September 9th, 2011
07:36 AM ET
Spend some time on the phone with "Parks and Recreation" star Nick Offerman, and you're bound to hear sentences like, "That is a consummation devoutly to be wished," and "Every time I’m handed a new script, I feel like a largemouth bass at a night crawler convention."
Offerman has delighted fans of the NBC series - now heading into its fourth season in a mere two weeks, September 22 - by portraying Ron Swanson, Leslie's no-nonsense, libertarian boss.
To get an idea about his character, he kicked off last season by coming up with the "Swanson Pyramid of Greatness" which included bits of advice such as "Handshakes: Firm, dry, solid; 3 seconds" and "Skim milk: Avoid it."
The one thing which makes Ron's straitlaced personality almost unrecognizable is his ex-wife, Tammy (or "Tammy Two"), played by Offerman's real wife, Megan Mullally.
As we found out at the end of last season, Ron's other ex-wife, also named Tammy (or "Tammy One"), just showed up in Pawnee, Indiana, and Offerman told reporters about her in a recent conference call.
"I think what the audience will be surprised to learn is that Tammy Two may turn out to be the most kitten-like, timid women of the Tammys," he said. "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 [who is playing Tammy One]."
Executive producer Michael Schur dropped a few more hints about Clarkson's character. "The relationship she has with Ron is not a sort of hedonistic, animal attraction," he said. "They have a much different, more complicated, more kind of rich back story that we delve into."
Schur said that he didn't necessarily expect any of the show's characters to become breakout characters (to the point where a Tumblr blog exists called "Cats That Look Like Ron Swanson," for example).
"I might have, if I were a betting man, bet on Ron Swanson, only because he is played by Nick Offerman and has a big bushy mustache. I mean, I think that he’s a character who’s not that common on TV. He’s a big, strong man who doesn’t care about pop culture or the world around him. He’s sort of a 19th century individualist who likes to spend time alone in a cabin and hunt and stuff, and it’s just not a character you see a lot, especially in a comedy show."
Speaking of comedy, it would seem difficult to keep a straight face on the set - especially for a character who almost never laughs, like Ron - and Offerman confirmed that to be the case.
"One of the hardest things about the job, when you are working with a cast of ten home run hitters, it’s simply tolerating their skill without busting out laughing," he said. "For me especially, when Ron is supposed to be unmoved, which is quite frequently, especially in the face of Andy or Leslie just being the most amazing clowns right up in my face it can be really difficult. But at the same time, what makes the job so fun is when we do have a moment to break out and laugh at each other because we’re watching the funniest work going today."
Despite "Parks and Rec" and Amy Poehler being nominated for an Emmy this year, Offerman was a notable snub (in fact, Poehler called it "a hot load of bulls-"). But with Ron's character having such a big story arc early on this season, that could change.
When asked what else we might expect for the character, Offerman said, "Well, I have a penchant for the ballet, and I’ve been pitching the fellows for the whole time we’ve been in production for a Ron Swan Lake episode. And I haven’t heard of anything coming down the pike just yet, so..."
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