hate them because of their popularity. I try to get into this mindset where she's being so funny and I think to myself, 'Oh, you're so funny. Everyone loves you so much.' And I pretend she's my sister. It allows her humor to not affect me for a moment. But even that she batters through (laughs).

Q. What makes you enjoy independent film?

A. I grew up in a wonderful, large farm family in (Minooka) Illinois where we all pitch in to get the work done and pitch in to have a party or a meal and my whole life I've enjoyed collaborating with a group. I come from Chicago theater where we were literally never paid a cent through all those years but we were paid so richly in experience and fellowship and craft. Independent film reminds me of where the crew and budget is small enough that you can feel all of you making this piece of art together.

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