“There’s no greater recompense than the live audience telling you that you’re delivering the medicine, and then their response is my medicine, and for me that’s the greatest” – Nick Offerman on Theater
From the mind of 5-year-old Malachai Nicolle and his brother, comic book artist
Ethan Nicolle, comes Axe Cop. Now in its second season on FXX, the show executive produced and starring the voice of Nick Offerman, follows the adventures of an axe-wielding police officer dedicated to killing the various bad guys he comes across.
Nick Offerman as an animated cop who kills big bad guys with an axe? I’m there.
Offerman and Ethan Nicolle recently did a conference call to promote season two of the show where they talked about the art of handling an axe, his famous mustache and love of live theater.
Check out ‘Axe Cop’, part of Animation Domination, Thursday night’s on FXX at midnight.
Is Axe Cop inspired by a character from somebody that you know or from a movie?
Nick Offerman: That’s a good one for Ethan.
Ethan Nicolle: I mean, I guess the look, the actual look of Axe Cop because it all started just with my brother saying, can we play Axe Cop? And, he had a toy axe, so from there I just kind of—I drew an axe, and that’s just—has always kind of been my standard cop that I would draw just because they always have that mustache, aviator glasses, the hat. So, just kind of like a Burt Reynolds 70’s cop was just kind of what I was going for. There’s not like a real person that it’s based on.
Nick, in the past with other characters say, like a “Ron Swanson,” you’ve had stuff in common, I heard that you like doing woodwork in real life, like he likes, too. What can you relate to, in terms of Axe Cop? What do you have in common with the character of Axe Cop?
Nick Offerman: Gosh, well I think once Ethan and I got together, he began to draw from my own life. I often wear a cat suit at night in the house. Mine is not black. I’m more of an autumn, so I go with earth tones. I’m ape s*** about birthday cake, and I’m really handy with an axe. My dad taught me to use an axe, and keep it sharp and maintained, never let a spot of rust get on your axe head.
Since you are a renowned woodworker, is there a preferred tool for law enforcement that isn’t an axe?
Nick Offerman: Well, from the cannon of woodworking, it’s never a bad idea to have a small chisel secreted away, perhaps, in your boot in case you need to quickly [indiscernible] your way out through a door or window sash. And, I suppose a—they make this great Cub Scout tool that I’m crazy about. It’s a length of sharply toothed chain that you can coil it up, and put it in your back pocket. It’s like a—it’s a thin metal cable, and then it has a ring on either end, so you can wrap it around a tree, and by pulling it back and forth, you can saw through a tree. In truth, that’s the most MacGyver item in my shop, I believe.
Other than that, there are many tools in a woodworker’s tool box that can be used to bludgeon bad guys quickly to death.
Before I saw this show, if I were to envision you as an animated character, I would say that it’s pretty close to Axe Cop. So, of all your great co-stars in your other past projects, who would you be most interested in seeing as an animated cop character, and what would be their weapon of choice?
Nick Offerman: Gosh. It’s a hard one with a long stretch [ph]. Well, I’ve always—my favorite actor is a lady named Megan Mullally, and I’ve always thought it’d be really funny to put a mustache on her and make her a sheriff in a western. She’s got a heck of a swagger, and I suppose—she doesn’t like guns. She’s not a fan of the firearm, so I believe I’d give her the—do you remember that movie Walking Tall with Joe Don Baker from the 70’s?
He makes himself a cudgel the size of an ox’s foreleg. I’d give her something like that, perhaps a large shillelagh. She would walk softly and carry a heck of a big stick.
Do you watch TV and if so, what?
Nick Offerman: Gosh. Well, mine’s—now, Ethan, you start thinking now, and mine’s easy. I greatly enjoy the wealth of the menu of available television these days is just an embarrassment of riches. But from my own part, all of the very fortunate opportunities that have come my way really have killed my TV time, and the last few years it’s all I can do to watch Parks and Rec, and then Childrens Hospital, and Axe Cop, the things that my wife and I work on.
If I could take a vacation and just watch TV, I would binge watch Game of Thrones, and the show Ax Men that I’ve not—which I now realize is connected; it’s all connected. I keep hearing about Ax Men, and I can’t begin to watch it because I know it’ll be like getting sucked into a video game, I’ll go underground for a month, and won’t come up, but it’s crazy.
I mean, all of the amount of great comedy [indiscernible] me right now, it’s astonishing. [Indiscernible] is amazing, and Broad City, and Last Man on Earth, I catch pieces of those everywhere I can. Brooklyn Nine-Nine, forget about it.
Ethan Nicolle: I have an obsession with shows about people who think they like almost died, but then didn’t, like I Shouldn’t Be Alive, I Survived, Surviving Evil, Locked Up Abroad, all of these reality shows, who’s just a person sitting there telling their crazy story where they had a gun pointed at their head and they got away or something. So, I don’t know why, but I’m just like obsessed with those. I watch them like any time a new one pops up on Netflix, I’m watching it.
Outside of that, I really like American Pickers, but I don’t know why. I just like old stuff. I like seeing old stuff and seeing them find it, and Better Call Saul, I like Breaking Bad, and I’m really loving—I love the new Daredevil on Netflix. It’s really awesome.
You’ve done stuff like Gravity Falls and The Lego Movie and Axe Cop. Which do you enjoy? Which do you prefer, voice acting or real acting?
Nick Offerman: Gosh. Well, first of all, I just want to say in response to Ethan’s last answer, I thought you were being funny when you listed those shows, and then I realized you weren’t, that those must be real shows, and they [indiscernible].
Ethan Nicolle: They are.
Nick Offerman: So, if I had to pick one form of acting, it would be live theater. That’s where I started; that’s where I became a man, ordinarily so—I think I’m still finishing up that job. But, my wife also started in theater, and there’s just nothing more—
But, between being seen in my performance or just having my voice work, they’re pretty different. I mean, I don’t know that I could choose between them because one is more like a—doing voice work is more like recording music that people are going to listen to. You’re creating an oral experience using whatever bells and whistles you have in your voice, and you’re intending—you can shut your eyes and use your imagination and nobody’s going to see if the faces you make don’t match the voices you make. And, so that’s a lot of fun.
And, there’s an element of make believe to it, and so in The Lego Movie, for example, I was really happy to get to do this Metalbeard voice that was really strange and somewhat Anglican. I was comforted that they let me not sound like “Ron Swanson” or “Axe Cop,” so that’s a lot of fun. But, I’m a very pretty 12-year-old girl inside like anybody else, so I want people to see my cute haircut, as well.
Some animated shows have the cast record altogether, and some have them, like Archer, have them record separately. Do you guys record separately or together?
Nick Offerman: We generally—only in very rare instances do a couple people get together, but the nature of our show is such between the four most prevalent characters, Axe Cop and Ken Marino as “Flute Cop”, Rob Huebel, as “Grey Diamond,” and the effervescent Patton Oswalt as “Sockarang,” we’re all running around like complete ***holes.
Trying to find our fannies with both hands, and so it’s always—the most desperate scramble and impressive feat of every episode is simply that they manage to record each of us. I mean, I’ve done Axe Cop this year alone in London, Cape Town, South Africa, Calgary, Los Angeles and New York.
So, I cannot get those guys to travel with me, and plead as I might, so it’s—I think it’s a lot more fun—I know I’ve done some Bob’s Burgers, which I would add that to the list of the things I try not to miss. I think that’s such an excellent show, and they often have a group of actors together, and that’s a lot of fun. It’s a luxury if people’s schedules permit it, but the great thing is when you get in the room together, then you start screwing around, and you end up with an extra level of tomfoolery.
Nick, your mustache has kind of become like a pop culture icon in and of itself, and I remember watching an interview where you said it’s not about having a mustache or not having it, it’s the journey that it takes to grow one. Is there a favorite part of that journey for you?
Nick Offerman: No. I mean, the topic of my mustache is a rather insipid one that I’m very grateful that really as a result of the great writing of Parks and Recreation, somehow my mustache came out on top, and my mustache is actually represented by CAA, and I have to be careful what I say on its behalf. But, I’m lucky I guess that I—my hair and whiskers, and also all of my fingernails and toenails continue to grow in a way that is useful and pleasing to me. I hope that continues, but I—when people ask me about it, I do my best to give them something they can write in their journal. And, so to specifically answer your question, I enjoy the entire journey equally.
You know what I enjoy? People say, do you have any tips on growing a mustache like that? I say, yes, there’s one important tip, don’t shave, and that is my favorite part of the journey is I hate shaving. I like to let Mother Nature’s ribbons be unfurled for all the world to see, and so that’s key that I don’t have to shave, scrape my precious soft skin with a sharp piece of steel.
Well, I’m sure you get asked about it all of the time.
Nick Offerman: Well, it’s a funny thing and it’s a—the fact that anyone would ask me about anything reminds me that I’m a very lucky boy with a very lucky job, and so I’m game to have fun with my mustache, as much as the next super cop.