Nick Offerman: A funny man with a plan on 'Parks'

By Frazier Moore

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 15 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

When coaching youngsters on another episode, Ron touted his Swanson Pyramid of Greatness, which places Honor at the top; Weapons, Woodworking and Welfare Avoidance not far below; and Living in the Woods, Capitalism and Handshakes among the elements of its foundation.

His marriages to his two ex-wives (both named Tammy) have not been so assured, including the ex, played by Mullally in a recurring guest role as the Pawnee Library director and devilish temptress who Ron is helpless to resist. But his vulnerability to certain women only makes him seem manlier: Even Samson succumbed to a woman's wiles.

In real life, Offerman has been married for a decade to Mullally (who joins the Fox comedy "Breaking In" when it returns for its second season next month) , "and we're still disgustingly affectionate and pretty crazy about each other."

Offerman's romantic life isn't the only evidence that he and Ron have their differences.

"I do love the outdoors, I do love woodworking," says Offerman, who after all, has the word "man" embedded in his own name. "But, unlike Ron, I get along in the modern world — I can send e-mails. And I'm much goofier than he is."

Like Ron, Offerman loves meat.

"I pay attention to my health. I exercise. But no," he chuckles dismissively, "I've never considered the merits of vegetarianism. If Nick Offerman got the Meat Tornado" — an enormous dish Ron savored every bite of in one memorable episode — "HE probably wouldn't finish it. But he'd enjoy the hell out of two-thirds of it."

The 41-year-old Offerman was born in Joliet, Ill., and, describing himself as "a simple guy," says he grew up well-grounded in a family of farmers and schoolteachers and firemen and nurses.

He studied drama at the University of Illinois, but found that the way to support his calling was to swing a hammer building scenery for the Chicago theater community.

After heading to Los Angeles, he was acting and doing scenery construction for a local theater company when he met Mullally, already famous for her role on the hit sitcom "Will & Grace."

"If you ever are trying to win a lady over," he advises, "letting her see you in your tool belt doesn't hurt."

They fell in love, moved in together and got married. And during that period when she was enjoying huge success and he was scrambling for roles, "Megan's faith in me saved me from a million bouts of depression. If she thought I was good, then I didn't care what a bunch of bankers at CBS said.

"Testing for roles," he recalls, "I would hear, 'You seem like you're a good actor, but you're a little scary, you talk too slow and you're a little weird.' But the stars aligned with 'Parks and Recreation': They found this guy who's scary, who talks too slow, and he's golden."

And as no disciple of Ron Swanson would deny, he's the man.




EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier

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