Fast food has taken over America, and it’s safe to say Nick Offerman is not lovin’ it.
“I feel like, really, Western Civilization has been going to hell in a handbasket since the Industrial Revolution in terms of blindly consuming whatever colorfully wrapped sandwich that we’re handed,” Offerman told The Huffington Post.
The actor stars in the based-on-a-true-story tale “The Founder,” alongside Michael Keaton and John Carroll Lynch. The movie reveals how McDonald’s “founder” Ray Kroc (Keaton) swindled the McDonald brothers out of their own restaurant and created an empire, not caring who got in the way. It’s a story that often gets compared to Donald Trump’s.
“I feel like exposing the true story of the origin of the McDonald’s company as envisioned by Ray Kroc is part of the breakdown, the erosion, of some of that consumerist blindness ... to have a small role in communicating those true stories to the public is very meaningful to me,” said Offerman.
The actor isn’t a McDonald’s fan (if that wasn’t clear enough), but that didn’t stop him from sharing McNuggets of wisdom with HuffPost in honor of the movie, which is now coming out on DVD.
Ray Kroc in “The Founder” gets a lot of Donald Trump comparisons.
It took [the filmmakers] 10 years from the time they had the idea to actually get into production. So, when we shot the movie it was still before the campaign started, so we really had no idea that we were making a Donald Trump analogy, but it certainly came home once it all worked out and telling this story of an American capitalist who was very successful without ever putting much substance into his product. He was a showman who slapped his name on the right buildings and ended up taking millions of people for a ride.
What would Ron Swanson say about Donald Trump?
I can’t fully speak for Ron Swanson because smarter people than me were writing that role to which I was but a contributor, so I asked Mike Schur, our head writer, what the answer to the question was, and he said that Ron would think very little of anybody that made the transition from business to politics. That would be his main vote against the orange one. But also, Ron was a great respecter of all people ... especially women, so he would really think Trump was shameful because his behavior is so demonstrably disrespectful of women.
Do you ever go to McDonald’s?
The funny thing is, probably once or twice a year because I’m a touring artist. Once or twice a year, it’ll be one in the morning, and I’ll be dizzy because I missed my dinner. There’s no choice but to hope that I see a McDonald’s along whatever freeway I’m driving on through Manitoba. And when I do that, I try to get a Filet-O-Fish. To my understanding, that’s one of the less offensive [items]. I’m a huge fan of a burger, but I prefer my burgers to have a meat product known as beef in them, and those McDonald’s sandwiches don’t really fit.
But what are your thoughts on the McRib?
Because of my proclivities, I’m pretty unfamiliar with the McRib. I remember the McRib of my youth that was like a molded patty that looked like it had ribs in it, so I think it would be safe to say that I would look down upon the McRib.
Yeah, that’s pretty much what it is.
That’s a great example of what people will blindly accept. “Oh, it’s some sort of rib-flavored product. Delicious!” And in the last two or three decades there’s been a growing awakening of, “Wait a minute. What the hell’s actually in this?” Especially concerning the chemicals that fast food has traditionally relied on. In “The Founder,” there’s that great scene where Ray Kroc says, “Hey, we’ll make a lot more money if we don’t have any milk in our milkshakes and make them out of these powder emulsifiers.” That’s kind of the crux of the situation. The McDonald brothers were simply interested in the integrity of their food, which I think if you’re going to open a restaurant business, I would think you’d want to feed your customers healthy products. But Kroc was more interested in making a dollar than decency.
Ron Swanson’s love of the Paunch Burger didn’t influence you taking this role?
No, I feel like Ron was much less discerning. I’m not sure if he ever checked how many carbs were in a sandwich, even once in his lifetime.
So you’ve never gone into a restaurant and actually ordered all the eggs and bacon?
I perform a song at the moment entitled “I’m not Ron Swanson,” and the lyrics detail the ways in which Ron’s liver and digestive system were created in a writers’ room, while mine is controlled by Mother Nature. So I have to look for the occasional cantaloupe and Ron’s scotch intake would be my doom.
Do you ever have the Nick Offerman yule log playing in your own home?
I do not. Everything I create, whether it’s filmed entertainment or just recorded stuff, I don’t ever see it again because I’m not that good-looking, so I can’t account for the fact that other people like to look at it.
But why should people look at “The Founder”?
First and foremost, it’s as good as anything Michael Keaton’s done. I think it’s pretty criminal that he wasn’t in the Oscar race. I think he’s astonishing as Ray Kroc, and John Carroll Lynch, who plays my brother, I feel the same way about. I would’ve nominated him for supporting actor.
We all have some experience with McDonald’s and fast food, but I think it’s imperative to see how these businesses got started, and it wasn’t, “We love to see you smile.” They didn’t start the business to give our kids a nice place to come get a meal with a toy. It’s an important thing to know about American capitalism. There are so many businesses that, on the surface, lead us to believe that they have our best interests at heart, and we come to find out that they are actually some very rich white folks that are more concerned about their purse strings other than our arteries.
Do you think that’s what happened with the Pepsi commercial debacle?
It seemed like a rather colorblind play trying to sort of capitalize on this spirit of activism that is in the forefront right now, and using that for financial gain. I think anybody with some common sense would’ve said, “Eh, might not be a good idea.” Similarly in the news, that Nivea had a slogan that said, “White is purity,” and that may be true of their lotion, but the fact that that made it into the public in this incredibly divisive time was kind of dunderheaded, as we would say in my house.
”The Founder” is out on Blu-ray and DVD.