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5 questions with actor Nick Offerman, who's performing in CT Saturday

Taylor Miller
Taylor Miller Photo
Actor Nick Offerman brings his one-man show to Foxwoods' Grand Theater March 25.

Perhaps you’ve heard the old adage “Never meet your heroes.”

The presumption is that your experience will never live up to your expectations; even worse, they might be rude or indifferent. My broadcasting career has put me in front of a few of my heroes, and I can tell you from experience the old saying has some truth to it.

So I was a tad nervous when actor Nick Offerman got on the line. Offerman is performing in a one-man show at Foxwoods’ Grand Theater Saturday night. Once I got over the surreal sensation of hearing Offerman’s distinct voice over the line, I realized I was nervous for nothing. In our 20-minute phone conversation, we talked about his one-man show, his iconic role as Ron Swanson on the NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation,” and his critically acclaimed one-episode role as survivalist Bill on the HBO series “The Last of Us.”

This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.

1. Ray Hardman: Nick, tell me about your one-man show.

Nick Offerman: Well, it's honestly just a lot of fun. I work out some musings, trying to distill the ill humors of the day with some clumsy songs and slow talking, making fun of all of us. It's trying to do a little bit to dispel the amount of hatred that's being tossed around in the world by tossing around a bit of affection and understanding and suggest that maybe we were all flawed, not just our politicians. I'm a big fan of making people laugh with A-B rhymes and five [guitar] chords.

2. Hardman: What itch does getting out on the road and doing this show scratch?

Offerman: I'm a theater man. I come from the Chicago theater. I cut my teeth doing plays on stage at big and small theaters in Chicago. And that's something, since I've been fortunate enough to get consistent work in film and television. It's really hard to fit a theater production into the schedule.

It is a wonderful champagne problem. So if I want to get on stage and get a reaction out of a live audience, then this is the easiest way to make that happen. When I first started doing this, I felt like I was really getting away with something because I went on stage with a microphone and a guitar, and performed for 90 minutes, and they called it a show. And I said, "Well, OK, but we didn't build a set, there were no costumes, I didn't rehearse it for six weeks."

3. Hardman: I understand you wade into the choppy waters of politics in your show.

Offerman: I mean, it's really interesting in my show, because I pay attention to the news, I want to just write a monologue, to address the Fox News viewers in my audience and say, "Listen, first of all, if you're a Fox News viewer, I still like you, I don't want to be your enemy, but you have fallen prey to a disease. And you're not alone. There's a great many of you."

But the problem is, to even broach the subject, our system is so broken that people immediately shut off and they're like, "Oh, another Hollywood actor on the liberal, snowflake teat, selling out to whoever." So [in my show] I try to make the main flavors of my pizza mirth and humor, and sneak in the broccoli of like, decency, and what if we treat each other with affection instead of hatred? I don't know [laughter].

4. Hardman: You have received a lot of attention for your role as Bill in “The Last of Us.” I thought you played that character with such dignity and compassion; congratulations.

Offerman: Oh, thank you. I really, really appreciate that anytime you do a job like this, and people say, "Hey, I fully received the medicine you're distributing," and it is incredibly powerful. I'm very grateful to hear that. The way I pick jobs is almost exclusively based on the scripts. I read the ["The Last of Us"] script and said, "I have to do this. There's no question." I thought this is such a beautiful and delicately written relationship across a life, so I'm just gonna do my best not to screw it up.

5. Hardman: Woodworking is a big part of your life. What's happening on that front?

Offerman: Well, my dance card has been quite full of late. And so the wood shop is working on exquisite, bespoke dining tables at the moment for custom customers. I'm mainly working as an administrator and overseeing things. And at the same time, I'm beginning to put together ideas for a new book. It's my sixth book and my second woodworking book. It's going to be a woodworking book for families.

Nick Offerman performs at Foxwoods’ Grand Theater Saturday,March 25,at 8 p.m.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.
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