Ron Swanson is getting some lovin' during Season 5 of "Parks & Recreation" and Nick Offerman is excited about his new love interest. Just who can romance Ron and not be named Tammy? None other than Xena herself, Lucy Lawless.
"It's so funny," Offerman told The Huffington Post during a phone interview. "When we came down to figuring out who it was going to be, we realized that the world of popular culture had been creating the perfect candidate for many years: the female champion of the universe."
Lawless is joining the cast as a single mom who catches Ron's eye, but that's not the only change for the new season. Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is now part of the Pawnee City Council, leaving Ron to pick up her slack in the parks department. It's safe to say there's a new dynamic this year. Read on to see what Offerman had to say about the changes and what's in store for his beloved character.
Congratulations on getting a new love interest who is not named Tammy.
Thank you! Yes, it's very exciting.
I talked to Lucy back in February and she said she was up for the role of Tammy 1, but "Spartacus" got in the way. I'm really excited she's finally able to be on the show.
That makes two of us.
She's in how many episodes?
I'm not sure, honestly. I know at least three or four. I'm not positive because it's an ongoing -- we make it up as we go along. I'm not sure what her contract says, but hopefully 28. [Laughs.]
What's it been like shooting? It's a new dynamic for Ron.
It is, honestly. Having Ron have a chance at something real actually made me kind of nervous in the scenes because it was a new side of Ron that we haven't explored. I felt like a high school kid at a dance or something, maybe asking a young lady to dance for the first time because usually when he gets involved with a woman, it's because he can't control himself and there's some sort of impulsive sexual mania taking him over. But in this case, they sort of meet and see in each other the possibility of something through much more down to earth, realistic means and so it was really quite fun. It was really fun also to just have someone who has such a statuesque presence. Lucy is such an incredible leading lady that I haven't had the opportunity in my entire career to stand next to someone like her and speak dialogue, so it's pretty exciting. [Laughs.]
So you were a fan of hers before?
My favorite work of hers has been "Battlestar Galactica." It's been one of the many incredible boons of my dream job is I get to work with people who walk among the giants. [Laughs.]
Can you tell me two truths and a lie about Season 5?
We have not seen the last of the Tammy flavor in the Pawnee goulash ... Ron makes a new friend who he might rather eat than shake hands with ... Tom and Ann fall in love and stay together and it's purely sexual.
What's the dynamic like in the department now that Leslie is on Pawnee City Council?
The dynamic in the department is pretty shaky because not only is Leslie busy elsewhere in her new role as City Councilwoman, but April has gone to Washington, DC with Ben to assist him and his work managing a campaign there. Ron is being looked to to pick up the slack and actually get something done for the first time ever because he's always had Leslie covering his fanny. There's a bit of stumbling, there's a bit of a slipshod quality to the department because we're slapped in the face with just how much Leslie got done. It takes three of us to make up for what she accomplished. Beyond that, just the fact that April is absent makes Ron very sad because there's no one to protect him from people trying to get into his office and ask him for things.
I watched the blooper reel from Season 4. I couldn't stop laughing. Is set always like that?
Uh, no. I'd say set is only like that 78 percent of the time. The other 22 percent is only amusing - 22 amusing, 78 gut-busting hilarious. We're so spoiled. It's because -- honestly -- it's all just because the writing is so good. That allows us to work fast. We never have to stop and say, "How do we fix this scene?" or "How do we fix this story?" We just say, "Alright, that scene was hilarious, now let's do this next hilarious scene." That gives us time to play with each other and laugh and to embellish things and try and make one another laugh. That's the most fun.
When you just spoke about the writing, it reminded me about how outraged I was that "Parks" wasn't nominated for the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy, but I'm happy it was honored in the writing category.
Yeah, for the first time. That was very gratifying and you know, who cares. Those things are inexplicable. When my mom is outraged every year when I don't get nominated or the show doesn't get nominated, I say, "Well mom, I just want to remind you that if I ever do get nominated, it's the same jackasses that didn't nominate for three years." If I ever get one, then there's going to be 12 other mothers cursing the Emmy voters. It's nice just to be in the position where that's even in the conversation.
Not many men can say that they've had their facial hair auctioned off for charity, so that must be pretty surreal.
It was really ... weird. Somebody jokingly suggested that to me a couple of years ago and I thought, "With the way the Internet has sort of an obsession with Ron Swanson, that just might work. It might just be a great idea to raise some money for charity."
I figured out how to do it. I used to do a lot of my own prosthetic makeup for the theater and so many times in my life I've cast my head in plaster and built pieces. There was a great makeup artist named Mike Mekash I was working with. He works with this place called Tinsley Studio and they're one of the big houses in town. They do all of the high-end monster stuff and vampire movies and stuff, so we just came up with a plan to do it. I have to say, I'm glad it turned out well because it would've been pretty humiliating to go to all the trouble and then it gets auctioned off for $25 to my assistant. I do have to say it all seemed really funny and we pulled it off. He did a beautiful job of preserving it and carefully shaving it off in one piece. Then he cast my face and made like a sort of marble bust of the lower half of my face and then reattached the mustache. Once I actually got the object in my hands, I realized how incredibly creepy it was. The only difference was in anatomical location, but it might as well have been my toenails, you know? I was like, "This is really gross. It's my DNA." But I put my personal feelings aside because it's much more than that, to the fans it's Ron's mustache, which is something I'm down to get behind.
You mentioned the Internet's obsession with Ron Swanson, which is definitely real, what's the best creation that you've seen?
Oh gosh, that's a great question. My wife and I have been tickled pink with all of the art that is inspired by Ron. I don't know, I guess the most magnificent -- there's a great little ceramic piece that looks like -- do you remember the cartoon character "The Shmoo"? Shmoo was like late '80s and he was like a white amoeba-like blob who could take any shape. There's a ceramic figure that's like a little white blob with Ron's hair and mustache. I think he's either holding a coffee cup or a little plate of bacon. My wife really loves that one. So many of the paintings are so cool because they take Ron and then they extrapolate something about him and make this really weird piece of art that is just really fun to see. There's a huge illustrated poster of Ron shirtless. Have you seen that one? He's all sweaty and he has tattoos of Tammy 1 and 2 on his shoulders.
And there are flames and the chest hair is shaped like the mustache?
Yeah. That seems to me, if there was a prize winner, I feel like that's the most magnificent. [Laughs.] It's pretty crazy.
Can you tell me about the show you're doing in Los Angeles? Is it stand-up or a one man show?
I guess it's a one man show. I say that I'm not a stand-up -- I'm a humorist, like a foul-mouthed Garrison Keillor. I've been doing it at colleges across the country this year. It's called "American Ham." It's my 10 tips for prosperity and it's an evening of anecdotes, cautionary tales and song with minor nudity. It's really a lot of fun. It's a new thing for me -- performing as myself -- but we seem to be having a good time, the audience and I.
Do you have any special guests planned?
My wife's new band called Nancy and Beth will be opening for me. They are amazing. It's embarrassing to follow them. They are just so genius. It's [Megan Mullally] and Stephanie Hunt from "Friday Night Lights" and their voices together is just astonishing. If you ever get the chance to see my wife sing on a stage, run don't walk. It's such a gift and we also have a very special surprise guest that night, Sept. 29 at UCLA.
"Parks & Recreation" Season 5 premieres Thurs., Sept. 20 at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC.