Nick Offerman and wife Megan Mullally arrive at a screening of “The Kings of Summer” last week. | Mark Davis~Getty Images
Updated: July 3, 2013 6:24AM
Long before becoming one of the most recognizable character actors on the big and small screen, Nick Offerman was living the boy’s life outside of Joliet.
“I grew up in a little down called Minooka. My mom’s family are still corn and soybean farmers,” he says. “I got to grow up on the family farm, and it was wonderfully Norman Rockwellian.”
“That ended when I heard you could actually get paid to be in plays in Chicago. You. Could. Get. Paid! It was the craziest thing I had ever heard — and the best thing. I knew you could get paid in New York and LA. But I could drive to the city and get paid. Sign me up!”
Offerman is still a long way away from the farm. The “Parks & Recreation” actor stars this summer in both “The Kings of Summer” (opening Friday) and “We’re the Millers” (in August).
In “The Kings of Summer,” three boys declare their independence and decide to spend the summer in the woods. Offerman and his wife Megan Mullally play two of the put-upon parents.
The 42-year-old University of Illinois grad known for his deadpan delivery won a 1997 Joseph Jefferson Citation for “The Kentucky Cycle” at the Pegasus Players. He says his bigger prize is being married to comic actress Mullally.
1 How was life on the farm?
I did grow up in this great farm family with sweet corn, barbecues and chasing girls in the summer, plus we had pigs to raise. It was very Americana. You would work to make money for ice cream on the weekends.
2 “The Kings of Summer” is about breaking away and declaring a little bit of adulthood. Did you ever do that growing up outside of Joliet?
My friends and I had a pretty kick---, two-story treehouse down by the creek. It was nothing compared to the excellent construction of the house these boys build in the woods in this movie. I do however remember sleeping out in the middle of the woods in tents when I was 12. We smoked cigars and would sneak a pint of gin from our Dad’s cabinet. Quite promptly, we would vomit purple, but we still thought it was cool.
3 Is it tough to swallow that you’re old enough now to play a grumpy parent?
It isn’t that shocking? There is something about my face looking like it does that makes me the grumpy guy. I’m generally cast 12 to 15 years old than I am. In this movie, I’m Alison Brie’s dad. I would have to be 11 to have had her in real life, but nobody notices.
So, how does a guy from Joliet conquer Hollywood?
It was kind of disturbing to everyone, including me, that a kid from Joliet was going to be a theater actor. I just had this little voice telling me to entertain people. I really loved being in plays in high school, and then I found out that I could actually study theater in college. This was shocking for a kid who basically went to Chicago every Christmas to see ‘Nutcracker’ at McCormick. I would dream of being up there. I just never imagine that someday I could get paid to be in a David Mamet play in the city. At the University of Illinois, I did study hard and they did their best with me.
5 How cool is it to be married to Megan Mullally?
She’s something else. She has been my hero for as long as I’ve known her. We met doing a play in L.A. and I fell for her heart. The truth is I pursued her for months. She did not give it up easily. She made me work for the ultimate conquest. Before our play even closed, I knew I’d be marrying her if I had anything to say about it. And I did.
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