We're back, I'm Drew McGarry, and I'm David Roth. And coming in September 20 20, a new site we have built together called Defector Defector. And we're going to have a new podcast to go with it. This very podcast which has the name The Distraction. It's out right now and it's available everywhere. Podcast at Stitcher, Spotify, Apple, Goldson. Listen right now to the distraction everywhere. It's out right now. Go listen. See by.
Nicholas, hello there. Nick, I look at him. Are we in preproduction? We're in preproduction. I still I need a few touches, I think. No, you don't. Did you look thin and young? That's my thing.
That's those are my two categories when it comes to casting.
Hello and welcome to literally with Rob Lowe. I'm very excited today to have the amazing. Nick Offerman, a.k.a. Ron Swanson. Who is on the Mount Rushmore of television comedy, iconic characters, you can take your Steve Carell on the office, Fwy, Mr. Nick Offerman and Parks and Recreation is as iconic. A character, as you will ever see, he's funny, he's a good friend, we're going to have a great talk.
He hosted me on his podcast in bed with Nick and Megan with the great Megan Mullally. So if you haven't checked out his podcast, please do.
And by the way, if you've been enjoying this podcast, please post a review and subscribe. There's a little subscribe button. It's right there in front of you. All you got to do is hit it, and that way you don't need to worry about it. Every Thursday when you wake up, there's going to be little gift under the tree. For me, so please subscribe to our podcast and stand by. Nick Offerman. A lot of people don't know, Nicholas, that we're from the same part of the country, that we're good Midwestern boys, I always think Columbus.
But you're Dayton, right? I'm Dayton, Illinois. Right. Illinois. Yeah, Minooka. Now, did you so did you have the same kind of childhood I had? What was like. The minute the weather turned, the shoes came off. And you were just like barefoot and like that was like the height of it kind of I mean, it was it was very outdoors, but it was very rural. And my mom's family still to this day are all farmers.
And so it was very out in the woods riding bikes. The family raised pigs as well as corn and soybeans. So it was growing up like the greatest thing was as a kid was when you could go out in the field and help the guys. And then eventually, by age like 10 and 12, we're taught to drive the pickup truck and drive the tractor so that you can sort of while the guys are on the field, you can be hauling the full wagon back to the farm and help out.
And so it was it was wonderfully thrilling because by early teenage years, you're like earning wages and have the sense of responsibility where you you can drive vehicles. And and so it was great fun. Had all the fun of, like riding bikes or riding motorcycles. But you also were incorporating, like, responsibility and getting paid and then trying to go fishing when you could.
So I as somebody who grows up in that atmosphere, decide they want to be an actor and then end up in L.A., it's the farthest thing from that world.
It doesn't make any sense. Not only that, the thing that always baffles me and Meghan is that is that it was a real cultural vacuum, you know, in the 70s. So we've got three TV channels plus PBS, and we've just got like top 40 radio stations. And I've got nobody in my entire community giving me the good shit. Like, there's there's I don't have an older sibling or there's no cool kid in my whole town to say, like, oh, here's the radio's playing the Eagles, but here's Frank Zappa.
Or here's here's the weird stuff that you will come to identify with as like counterculture art stuff. And so there's this famous home movie of me at like age 11 or so and our fishing cabin in Minnesota. The whole big family would go on ice fishing vacations and there's a home movie. And it was a new thing where somebody had an eight millimeter camera. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And they're just panning across the 18 family members that are that are on this trip and everybody's like shying away from the spotlight and so forth.
And it gets to me, this 11 year old me and I'm just making noises. It's like Helen Keller doing her water bit where I'm like, oh my God, you have a camera.
This pointed here plenty here. Like, you want a load of this show, showbiz right here, turn the lights on this. And no idea. Like, I never did any cognitive deduction where I was like, oh, I love John Belushi and I love jimmying the Tomsky. Christopher Lloyd on Taxi. I love Jackie Gleason. I love Carol Burnett. I want to do what they do. How do I go about achieving that? None of that ever occurred to me because I was in such a cultural vacuum.
So I had this tensioned of like I want to I want to show biz for people.
And I did I did plays at my high school.
We did like our I mean, it's a tiny town. It's a couple of thousand people. First of all, before we go on, I want to know who you play.
But that's what I tell people the same. I go you. It's hard to remember that there was a time where. Being famous wasn't something that absolutely every human on the planet. Thought they could and should do. I mean, before the advent of reality shows, I mean, there was a huge cultural shift and that was, I don't know, 20 years ago where suddenly you're like you could live in a small town and and your local butcher could have a reality show.
And it became a normalcy where you're like, oh, anybody can get on TV. Like Snooki can become a New York Times best selling author. That's right.
And so what when when it came time to choose your career path and choose where I was going to go to college even then, I mean, hilariously, my high school guidance counselor who looked like my mom and dad both went to my same high school. My dad is still like he was the he's on trophies in the trophy case. Amazing for batting average, like free throw percentage and say such a stud. And and so my guidance counselor went to school with my mom and dad.
This weird troglodyte of a man rest in peace. His name was our John Jay. And he pronounced one John because it's the Middle East.
And he gave you like a of a Xerox was like thirty six career choices. This is the guidance counselor in your junior. So you're trying to pick a college and it's literally like accountant, lawyer. There's no trades on there.
It's all like college trained, you know, career paths.
And I was like, I think I want to go into the arts. Like I play I play the saxophone. I I was the lead tenor sax in our jazz band and like, I was really into the saxophone. But I think I want to be an actor. And not only that guy, but everybody was like, I don't think I don't think you can do that. Like, I don't think you can get there from here. Have you ever heard of anybody doing that?
And I'm like, no.
And so I said, OK, well, what about I mean, I can go to music school and I'll play the saxophone. And he was like, I don't think that's a good idea either. I mean, there was one guy who played the trombone, Clark Anderson's Big Brother, and and he he wants a trombone school. And now he's teaching band at a small Illinois college.
Yeah, but that's the trombone. Right.
But even so, they were like they were like there's only one president and here's what he achieved. So that's like that's all that's available. Is that what you want?
And I was like I said, I think you guys are thinking small.
Like, I think you're pretty small minded and thankfully I'm not show this. My my girlfriend, who was a year older, was auditioning for the dance department at the University of Illinois Big Ten School. And I drove for three hours to this audition and I was hanging out in the hallway and I met some theater students completely out of luck. And not only did I meet them, but they must have been like, Hey, kid, why are you hanging out in this hallway in the dance department?
Are you a pervert? And I was like, no, my girlfriend's here auditioning.
And somehow we struck up a conversation and I learned that I was like, What do you mean you're theater students? And and I was like, What? You. And they said, you know, when we graduate, we hope to go to Chicago where you can get paid to act in plays. And I was my mind was absolutely blown. I was like, you, are you fucking kidding me?
Like I've heard of London and I've heard of Broadway. But, you know, anybody can get paid to play in Chicago. So I went home from that day to my mom and dad and said, Mom, dad, I can go to college at a state school and then I go to Chicago and get paid to be in place. That's what I'm doing. And they were like, OK, in their defense, they they said, look, you're weird.
You make weird choices. You're you think outside the box, but you always work really hard and do your best at whatever crazy ideas you come up with. So we will support this decision, but we encourage you to try to maintain some other skill set by which you can earn money, because going into the arts is a notoriously dangerous path. And and so I just always made sure I was also a carpenter, which started with my dad teach me how to use tools.
So so I made it.
Thankfully, I was able to find a path. I wish I could answer or scratch this really strange itch, I just, you know, you wouldn't think to look at me, but I was born to dance.
Oh, I think it's a look at you. It's the other component is the sort of optimistic mindset and sort of a little bit of ignorance is bliss. You know, nobody can imagine if they said to you, which, by the way, whenever I say this fact, I feel like it can't be true. And I check it. And it turns out every time it is true that, OK, Nick, you can maybe be an actor and you can maybe come to L.A. and maybe you can get work as an actor.
And if you're lucky, you'll get into the Screen Actors Guild. And once you're in the Screen Actors Guild, you need to know that. Ninety nine. Point eight percent of the Screen Actors Guild doesn't support themselves. That seems like an insane stat. It's true, really. And you know what, like we had you and I both had ignorance about it. We didn't know those things. We had a dream and we followed it and we got lucky and we were.
But we worked hard. And, you know, and I think I think our Midwestern upbringing had a lot a lot to do with keeping us sane. Europe, you're saying you got a great wife and great life.
And I don't know how many times you've been arrested, but I've never read about it. So I think you're doing great twice.
But they're laughable. And both both in college.
I like it. So you do have a record. Good. Just a bit. You know, and like, I like my materials to have a bit of petina. Yes. I think a bright copper kettle is not nearly as attractive as one was. A little bit of of aqua mold developing on it.
I need to ask you about everyone on that show. Parks and Recreation was such an amazing self starter and had such a big life outside of the show. And the show would have been enough to just have been in Parks and Rec. But now you wrote books. You did a one, you did multiple One-Man shows. The first show was you with the guitar, correct?
Yeah. And then you and Megan did a tour together. Yeah. Obviously as these huge tours. Rashida, you're writing Toy Story four and you know Amy's books and on and on.
Everybody had something and I was always so inspired.
It's what made me start writing my books and going on tour. Tell me about the I want to know about the tour with Megan. And it's about your sex life, is this correct?
Sure. The the it's interesting. Megan and I are both theater actors and she went to Northwestern even though she grew up in Oklahoma City. So we both started in Chicago theater. And when people here in Chicago, they they often jump to the conclusion that we went to Second City, that we're that we're trained comedy performers like Amy Poehler and Tina Fey and Steve Carell. But we're not we want to straight theater, which means it was more like doing plays.
Do you ever do Steppenwolf or any of that stuff? Yeah, I did five shows at seven. Are you kidding?
Those you don't know. Steppenwolf was was founded by Malkovich, right?
Well, he was one of the it was founded by three guys, Gary Sinise, Jeff Perry and Terry Kinney. And and Malkovich was an early member.
And Laurie Metcalf and Glen Headly and and others.
I mean, it's a it's an incredibly the most successful theatre company maybe ever. Yeah.
It's definitely the greatest American theatre company to my way of thinking.
Yeah, definitely. What shows did you do there? I did. The first thing I did was Clockwork Orange. Jesus, I was. And the the way I got in, I became Steppenwolf's fight choreographer. I was good at sword fighting and that sort of thing. So I was in Clockwork Orange as the fight captain and a cast member.
And then Faulkner's As I lay dying, we adapted to the stage with this great The Crucible, my play, John Propter. What a great part. And getting to do these things that. And then there was a Clifford Odets play called Golden Boy. Those were part of this high school outreach program where you do the play at the theater, but then you also have high schools come in and it's an educational outreach thing.
Oh, and then got the greatest one. The last one I did there was Sam Shepard's buried child through Gary Sinise. And I wanted the the the role. It's funny. We've touched on everything in that play. There's it's just incredible play about the generations of Akorn family in Illinois and the role of the grandson is named. Vince is a kid that grew up on a corn farm. He plays the saxophone. He's no way there's no way to the city to be in showbiz.
No way he's come back to reconcile these things. And I was like, oh, my God, this I am this guy. And so I did the audition. I met Gary. I was I tried so hard. And they called and said, we Gary loved your audition. We think you would be perfect to understudy Ethan Hawke, who's going to be playing the part. And and so so I. Did I know it was really fun and and I had a great time working with Ethan and his great, great actor.
Yeah. Did you get to go on ever did you ever go to matinees? No, I did not take him out to do any any decent theater does. A couple of matinees were there on purpose. So the understudies can do a show. Right.
But I. Ted Levine was. Oh it's so quiet. Wait, this is so funny that you mention Ted Levine.
I was thinking about the famous Ted Levine audition story. So Ted Levine plays the what's his character's name in Silence of the Lambs Buffalo Bill, of course.
So Ted Levine, as you know, plays Buffalo Bill in silence, lotion in the basket. It puts the lotion in the back.
So the have you heard the story about his audition ever? I am not sure. I'd love to hear it say so. Now, by the way, this could very well be one of those Hollywood stories. That isn't true, but it rings really true to me. So he's auditioning for Buffalo Bill, right. And he does this thing when he auditions that like. That's really great. Ted, thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for coming in.
And he goes, you know, I did have one other impulse. They're like, oh, well, yeah, sure, Ted, go for it, he goes one second, he walks out of the out of the door, comes back in and now he's nude. Oh, yeah.
And he does that thing and they're like, Jesus fucking Christ.
I mean, that's that's one of those moments where you just go you swing for them and they're either going to be like, this person's insane or we're hiring them immediately. And I guess the rest is history.
So incredible. And he is so so the reason Gary did this production of Buried Child was because the last handful of movies and TV things that he had worked on, it sort of put together this cast. It was like, you know what? And you're going to play this and you're going to play this. Let's all get together at Steppenwolf and do this play so he can work with Ted. The great James Gamon played The Matriarch. The people probably know him best as the manager from the movie Major League.
Great old cowboy actor Lois Smith. Yeah, Kelly Overbey, the late, great Leo Burmester, Ethan Hawke. And so I also got hired. I always thought I was going to run a theater or like, you know, be part of a theater company. I love doing everything in the theater. So I also used to always do my own makeup and my own prosthetic makeup. And so they needed just one person to do old age makeup on. James Gamine, who was probably, I don't know, he was probably 60 and they wanted him to look.
Eighty five is not a big deal. It was just some highlights and shadows painted on. So I was the understudy and I was and I was the makeup artist. James Gammon shared a dressing room with Ted Levine. I'm absolutely terrified of Ted Levine. And I'm like twenty four, twenty five years old and Ted's probably 40. So like everybody was friendly.
And James Gammon used to sing like this gruff cowboy voice, and he used to sing like blues folk songs while I would paint his face. And I was just amazing thing. And I loved it so much in one day. And Ted kind of kept to himself. And and it's a great role that I hope put this out to the universe when they do this on Broadway and any time soon. I would like Ted's part, please. His name is Tilden and he's really scary and weird.
And he says there's this great actress named Kelly Overbey played the sort of ingenue that shows up with Ethan Hawke. And Ted is kind of stalking her on the stage. And he says to her, she has like a cute fur coat. And he says, I like her. Cool. Can I hold it, you know, and you just imagine Buffalo Bill saying that with an incredible mustache. So one night I'm painting James Gaiman's makeup and just absentmindedly, you know, we're all comfortable with each other.
And Ted had some brush, some makeup brush that I would borrow or we were sharing. And I without just thinking, said, Teddy, can I can you grab me that brush? And the room was silent. And he said. My name is Ted. Oh, and I was like, oh, my God, I literally am going to be skinned.
I did Chekhov's Three Sisters with Christopher Walken. Holy shit.
And it's that sort of my version of the Ted Levine story, because I was obviously a tad intimidated by Mr. Walken, who can be notoriously scary. And this is pretty more cowbell before he became, you know, the comedic iteration of him.
So he was just beloved for it. No, he was flat out crazy in in this this is Chris Walken blowing his brains out in the Deer Hunter era. Right. And and I was really intimidated by him.
And finally, I figured, you know, I'm never going to get through this show if I don't just. Break through this, so I just walked up to them, like on the first day, I was like, Hi, I'm Rob Lowe and wasn't really a big fan of yours. And he was like, I saw your name.
I didn't know if it would be you. It's like, OK. And he took me for a ride. And his big this is the Williamstown Theater Festival. So it's tiny, beautiful, bucolic town.
And he has a black, like, almost herse Cadillac. And he would sit in it and smoke with no air conditioning going sweating. And we would drive around together and there was a moment where the director. Said that at the curtain call that we should turn, we should turn and applaud the audience. And we did that for a couple of performances, and then in the middle of the show, I looked up at the one day and Chris was in my doorway is why do we applaud the audience?
Well, Chris, because I the director asked us to do it and. Because I think it's I think it's sort of like a Greek tradition of the theater that the Greek actors would do. I think something that goes. Well, I think the audience has been rude, they haven't laughed once at me, and I'm going to given the finger what it was.
And we'll be right back after this.
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That was a blast. Yeah. The you lived up to the hype, but did I, though. Yeah. Like late 80s hype. Who hair mousse era sleeveless t shirts. Like people talk about. There's like an ad in my life. It's all about. Before harrumphs, after Haramis, a friend of mine, there was like my high school photographer for the yearbook, he uploaded a couple of hundred photos from our graduating year yearbook of high school.
And, you know, there was a mixture of emotions, mostly.
And humiliation of disbelief.
But the thing that blew my mind, I graduated in eighty eight from high school was the the hair, the edifices of hair that these like all of the girls from like the homecoming queen, cheerleader, star of the volleyball team, all the way to like reclusive chemistry nerd.
They all had these crazy like constructions that only now I was like, what time did you get up every morning to do this, to put on this? Do you remember?
Did they when I grew up, the thing that they all had, like the bang, they were bangs because they were they were up at a 90 degree angle and then out at an additional 90 degree angle.
And we called that the craw was that was at a thing in Indiana and in high school.
They have an actual term for it. No, I hope not that I recall I mean, it was like the prow of a ship. Yes, yes. Oh, those were the days. I mean, obviously, you know, hair is an obsession for me. You know that, right? Sure. Looks like I'm very proprietary about my hair. So much so that they wrote it into Ryan Murphy. The first thing he did when he was writing my new show, Lonestar nine on One, was to make sure that I played a firefighter who is maybe more concerned about his hairline than even pulling people out of fires.
And and we did a whole bold sequence. And I mean, I think maybe maybe me and Ron Swanson are the only are the two people who, like, would be on like the heads or tails of the hair toss coin. There was such a thing. Did you think I'll take that as a compliment?
I mean, you have a fine head of hair to begin with. But I mean, bro, you know, I mean, Swanson is super OK. Who do you think has better hair? Ron Swanson. Or my character, Billy Hicks and St Albans Fire with that mullet of shame. Oh, boy. Well, I mean, I have your awakening the. The keys to my sexuality, I mean, I achieved puberty at my first at about Act two of St.
Elmo's Fire the first time I saw this. So I mean, the thing about Swanson is Mike wrote something early on that he that he gets up in the morning and like runs a comb through his hair once, and that's the result.
And so, I mean, overall, I'd say probably you take the the gold, but Ron would win in the effortless category.
OK, well, I make I make no illusions. My mind was nothing but effort. I mean, it was it was hours in a in a hair trailer and multiple multiple flammable chemicals on my head. What did you have on your head?
Well, actually, it was mousse. Yes. And it's funny, I mean, given the nature, I was not of teenage heartthrob. And so the plumbers and bus drivers that I've played over the years, the the the woodshop teachers never required a lot of time and the hair and makeup chair. So that hairdo on Ron Swanson that we call the full douche, it was the first time in my career that I that I had like a hairdo every day that required mousse and products and like one of those big round brushes and, like, blowing it out.
You know, Robert Mitchum said that acting is no job for a man.
And it brought that like it made me feel like a Robert Gulay or a Hasselhoff or something like Robert Mitchum said to me.
Get your hands off my daughter now. Yeah, no, listen, you you are thin and youthful. And what are you what you must be working. What's the workout that Nick Offerman is doing these days? You know what?
Three or four years ago now, I had a Skype meeting with a director for a superhero movie, and it was one of those once you kind of know how the business works, is it even to the point that I do? Because I don't get a lot of meetings for superhero movies.
And so I knew, like I knew that this guy was not he wasn't the first choice as director. The director had been fired and this guy was a crew member that had been promoted to director.
And so I knew that going in, there was no way I was getting this job.
No way. I just like, you know, the mass. And the only way I get the job is if the man or woman is a maverick, you know? And I'm like, OK, this is like we're on the same page. This is the smartest thing you can do. Anybody can go to the gym and get, like, ripped, but I will be funnier than any of these other choices because I know that I'm probably maybe number five or seven on your list of people you're meeting with.
But I totally get it during doing this meeting. And I you know, and I'm saying to this person, but I understand how it works. I know the I think the smartest thing you could do would be to cast me as the only chance is it's the kind of thinking that will allow your superhero movie to stand out from all of the.
You're right, by the way, you're 100 percent right. You're not being self-serving. You're actually.
No, I don't mean that. Like you like I'm so great or anything. It's because I'm simply outside the box 100 percent. And but I said, you know, I understand that you're not in this kind of position where you can take a risky swing of any sort. So I'm just glad to talk to you. It's really nice to meet you. Good luck with the movie stars. You're waiting to hear back from the offers you've already made to and have a nice day.
And I got out of this meeting is about four years ago and we were up vacationing up in the redwoods in Northern California. And I said, you know what? I'm just going to start running and I never run. And I've always been an athlete. I played sports my whole life, but I never just ran, you know, for exercise. And that day I started running and I've run every week I do five or six days a week and I do four miles a day.
Jesus. And by doing that, it that makes me then always pay attention to my diet as well. Yeah. So I can eat a little more enjoyably because I'm burning more calories. My metabolism is burning, but pretty quickly I became hooked on it. So now I feel terrible. If I don't go running that's it.
I agree. I get like the endorphin rush from running is is really is really insane. But can you tell me who got the part in the movie.
Well, no can give me a hint.
Can you give me a hint. I'll tell you off the air. I know I, I, I proudly tell people that I'm the idiot that turned down Grey's Anatomy. I wear it as a badge of stupidity. I wear it like I'm like I'm happy to tell people that I'm so stupid that I was like, let me think. Grey's Anatomy or Dr. Vegas.
I know. One hundred percent. Doctor Vegas. One hundred percent.
It's so funny.
It probably only like at the end of the day. Look, Nick, it probably only cost me about eighty million dollars.
How many seasons have they done of Grey's Anatomy? They've done at least a level. I think it's eleven seasons.
Oh, I think it's I think it's more it might be more or something.
And by the way, I would not I wouldn't quit to ride race cars. I would have been milking that gravy train to the ends of the earth.
So, I mean, fortunately, you have the the luxury of comfortable hindsight. You're not you're missing that opportunity didn't leave you destitute. And so we can laugh about it. But still, it is it is amazing. I mean, but but who knows when a pilot or just a just a paragraph comes across your desk. Yeah. In your life, you don't know.
You just don't know what's going to. Although in fairness, I knew it was a great script and I knew that Dr. Vegas was not a great script, but I'd already made a deal. And then the manager's out there.
But in in hindsight, I look back and I go, if I had done Grey's, I wouldn't have been on parks. Yeah. And I listen, no disrespect to Grey's Anatomy. I just for me, I'd rather have parks on my IMDB. Grace, I really would. I love Parks and Rec, it's one of my favorite things I've ever done. It's another one of those. It's the same thing.
Who knew? Like it's signing on to that. It's amazing. In this day and age, the office and Parks and Recreation are are these crazy juggernauts that make me sorry that our union was at a very weak place when we started Parks and Rec. And so they gave us these shrub deals where they were like, you know, we're in no position, like you have no leverage. You should just take what they offer. And also we're going to bargain away your residuals.
Have a good day.
See, I now know we're with those two shows. Just go in perpetuity like you can't believe drive hundreds of millions of dollars. And we do find no need to hold a benefit for either one of us.
But I think people would be shocked to know that for the most part, Ron Swanson and Chris Trager are not really participating the deals that they're sort of famous deals that came out of the cast negotiating together with friends and Everybody Loves Raymond and even Will and Grace, the network said, whoa, this is these actors are getting paid way too fairly.
I remember vividly on West Wing. So West Wing comes out right. And in the soundstage next door, I was walking by one day and the network had delivered a Range Rover with a bow on it to Melena Canne Karate's. For her amazing work and success in a show called I Believe Providence, yeah, so this is the climate we're living in and West Wing comes out and it wins the Emmy in its first year, first time show had ever done that.
Most nominations in the history of television to that time, it is a top ten show and probably the the best reviewed show of the last 20 years. Warner Brothers at this time is about to be bought or or with AOL. It's going to be AOL and Time Warner now. Right. So this is this like it's a big, heady goldmine.
And for any youngsters listening to AOL stands for America Online.
Yeah. And people loved it back in the day. And we get to work one day. We just won all the Emmys, I think. And the we got a notice. The head of the studio and network is coming down and wants to see us all in the Roosevelt Room set, and they're going to be giving us something. And so I'm so excited.
I can't believe how excited I am. And I remember I was with the great late, great John Spencer. I don't think I've ever worked with a better actor than Johnny who played right. Leo McGarry. He could do more with the words, thank you, Mr. President, than most actors could do with ten pages of brilliant writing anyway, such a throwback to such a throwback. So Johnny, in our sitting in the Roosevelt Room and the whole crew and the cast is there and we're gathered.
Remember, it was so hot and we're waiting and we're waiting and we're burning money. We should be shooting or waiting and we're waiting. And guys with suits come in and walkie talkies and security guys, they're coming. They're coming to five minutes out. They're on their way there.
If I'm finally the head of the studio comes in and he says, I just am so proud of what you all are accomplishing here.
What you are doing on the West Wing is flag bearer, not only for Warner Brothers and our new partners, AOL Time Warner, but for the industry at large. And as a token of our appreciation for this world breaking success, we have the following. And then he gestures to somebody who wheels in like a room service cart with a blanket over it, and they wheel it in as like.
And John Spencer and I had been debating, like, what kind of cars we were going to get. Like, Melina Karunakara is on Providence. Right. And they wheel in this tray. And Spencer turns to me because I don't think we get cars.
And the president literally says Wollar and pulls the blanket off.
It's a single serving espresso maker. Yeah.
And not one for everyone. One one for the to be shared. It broke down two weeks later and we found out it was rented.
Hold that thought. We'll be right back. There it is, a win for the ages.
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A new series from Stitcher hosted by me, Jordan Bell. You realize Tiger Woods doesn't know who he is best in the history of golf? No question in my mind. And this season, with the help of journalist Albert Chen, we're asking, what if the story of Tiger Woods that the media has been telling? What if it's been completely wrong?
all-American Tiger is out now listen and stitcher Apple podcasts or your favorite podcast app. When people came into the park, so we had so many hitters come in, I mean, you turn around and there'd be, you know, whoever was there, anybody that ever came through, you were like, oh, boy, I got to, like, get it together.
Well, the first one that springs to mind was was not dissimilar from the TED experience.
And that was Sam Elliott.
You had the yoga man. He was like a yoga guy in our show, right? Yeah. He the idea was that they wanted Ron's doppelganger like bizarro Ron Swanson, Eagleton. Ron is so Eagleton, right? Of course.
So for every everything that was like manly and conservative about Ron Swanson, Eagleton, Ron was it was a peacenik vegan flower child.
I did a scene where I came into your office and he was in a lotus pose, I think.
Yeah, totally. And and the first day, I mean, on my shirt came and told me, you know, he told me about the role. And because often he'd say, hey, we we came up with this idea and we would talk about casting ideas and try to come up with the best ideas. And then in this case, he came up to me a few days later and said, so we've cast we got the part, guess who it is.
And so. To be told that it's a crazily someone who's been my hero for decades, I mean, not like The Big Lebowski in my circle is the Mount Olympus death. Jeff Bridges and John Goodman and Buscemi into Toro and Sam Elliott like it. Those are the gold medals of my lifetime of what you could do with them. But then going back to, like, Mask and Roadhouse and like Sam Elliott was also just this awesome badass cowboy actor that was still extant, like he was coming to our show.
Yeah. And so I was pretty nervous about getting to meet Sam. And this is hilariously how would go so often on the set of Parks and Rec. This first day, I went into the makeup trailer where he was, and before I could even start, he got up and was like, Oh, God damn it, I can't believe it. I love you so much. I am so excited. And he starts in and I'm like, oh, shut schuss.
Hang on. At times you don't get to, do you know? Yes. Elliot, look at me. You are. So he immediately like broke the ice so beautifully and we're still dear friends like I embraced him. He is such a beautiful spirit. He's such a great guy. And so that assuaged my hugest fear.
I thought I was felt that way when when Bill Murray showed up on our show, I was like, wait, I'm sorry, who's playing the mayor? And so he's coming here and basically he's just going to sit a fucking coffin. You got Bill Murray to come here and get in a coffin.
So funny. It's such a baller move. I was loved when Mike Shaw would come like he did with you and he'd run casting ideas by us because we did a story line where my character, Chris Trager, was seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Richard Nygaard, who could forget his who could who could forget.
I have I actually have a plaque in my office here of of certification from Dr. Richard Norgaard still.
And so there's a lot of talk about who should be Dr. Richard Nygaard. And we were trying to get Leonard Nimoy.
Oh, my God. Oh, how great would Dr. Richard Nygaard be?
Leonard Nimoy and then Alan the great Alan Yang, who went on to create Master of None with Azeez. He had the best idea ever. The doctor, Richard Norgaard, should be played by me, of course.
And Chris has been seeing an alternate version of himself.
So that was the other thing I always loved about Park, is Mike Shaw's obsession with names.
Yeah, like you. Right? I, I when I write the names of the I'm bad at them, I don't really care. But I once wrote a script in the first 30 pages was man and woman and then went back. But Mike is obsessed with people's names and he does a great job of them. The first the very first episode of Parks and Rec, we were we're all like it's like we're a bunch of orphans and we've been selected to crew.
David Geffen's a yacht. And so we're on the first week of like, oh my God, you guys come here. There's a hole. There's a pool table down here. Like everyone's figuring out all the bells and whistles of the set on our soundstage and we're shooting and we're just giggling and going crazy. And in the middle of in the middle of one day, like a big group scene, Mike said, OK, you guys, I think you got to have fun, but I have to go because right outside the bullpen in the hallway is just this wall of like forty eight previous parks directors, like city council members or something.
Just one of them. Just one of those municipal like the elders. Yes, I remember it. Yep. And he was like, I have to go do the greatest thing I ever will get to do. And that is come up with forty eight names or however many there were. And to this day. Oh my God. And some of those photos were like the producers, Morgan, Sacket and. Yes. And then Gore was up there and Greg Daniels.
And I mean Mike takes such a perverse pleasure. And one of the I wrote one episode and when we were in the when we were in the writers room going over stuff. Just becomes a point of obsession. There was a family, a fictional family in the town with the last name of lupus, Eliab.
I asked this. And so if you go through the credits of Parks and Rec, I don't know, 20 or 30 purposes.
So like I was going to say, I feel like I heard that name a lot on the show. Two or three of them might like to tell us two or three of them ended up coming back four or five times. So it would be like the waitress or Harold Lupus who ran the funeral parlor or whatever. And we we had a riff in the writers room that was so stupid. It was the greatest example. I always think of when people talk about how you can just get everyone puking.
Laughing was just latenight stupidity. In the writers room.
We were extrapolating a new purpose name like like, you know, I mean, this is like two years into the run of the lupus family and in it and, you know, the pinnacle of stupidity that it reached was something like a waitress, a waitress named Melissa Kest Lupus.
And it was all spelled out phonetically, which is just absolute nonsense. But we all know and somebody types it out and it projects up on the board and we all were on the floor.
I always wondered what it was like to write on a map in a lot of writers rooms, but to write on that show with that amount of if you go back and look at the credits of Parks and Rec, that writer's room is the nineteen twenty seven New York Yankees.
The comedy Crazy. It's crazy. And then you walk in there and you get to write an episode. I mean, it's a lot of silliness, I think, to write. I mean, as you just alluded to. Well, it is. I mean, everybody has they have to have confidence when it comes to dealing with structure and putting together a story that plays out neatly over three or four acts over twenty two minutes. But they also just have this unbridled silliness.
That is something. One of the great things about the episode I got to write. I learned the lesson that I'll never be successful at being one of them.
I directed a couple episodes as well and again, it just felt like people say, what was that like? Do you know, do you aspire to do some more directing and so forth? And I said I loved doing it, but it's not like I was there out of my merits as a writer or director because I hadn't done it before in that genre. And it was like getting to drive again a really comfortable boat or somebody had already figured it all out.
And we're going back and somebody is like, do you want to hold the wheel?
That's exactly what it's like when you're like so well said. I'm driving. I'm driving the beautiful boat.
That's exactly right. That's what they do. They said, Do you want to direct Lone Star or whatever? It's like I direct something that that I've built. Like, I don't know if it floats in, like you're, like, thrilled with that. But when they hand you the keys to that boat, Ferrari, OK, so we did episode together. You're my director. Was a difficult.
No, you weren't you Amy. When you first I always remember this quote because Amy Poehler has such a great acumen when it comes to show biz. Like that's like when when people were at SNL with you, you know, if you keep your shit together and keep your head on straight, SNL is the most incredible bootcamp for a career in show business. Whether you go into television or films or touring because you see everything, you see everything, you're exposed to everything.
It's nice to see it all, everything. And not just I mean, you've got like Olympic gold medalists coming through. You've got presidential campaign nominees coming through and everything is breakneck and like up all night. It's just a madhouse. Twenty four, seven. And so she always struck me as like the scrappy shortstop of the of the bad news bears.
That is the cast and writers of SNL, because she sees the field, she she's the one calling out like, OK, we've got two down downforce at home. You know, she she knows what's going on. Yep. And I, I always from the get go on our show, I would see her just just do things from a sort of sibling, familiar familial leadership role. We're like she'd see somebody on set and me is just an actor, lifelong.
It's not my place. Why is that weird representative from after, like we're trying to do the scene and this somebody they're like trying to drum up votes or something.
And I'm like, that's weird. But it doesn't occur to me to do what Amy did, which is she's like, hey, who's that guy? Was that guy here? We're trying to work here. And she goes over to the boss, like Morgan said to the producer and says, get rid of this guy. Like we're all happy to deal with our union and we're supportive of our union, but not here. We're like, this is not the time nor place.
And I and I would say, oh, yeah, you know, that's our place. That's our prerogative to say, please keep our set free of distractions like that. And so early on when you came to our show, you quickly established yourself as someone who had done this for a very long time, like like the first or second day we were watching you operate. And Amy said he's been very good at being a professional for a very long time.
And I thought that it always shows you just know what you're doing. I mean, you're you're a veteran.
And so hearing that, I love that. Yeah. You like you. You do. You discern, you get your scenes, you get your schedule and you're like, OK, here's what time I'm going to arrive and can I please have a black coffee and a cup of espresso or what would you get? A little cup and a big I get a little cup and a big cup.
I got a cup of of of milk usually half and half and the espresso because I trust no one to mix it but myself.
You're not probably not dissimilar from riding and Christopher Walken is Cadillac.
I love that I, I remember Brian. I remember coming in and. Because it was it was going to be it was like we we were going to do six episodes, I guess, and then we're all going to reconnoiter and see if it was a good fit. And and I remember doing the flu episode and and saying, stop pooping in the mirror. I think you were on set that day. I feel like you were there, but I feel like you were like at the monitor then.
And I thought, this is great. I'm having fun here. I can be a total idiot. It's just the best.
Yeah, but it really is. I mean, based on that statistic you cited earlier, ninety nine point what's the percentage?
It's like it's 90. It's 97, 98. Ninety nine percent of all people in the Screen Actors Guild can't support themselves just from acting.
So so given that statistic then to imagine getting a job that's going to last for seven years. One hundred and twenty five episodes, that you that is something that would quite possibly be your favorite show, even if you weren't involved. Yep. That percentage I mean is is just infinitesimal. It really was so it was so fun. I mean I. I love working, I have a Midwestern work ethic is you do like I feel best when I'm getting when I'm productive and totally contributing to the world and to my household, but that I've never had a job like that where you work a 12 hour day, which is very tiring.
It's it's very hard work.
It's 12 hours legitimately, 12 hours of work.
And it's something something that people can never understand. I mean, I've I've shoveled blacktop for a living and a framed houses. I've worked as a laborer. And so, of course, it's like there's nothing backbreaking persay about acting. But but the ability to learn five or eight pages of material for the next day's work then be made up into some sort of even if even if you look natural, they've done your hair, they've done your makeup, and it's up to you to maintain that across 12 hours and maintain let's say you're doing a scene.
Let's say me and you were doing a scene walking down the hallway and you get a cup of coffee if you're shooting that on the West Wing or shooting then on a movie, that scene might take three days or five days or on Parks and Rec.
Let's say it's going to take two or three hours. You have to maintain the same focus, the same Wantage out of your light bulb so that the work is consistent, so that it can be cut together, et cetera, et cetera. So the end of 12 hours, even if I'm Ron Swanson and I've literally been sitting at my desk for 12 hours and I only have like seven lines of dialogue, maintaining the focus to simply achieve that. There's something you can never describe to people.
It's like, you know, it's like being on a Skype call with your parents, but you can't shut it off. You're always being scrutinized.
Yeah, well, the other thing is, if you are not present, by the way, being present in real time in life is the single hardest thing to do in life where it is. Right. And then acting is totally predicated upon that very premise that we all chase. I spent hundreds of dollars, hundreds of thousands of dollars probably over the years in therapy, trying to be present in my own life now.
And in the end, if you can't do that as an actor, you're not going to be very successful and and try being present 12 hours a day every day. You know, it's it's that is the thing. It's hard to to input, to impart, I should say, to people.
It is I mean, no question it's the fact that we used to do this makes us the luckiest possible boys running. It's unbelievable. But at the same time, it's not sitting around with our feet up.
It is it does require it is like playing a professional sport and the other thing.
And then then I'll wrap it. But the other thing is, is that is that it requires longevity in this business, requires being able to reinvent yourself. And and that's one of the things I've I've always, again, admired not only about you, but but about the people in parks, is everybody just had this uncanny ability to reinvent themselves, particularly from characters who became so iconic. And, you know, your your work now that you're doing is bears no resemblance to Ron and Ron was so iconic and and everybody up and down the line on that.
And that call sheet, it's you have to there's no putting your feet up. The world will pass you by. You've got to you've got to keep surprising people. That's that's part of the drill. And you are able to do that maybe better than anybody I know. Well, thank you, I appreciate that and I mean, I'll throw that right back at you.
I mean, even while we were doing parks, the I forget the guys, I forget the guy's name on Californication.
Oh, Eddie Nero.
Well, I mean, but that's it. I mean, especially in the thing is, the landscape keeps changing so drastically every month with social media and and content delivery systems. You know, now there's now there's Klebb and episodes. There are three point five minutes or whatever the new the new Morsal bite sizes. And I'm just grateful. It seems impossible to me because Parks and Rec has been a successful and indelible as it has been.
I know the rules I grew up with. I'm not supposed to get to do more stuff because Ron Swanson worked really well. And so I'm very grateful that the world is allowing me to put on a wig or, you know, change up my gait and and get another swing at us.
Yeah, and it's always fun to watch. Nicholas Offerman, you're the best for coming on my my podcast. Literally give you my love to your amazing wife. We have to do part two so we can do the whole episode talking about our mutual love for Tammy, Tammy Slash, Megan Rogov. She's just literally when they talk, we talk about one of a kind. I mean, right, we both married one of a kind women. That's that's why we're still married, because it keeps us on our feet and on our toes.
How many years have you been married now?
We've been together.
We've been married 17 together, un fucking believable. So it can't be done even in Hollywood. It can be done. It can be done, you could be married 17 years in Hollywood, you can be a farm boy from Illinois with three stations and no cool records and nobody in the business.
And you can end up on the Mount Rushmore of sitcom characters like that.
Use your mind in my manners. That's right.
Nick, thank you. Love you, buddy. My pleasure. Give our love to Cheryl. All right.
Well, that was fun. I do love that man so much and have from the minute I laid eyes on him. And and one of the great takeaways about talking to Nick and now that he signed off, I can talk about him behind his back. So that's what's really great is. Nick Offerman on paper growing up how and where he grew up. You don't go, hey, bro, you're going to end up on the Mount Rushmore. Of comedy icons.
And I just think it's great for people who have, you know, dreams are that we have a calling that seems so unlikely that stuff happens. One hundred percent happens, and, you know, there's a world in which Nick, you know, listens to the haters, as the kids would say, and, you know, he's still on the farm. But instead, we get lucky and he gives us Ron Swanson and all the characters he continues to.
And I'm inspired by that. I'm really, really inspired by by people who may not necessarily tick every box. You know what they want to do and they persevere and inspire anyway, so I love talking to Nick and I loved having you listen. And thanks for listening to literally with me, Rob Lowe, yours truly. You have been listening to literally with Rob Lowe, produced and engineered by me, Tory Bryant, executive produced by Rob Lowe for low profile Adam Sachs and Jeff Ross at Team Coco and Colin Anderson and Chris Bannon at Stitcher.
The supervising producer is Aaron Blair's talent producer, Jennifer Sampas. Please write and review the show on Apple podcast and remember to subscribe on Apple podcast, Stitcher or wherever you get your pockets. I'm so glad to have Atkins' joining us as partners on the show, I've been working with Atkins' now for a couple of years. I've been eating the Atkins way for many, many years, probably starting in my mid 30s when I looked at a photo of myself in US magazine is not a good day.
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