"Parks and Recreation" Post - Mostly Nick Offerman and Aubrey Plaza

Aubrey Plaza in GAP Ad

The BA Q&A with Parks and Recreation Star Nick Offerman

The line between Nick Offerman the man and his character Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation is hilariously, carnivorously blurry. They both love animal protein and see woodworking as the path to manly enlightenment.

Your character on Parks and Rec, Ron Swanson, is a vocal libertarian. What's on his Thanksgiving menu?
A large land fowl that he killed and prepared himself. An array of tubers that were grown in his garden. Freedom Fries. A single-malt Scotch and a gallon or two of home-brewed beer--followed by a cigar for dessert.

Sounds enticing. Which dish do you look forward to in real life?
Mashed potatoes. They're mostly butter and cream and Parmesan and garlic--with a little bit of potato mixed in.

As an Illinois native, what's your stance on Chicago-style vs. New York-style pizza?
If properly dried and trimmed, New York-style pizza could be used to make a box for Chicago-style pizza. I love a slice when I'm in NYC, but it's like eating a Slim Jim compared with a filet mignon. One slice of Gino's East stuffed sausage pizza is a bigger meal than an entire New York pie.

You own a woodshop in L.A. where they build furniture out of reclaimed wood. Ever make dining room tables?
I used to build scenery in the Chicago theater community, and I knew that every piece I built, at some point, somebody would have sex on that piece of scenery. So I make furniture that can withstand a lot--family dinners, homework, card games, drinking sessions--and, on occasion, it can take coitus.

We'll take your word for it. What about tools in the kitchen. Any go-tos?
I have a corn creamer that I love. It extracts pulp and juice from kernels, and I simmer that down into a creamed corn that has an almost mashed potato-like consistency. I add butter and hit it with chopped fresh chives at the end for an accent of color. It's my signature dish--it's called "Corn...My Way." There are ellipses in that. It's so sweet and delicious you could serve it for dessert.

Let's talk burgers. We saw you make a Ron Swanson burger--a burger stuffed with a turkey leg--on Jimmy Fallon. What's the Nick Offerman burger?
Really thick and meaty, with a little lamb or a little sirloin. I mix in a couple of eggs to bind it, and sometimes I'll grate in Gruyÿre or Parmesan.

And your wife [actress Megan Mullally]? What do you cook for her?
She loves my lamb chops. I marinate them in oil and throw some fresh rosemary and thyme on the meat as I'm grilling. A couple of those chops, a garden salad, and a steaming pile of "Corn...My Way," and you'll be heading up for seconds yourself. --Interview by Hugh Garvey

Young Hollywood: Popeyes commercial was Aubrey Plaza's big break

Celebrities are so often given free handouts -- designer clothing, courtside seats to the Lakers -- that it’s hard to imagine a star being excited by the prospect of free butterfly shrimp.

But “Parks and Recreation” regular Aubrey Plaza insists she was overjoyed to be consuming said fried food as the face of Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, though she wasn't yet a star.

“I remember a moment where I was eating a bunch of butterfly shrimp and getting paid a lot of money to do that" during a Popeyes commercial, the actress recalled during the Los Angeles Times’ third annual Young Hollywood roundtable on Friday night. “I was living in Queens and I had no money, and I remember thinking, ‘I think I could do this. I’ll just do stuff like this.’ ”

Plaza, 28, joined Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 27, and Bella Heathcote, 24, for a lively discussion during AFI Fest, where the three up-and-comers shared candid tales of how they broke into Hollywood.

Winstead, who stars in this fall’s alcoholism drama “Smashed,” first visited Los Angeles at age 14, when she was thrilled to tour the sets of the television shows “Boy Meets World” and “3rd Rock From the Sun.” But it wasn’t until she worked with Quentin Tarantino on 2007’s “Death Proof” that she felt at home with her career choice.

“When [Tarantino] hired me and he actually sat me down and told me how much he loved me as an actor, I was like ‘Oh, man. Maybe I’m actually OK at this and can actually do something more with it,’ ” Winstead said.

And Heathcote? Her story involved a flirtatious Dustin Hoffman; check out the clip above to hear it. And circle back with Movies Now through the week as we continue to post short videos with additional highlights from the conversation.


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Parks and Recreation: Aziz Ansari and Ben Schwartz Talk Tom and Jean-Ralphio

It’s a special night in Pawnee this week on Parks and Recreation, because Jean-Ralphio is back! Yes, Tom Haverford is again teaming up with his ever-driven partner in questionable ideas. I was on the set of this episode, “Ben’s Parents,” and spoke to both Ben Schwartz and Aziz Ansari about their comedic duo.

When Schwartz sat down with me, he was coming straight from filming and besides the amazing, huge Jean-Ralphio hair, I couldn’t help but notice he was notably sweaty. Explaining why, he said, “I am so sweaty because I was dancing as Jean-Ralphio with Aziz, because that’s what we do: we dance in leather jackets. Anytime we dance, I’m usually in a leather jacket or a heavy coat. So yeah, we were dancing to ‘Celebrate.’”

As for Tom and Jean-Ralphio’s new idea, the actors couldn’t discuss the details, but Schwartz said, “I think it’s going to be so fun. The whole idea is that they’ve said out loud is that Tom is looking to start a new business, and anytime Tom starts a new business his right hand man is Jean-Ralphio. You can look at my hair... You can tell whoever’s going to read this what my hair looks like. It’s insane. It’s crazy. I get so excited when I get to grow out my hair. So they join forces again, and they see what happens when they try to create another business.”

When it came to working with Schwartz, Ansari told me, ”We’d known each other for years from the UCB Theater in New York, so I was excited when he did that part. He’s just so funny. It’s always fun when he gets to come back. It just adds a great energy to stuff. It’s just good to have him around. He’s great.”

Tom and Jean-Ralphio probably wouldn’t be described as great influences on one another, but Ansari remarked, “I think Tom needs Jean-Ralphio because he’s probably a little bit too scared to do his own business and run something by himself. I think he just needs someone else there, because he’s scared. I think Tom’s whole thing is about maturing and realizing, ‘Jean-Ralphio’s kind of a clown. Maybe I don’t need to have his antics involved. Maybe he’s kind of bringing s**t down sometimes.’ But yeah, when they’re both together and gung-ho about a terrible idea, those are always really fun scenes.”

Musing about Tom and Jean-Ralphio and whether their friendship is a positive thing, Schwartz remarked, “Oh man, that’s like, is the glass half full or is the glass half empty? I would say that Jean-Ralphio is just like a puppy, he’s just happy, happy puppy. He just wants to be so supportive and so happy all the time, but he’s a douchebag and an idiot. But I think he truly wants Tom to have his big business -- he always gives him his money and all of that stuff, but I think he just loves to be a part of everything. He just loves to be a part of his adventures and things like that. I don’t know what Jean-Ralphio is like without Tom. I’m almost afraid to find out. But when he’s next to Tom, he’s the happiest guy in the universe.”

Schwartz is now a series regular on Showtime’s House of Lies, but said he was very appreciative to hear from fans happy that he’d still be appearing periodically on Parks and Recreation. “I got so many tweets out of nowhere. It was so nice. It’s so fun to be able to drop by, because then I get to be a f**ing idiot. I come in here and get to be as crazy as I want. My favorite thing is [executive producer] Mike Schur always loves when Jean-Ralphio literally pops out of nowhere. There’ll be a scene, and he just pops into frame. He doesn’t even enter. He just appears somehow. There’s a great line that Schur said, ‘As long as there’s a Park and Rec, there’s a Jean-Ralphio,’ which is my favorite thing in the universe.”

Talking about the kindred spirits nature of Tom and Jean-Ralphio, Ansari said, “Tom has some sort of business acumen, in a strange way, but Jean-Ralphio is just crazy. I don’t know, I feel like if Tom said anything, like, ‘Hey, man. We really need to get into playing golf,’ he’d be like, ‘Yes! Golf is the best! You’re so right, Tom. You’re a genius, you’re a genius.’ He just gets really fired up about anything, so I think he just latched on to Tom’s new idea for a business, and then he got all that money when he was run over by a Lexus -- so that helped with seed money.”

Tom and Jean-Ralphio’s biggest endeavor to date was when they formed Entertainment 720, and Schwartz laughed, revealing, “Man, I have so much stuff in my real-life apartment that says Entertainment 720 on it. I stole so many props. Oh my goodness, it was so fun. That was great, because that was a nice little arc that I got to play, play him getting excited. The thing is, he has no idea how to react to things. When they lost all their money, he was just as excited. They were like, ‘Hey, we lost all our money. We only have five-hundred dollars.’ He’s like, ‘Five-hundred dollars!?’ He looks on the bright side of everything somehow.”


Aziz picked stuff on Birchbox for you to buy
Aziz on Comedy Bang Bang: The Podcast
All-star Bowling Tricks feat. Adam Scott and Aubrey Plaza funnyordie

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