Nick Offerman, who is best known for playing Ron Swanson on the hit television comedy "Parks and Recreation," is a surprisingly tough interview. Not, however, for the reasons that usually make an interview subject difficult. What makes Offerman challenging is just the way he deadpans every line, making it near impossible not to laugh. It's like getting your own private comedy show, which isn't supposed to be the point. (I suspect that he's not even trying to be funny, he just is funny.)
Offerman is promoting "We're The Millers," a surprisingly raunchy R-rated comedy about a drug dealer (Jason Sudeikis), who hires a stripper (Jennifer Aniston) and two teenagers (Emma Roberts and Will Poulter) to pose as his family as he tries to smuggle a lot of marijuana into the United States from Mexico. Offerman plays Don Fitzgerald, a mild-mannered vacationer who befriends David and his family, but who also just happens to be a DEA agent.
Ahead, Offerman explains what it's like to "ear fuck" Jason Sudeikis and why it caused him to "puke snot." He also discusses the recently announced departures of Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe from "Parks and Recreation" and how this now puts him in the "top-eight handsomest actors" on the show. And what it's like to work with Chris Pratt on a daily basis now that Pratt is a superhero. (Body limbs twisted into pretzels are involved.)
Based on your alternate titles from last time, I still have trouble not referring to "The Kings Of Summer" as "Pussy Time."
Yes, I see no reason why we shouldn't call it that.
And I promise not to bring up the Chicago Cubs' record this time.
Oh, we're coming back. Don't worry.
Especially after the Cardinals seven game losing streak.
No, that is a nice consolation; thank you.
So you do find joy in that?
Oh, absolutely. Hope springs eternal.
As for "We're the Millers," I feel the world needed a "Nick Offerman fights with a coffee mug" scene.
I was so astonished the first day I climbed into that RV and our excellent prop man named Don had placed that gigantic coffee mug that was just -- I mean, what symbolizes America more than a half-gallon size coffee mug?
That coffee mug got laughs on its own.
As is my way, I quietly took note of the prop and then we started doing the scene. And I casually, in the middle of the scene, raised my mug and took a sip. And they had to stop the camera because everybody was like, "What in the world is that incredible globe of beverage?" And the prop quickly overshadowed the rest of my character, so it naturally made its way into the fight scene.
Are you disappointed being overshadowed by a prop?
Not at all. The prop is three times the comedian I am.
Between "We're the Millers" and "Case di mi Padre," you're cornering the market on playing DEA agents.
You know, in the '80s, actors made their names playing serial killers and then cops. So maybe the new flavor is to play DEA agents and then play stoners?
That could be my new calling.
I'd pay money to see you play a stoner.
There, but for the grace of God, go I. I think it would not be a stretch.
After this summer of excess, I think people might be in the mood for a rated-R comedy.
When "We're the Millers" came along, I just was tickled pink. And the first time we sat down and did a table read with Jason and Jen, I thought, oh, this is going to be really good. This is incredibly good casting for these two. And then when they rounded that out with Emma [Roberts] and Will [Poulter] and Kathryn Hahn and Ed Helms, then it just seems like it'd be tough to screw it up.
Using the term from the movie, you got to "ear fuck" Jason Sudeikis. Was that a planned thing?
That was actually a rider in my contract. It was a little general, but I was guaranteed to insert a finger into Jason at some point. The point of entry was not specified, but you should see what they didn't use.
In the end credits they showed it go a little bit further with Jason reaching down.
Oh, good. I didn't know that. I pride myself on keeping a straight face, but during that improv -- and it kept going on and on -- and I was doing that to his ear, Jason said, "Stop it, you're going to make me pop." And I puked snot all over everybody.
I hope you puking snot is included as a deleted scenes on the DVD.
I hope so. Yeah, it's so fun to do -- and Jason is so wickedly funny. He's such a smart, funny leading man, and I think this movie is going to do him a lot of good, because the casting is perfect. He's so misanthropic but so lovable and charismatic at the same time.
I think with him just leaving "SNL," I think it's a really good movie for him.
I do too. I couldn't agree more. There were touches of people like Chevy Chase in his better days in Jason's charisma. It was really fun to watch him play that role.
I actually thought at times This reminds me of Chevy Chase in the original "Vacation." And I say that as the highest compliment.
Yeah, exactly. You have to qualify when you refer to Chevy, unfortunately. But yeah, and some early Bill Murray, as well. You know: a leading man who acts in the most reprehensible manner, but you can't help but adore.
An interesting thing happened at the screening I attended. When your character introduces himself as DEA, a woman a few rows in front of me screamed at the top of her lungs, "Oh, no!"
[Laughing] That is hilarious! Well, I think that's hats off to [director] Rawson Thurber for making us fall in love with the lead characters, who are criminals, so far gone that she would scream, "Oh, no!" when the law -- when the forces of right -- appear.
A big story this week is that Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe are leaving "Parks and Rec." When did you find that out? Do they bring the cast in and say, "Hey, we've got an announcement," or do they tell you in private?
You know, things like that are sensitive and need to be carefully guarded just because that kind of information in the wrong hands can be misinterpreted. But we found out pretty recently. Our boss lets us know in a gentle, loving way that there's going to be some changes. And it's a sad thing. We have such a happy, successful family. And so, on one hand, we're very saddened to send a couple of our siblings off to a bright future. But, on the other hand, I'm astonished that we've all stayed together this long -- because our cast is just such a crazy all-star team. I mean, all of those bright talents have so many opportunities pulling them in every direction. And so, rather than look at it as a tragedy, I look at it as a great victory that we managed to pull off 90 episodes together. And they're going to do another 13. And so, I'm very happy that we've kept both of them around so long. The real bummer, and my response to the rest of the cast was, unfortunately, our show just got 65 percent less good-looking. The good news is, I jumped up a couple slots, so ...
And we might get to see even more Ron Swanson?
Well, perhaps. I mean, Ron is a sauce best served in moderation. But I am excited. I mean, I think it'll probably create room for more stories and probably some fun new characters. I'm just excited to move up to the top-eight handsomest actors on the show.
The worst thing is when characters that an audience likes just disappear. Thirteen episodes seems like a good amount to say goodbye.
Oh, absolutely. And our boss Mike Schur is so brilliant at taking information -- several times throughout our show's lives, he has suspected that we might only have 13 episodes left, or this might be the last season. And he's so genius and clever at weaving the story so that it brings a satisfying, pleasing conclusion just in case that's the end of the story. And so, I'm sure he'll treat their departure with the same love and respect.
What is your opinion of Chris Pratt around the set now that he's a superhero in a Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy"?
It's a little unnerving. He keeps picking me up over his head and then twisting my limbs into a pretzel shape and then untwisting. And it was funny the first couple times, then I was like, "Chris, please." You know, in my life, I've met a lot of wonderful talented and beautiful people, and Chris Pratt has to take the cake. There's nothing that he could do that would surprise me. He is so talented as a dramatic actor, as a comedian, obviously. But also he's just such a beautiful man. He's full of love and he's generous and kind. And annoyingly, also dashingly good-looking.
And he's very in shape right now.
Yes, he has gone through the ringer of the action hero machine and come out the other side ripped like a comic book character, and it suits him well. He looks incredible. I had him make a bicep for me the other day and it looked like somebody had put a large navel orange into his arm.
Well, I hope to keep seeing you popping up in movies. It's always a treat.
I'm having a really good time and I feel incredibly lucky, so I hope that they'll continue to have me around.
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.