Five Favorite Films with Nick Offerman
The Kings of Summer star also talks stunt choreography, typecasting, and what he considers manly.
Much like his wife Megan Mullally on Will & Grace, Nick Offerman's mustachioed visage became a pop culture phenomenon when his character on another NBC sitcom, Parks and Recreation, simply refused to fade quietly into the background as a small, supporting role. The legend of Ron Swanson has grown exponentially since the show's debut in 2009, and he is among the most popular characters -- if not the most popular -- on a hit comedy chock full of popular characters played by grade-A talent.
The truth is, Mr. Offerman is a seasoned veteran of the stage and screen who emerged from the Chicago theater world back in the late 1990s and began securing parts in film and on television (including a guest spot on Will & Grace) before landing his big break on Parks and Rec. These days, he finds it difficult to dissociate himself from the Ron Swanson mythos, but that doesn't stop him from trying different things, like the play he and Mullally are currently performing in Los Angeles or his latest role in The Kings of Summer, in which he plays a single father whose frustrated teenage son escapes to the forest with two friends to fend for themselves. RT spoke with Nick about the film, what it's like to be pigeonholed as Ron Swanson, and how his love of carpentry helped get him into acting. First, of course, here are Nick Offerman's Five Favorite Films:
[Note: There is some colorful language in this interview.]
(Martin Brest, 1988; 96% Tomatometer)
I'll start with Midnight Run. Just one of the finest Goddamn movies I've ever seen. Charles Grodin and Robert De Niro. If there's a better buddy comedy, show it to me, and I'll shake your hand. It's so funny. It's also where I learned what chorizo is. Being from Illinois, not a lot of truck stops serve chorizo and eggs. It was part of my "goin' out west" legend, like, "One day, I will go to California, and on the way there, I will experience chorizo and eggs."
When you finally experienced it, was it all that you hoped it would be?
And so much more. It's still one of my mainstays. You can't beat the spiciness of the chorizo mixed with the sort of creaminess of the eggs. It's so delicious with a fresh salsa, preferably of the tomatillo variety. Forget about it. I just made my mouth water.
(Mel Brooks, 1974; 89% Tomatometer)
As a kid in the middle of Illinois, it was really a culture vacuum. I mean, we had the Eagles on the radio and John Denver, which are fine in their own right, but you want a little more variety, especially if you're going to end up being an underground hedonist like myself. When Mel Brooks movies came my way, it was just like, "Holy shit. These were made in heaven and sent straight to my VCR." You know, come on, just Mongo. If you're 12, all you care about is Mongo farting and punching out a horse. Literature does not become any more refined than that of the great Mel Brooks.
If I had to pick just one movie, I'd say, "Give me The Big Lebowski," because I can watch that thing 20 times in a row. I'm such a fan, and really, no one's busted me on it yet, but all I really want to do is be John Goodman when I grow up. He's so incredibly intelligent and full of pathos and hilarity, while at the same time, being this crazy linebacker of a man. His work in that and Raising Arizona, which I'll put in a subset under The Big Lebowski, when he eats that fucking bowl of cereal while smoking a cigarette in Raising Arizona, I'm like, "Alright, there is room for me in the pantheon of actors."
Taking a slight turn, I love the John Wayne film The Quiet Man. It's quite something. It's a John Ford movie, it's John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. It's kind of like John Wayne's Brigadoon. He plays this boxer who killed a man in the ring in the States, and so, to escape his past, he moves to his ancestral little home in Ireland. It's this quaint little village, and I believe it's called Innisfree -- I know Innisfree is from a Yeats poem, and it sort of represents the small Irish town of heaven; it's sort of a fantastical place -- but the town in The Quiet Man is Innisfree, which makes sense. So he goes there to escape his past, falls in love, of course, with Maureen O'Hara -- who wouldn't? -- and her brother turns out to be the enormous, pugilistic, evil, Bluto-like landlord. So the movie cannot be resolved, nor can their love, without one final fistfight. It's funny; just the other day, I sent a message to my agent, "Remake idea: The Quiet Man?" I have two fists. I can swagger.
(Akira Kurosawa, 1951; 100% Tomatometer)
[Akira] Kurosawa's Rashomon. I mean, any Kurosawa blows my mind out my ass. We did a production of Rashomon that was actually a play. We did that at my college. We had this amazing sword teacher named Robin McFarquhar, and that was one of his big triumphs, was this production of Rashomon. It's such a cool play, because you do it four times in a row, and you get everybody's perspective. You know, one time the samurai is brave, one time he's a coward. It's really delicious for the actors.
Next, Offerman talks about The Kings of Summer, swashbuckling, being Ron Swanson, and woodworking.