At first glance, one wouldn’t expect macho-looking actor Nick Offerman to care about being polite. But the star of NBC’s Parks and Recreation attributes his niceness to getting ahead in the industry.
In an interview with GQ, Offerman was happy to share some rules he thinks will help people in Hollywood. “I would say, first of all, be prepared. I can’t say enough about that. Right now I’m traveling in New York City, but I still have my Swiss army knife on me. I grew up among farmers in Illinois and so you always have to have the tools you might need in the eventuality of a flat tire or a broken window. In the traditional role of man, it falls to you to keep the weather out and fish in the boat,” he said.
“Two: be polite. Good manners have gotten me as far as anything else in this business. The first film I did, Chain Reaction, was with Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman. I had some really nice scenes as Keanu’s building super, which were then completely cut from the film. Anyway, at the end of my day on set, I hung up my costume in the trailer, and the wardrobe assistant came to pick it up. I said something involving please and thank you. She stopped, put her hands on her heart, and said, ‘Can I just say thank you so much for treating me like that, and for hanging up your clothes?’ I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ And it quickly became clear, as I continued working, that having manners was equivalent to a superpower in the business.”
But after 20 years working as an actor, Offerman thinks things might actually be improving. “On Parks, for example, there’s kind of a No Assholes rule,” he said. “You cannot get away with diva behavior on our set. It certainly does exist in the industry, but it’s not as prevalent. You can see it in the cars. When young people come into money in Hollywood these days, they no longer buy the muscle car, they buy the Prius. It’s amazing to me, the parking row at my show—all these 26-year-old wunderkinds who went to Harvard or Brown and, boom, in three years they’re on the writing staff of Parks. And literally it’s a fleet of Priuses on the lot. That gives me a lot of hope that we’re evolving.”