Before he was cast as anti-government, mid-level city employee Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation, Nick Offerman’s career was just how Swanson prefers his: unnoticed and unassuming.
Until a couple of years ago, the 41-year-old earned his keep as a journeyman actor in Los Angeles and Chicago, never aspiring for more and always leaving time for his woodworking – again, just how Swanson makes it through life.
“I’d been making a really nice living for about 10 years here in L.A. I always felt successful just doing that… I wasn’t well known in the public, but I was a dependable working journeyman,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview.
“I was working more than all the people I knew from college and my Chicago theater community, so I didn’t notice that I wasn’t ‘successful’ enough. When I got my job on Parks, it was so dreamy, kind of unfathomable. I didn’t think a job that excellent could exist for me.” Offerman has an explanation for why he and Swanson, Parks department head in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, have so much in common. “Ron is always inside me, waiting to exact his righteous indignation. There’s a little bit of my dad and grandfather and every school principal I’ve ever come in contact with in Ron,” he explained about his character, a Libertarian who despises the capital gains tax and would eat bacon-covered steak all day if he wasn’t busy making sure the government doesn’t spend too much of its citizens’ money.
Now that he’s finally getting recognized for his talents, what advice does Offerman have for those actors still paying their dues? “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that there is absolutely no better training ground than the theater. And the most important thing I learned from working SAG jobs is simply … patience,” he said. “If you’re an original thinker, you are going get told no a lot, and you have to be able to hear no many times from the bankers and trust that at some point, someone is going to recognize that you are an artist and not a can of soda.”