Unless you happened to catch NBC’s accidental February promo spilling the beans, last week’s insta-wedding of Andy and April on Parks and Recreation was a genuine (and insanely sweet) surprise. Because Parks wrapped production on this season’s episodes late last year, the show’s writers and cast had to keep the nuptials secret for months. Now that the knot has been tied, however, they’re free to talk — so Vulture called up groom Chris Pratt to ask him about the genesis of this blessed twist. Also on the agenda for this Transcript: A discussion of why everyone in Pawnee is so nice (and why some folks in Hollywood aren’t), his penchant for physical comedy, and some surprising revelations about co-stars Aubrey Plaza and Jim “Jerry” O’Heir. Wait, you want more awesomesauce? Okay: There’s also a candid confession about his feelings toward his Moneyball co-star Brad Pitt, as well as an out-of-the-blue cameo from wife Anna Faris.
So you filmed all of this season’s shows last year. You had to keep Andy and April’s wedding under your hat forever.
We shot this months — maybe eight or nine months ago. In doing press for the show, people would say, “What’s coming up for April and Andy?” And you just found yourself having to lie to them: “Uh, nothing really.” We wanted to keep it secret. We wanted it to be a pleasant surprise. NBC almost screwed it up, though. After “Ron and Tammy, Part Two,” they aired a promo that was like, “Go to NBC.com for Andy and April’s wedding!” We were like, “No! Shit!” They sort of solved the problem by sorta lying and saying it was supposed to be for Ron and Tammy. But still: We love you, NBC! Thank you [for the early renewal].
Andy’s come a long way since season one, when he was a guy living in an outdoor pit. But he’s still just as sweet and unjaded as ever. As are most of the citizens of Pawnee.
I read something — I think it was on Vulture! — about how the comedy’s grounded in optimism, and it’s not cynical or snarky, and the characters all try to help each other. And I think that’s right. The show really captures the essence of a small town. Most of the writers in TV are from L.A. or New York, and those are places where people are cynical and snarky. And they fly from L.A. to New York in an airplane over this vast, expansive land where people aren’t snarky; they’re a lot more like the Parks and Rec characters. They have big hearts. And I like that: It’s a good place to ground comedy right now. It makes you feel good to watch that. It’s got to be a real challenge for the writers, because it’s way easier to be funny when you’re being cynical and snarky. And also: [Schur and Daniels] are just really nice, genuine well-adjusted people. Everyone on our set is. It almost never happens where you get … that sense of family. People treat each other very well.
Was that the case on the other two shows on which you had a regular role? Everwood and The OC?
Both OC and Everwood, there were people on set where you learned to stay away from them on a bad day. You just never knew going on the set if someone was going to be an asshole or not. I’m not going to get into who those people were. And I’m actually friends with them. Nobody would really be an asshole to me. But you can never really judge someone’s character by how they treat their fellow cast members. It’s how they treat the crew or their producers or the revolving door of directors who come in. Both shows I’ve been on, it’s been nothing like this. Some of it is Greg and Mike, but it all starts with Amy. She’s the captain. She has the ability to be angry, with righteous anger. She’s no pushover. But she commands respect. And I’ve never, ever seen her raise her voice or get pissed off. And she’s still getting shit done.
Did the mood on set change when a Big Hollywood Star like Rob Lowe joined the cast?
No. He’s another example of someone who’s had success that’s spanned several decades, and yet he’s just really balanced and well-adjusted and nice. It’s really rare. I think it’s just the way we roll on this set. And he falls right into that. People realize how great we have it. Maybe it’s because we’ve been working our asses off to stay on the air. Up until now, we’ve always been sitting on a giant bubble. Right from the beginning it was like, “Oh, fuck, there’s a good chance this could be our last week.” At the end of season one Parks and Rec, you hug the people really, really fucking tight because you just don’t know.
That’s not typical for Hollywood.
There’s so much bullying that goes on in television, and in comedy especially. It’s like “Rah-rah-fuck you” bullying and cock-blocking. There are comedy cock-blockers at every turn in this town. Backstage at comedy clubs, and I’m sure on the sets of other shows, so many comics are just fucking miserable. If someone says something funny, and you have a higher number on the call sheet, you don’t laugh at their joke because it’s like, “I’m the only one who gets to be funny around here.” It’s not like that around here. Amy laughs at everyone’s jokes.
What would surprise me about some of your Parks colleagues?
Jim O’Heir [who plays office scapegoat Jerry] has a really raunchy sense of humor. He’s the king of the shock joke and making people feel uncomfortable, intentionally. For a guy who plays such a nice guy on TV, when the cameras aren’t rolling, he’s got a way of being funny in a way that’s so not Jerry. He’ll do a throwaway line about some sexual act he just performed. He kills me every day, he’s so funny.
Anything surprising about Aubrey?
There’s a very clear difference between the character of April and who Aubrey is in real life. She’s incredibly accomplished. Her shtick, even in the real world, is somewhat similar to April. But that’s not who she is. She’s very intelligent and she cares about people a lot. If you get a chance to see the real her, consider yourself lucky, because that means she likes you. She just doesn’t open up to everybody. She hardly ever breaks character, even on panels or public things.
So she’s a little Andy Kaufman?
Can you give me an example of something that shows more of the real Aubrey?
She’s from the East Coast, so she had never had a driver’s license. So she had just gotten her license when she got pulled over. The cop asked her for license and registration. And she just handed him everything in the glove compartment, including the receipt for the car. But she hadn’t registered the car. The cop says to her, “You don’t have any tags.” And she says, “Why not?” The cop found it adorable and let her go without a ticket.
How did you become the go-to guy for physical comedy on Parks?
I think it started out when I kept pushing the writers to put me on rollerblades. Because I think any man over 250 pounds rollerblading is instant hilarity. There’s nothing funnier than a giant, grown man rollerblading. So they started doing that and it got laughs.
What’s the key to a good pratfall?
The only way physical comedy works is if you don’t see it coming. And the harder the fall, the funnier it is. You have to really take some shots, and I’ve walked away with some bumps and bruises. There was a scene this season [in episode two, “Flu Season”] where I do a diving catch over a car. So I ran as hard as I could into the car; the idea was to let the car take my legs out instead of jumping. My midsection — mainly my hip — took the impact. And I did something like $1,600 damage into a Dodge Charger. The transport guy was laughing his ass off. It also hurt my balls for a good 30 seconds.
That episode, “Flu Season,” was a high point for the Ron and Andy bromance. Are you and Nick Offerman tight off-camera?
We totally have a very committed off-screen bromance. Sometimes we sit down and tête-à-tête. I feel like James Spader and William Shatner at the end of Boston Legal, just having cigars and a whiskey and talking about the day. Hanging out with Nick can do one of two things: It can make you feel very manly — or make you feel not manly at all. I’m one of the guys who gets to feel manly. We get to talk about manly shit. Because we’re dudes. Although, on the man scale, I still pale in comparison to him. He’s a ten.
Where’s Aziz on the manly scale?
His love of good food makes him pretty manly. But his Brooks Brothers boys’ suits take him down a few notches. So I’m not sure exactly where he lands.
So are offspring in the future for the newlyweds?
We’ve talked about a baby. But Mike sorta said, “Yeah, but then they’re going to have a baby. And they’re dealing with a baby, and they grow up too fast.” They want us to be married like third graders, where it’s, “Oh, if you like her so much why don’t you marry her?” and “Okay, fine, I will!” There’s something very childlike about their relationship. It’s very pure and innocent.
What future plot developments can you share?
This is a spoiler alert, but: Adam Scott’s character is going to move in with Andy and April. It’s really awesome. Adam’s going to come in and try to help us become adults. In the process, Andy and April get to trash a Bed Bath and Beyond. There’s more growing up that has to happen for April and Andy, with the help of Ben Wyatt. There’s also a burger cook-off between Ron Swanson and Chris Traeger to see if Chris’s turkey burger — or maybe it’s a veggie burger — can taste better than a regular hamburger. Also, Tom and Leslie accidentally get matched up on some dating website and have to consider whether or not they’re right for each other.
Anything big for Andy and April? Not that a wedding isn’t a lot of drama for one season.
Yes. Very big. April … Oh, honey, aren’t you just the best! [Pratt’s wife, Anna Faris, can be heard giving Pratt something.]
Is that the lovely Anna Faris?
Yes, it is the lovely Anna Faris. She just served me two sausages and coffee! Jesus, I’m so lucky. [To Faris.] This is so good, darling. Honey, I love you.
Faris: I love you.
Pratt: Okay, where did I leave off? So, in the finale, April’s going to become a bigger part of Andy’s creative life. But I can’t give away how.
Since she’s in the room: Will Anna be on Parks and Rec at all?
We’ve been talking about it. She would love to do it, and the creators want to do it. The question is what she’ll play. They’re trying to find a way where we could play together, but not where she’s my ex. That would be the obvious idea, but they can’t do that because Megan and Nick touched perfection already.
So is “awesomesauce” a word which originated with Andy? Or was it already in the lexicon?
I don’t know. I’d never heard of it before. It has kind of become a thing, hasn’t it? Oh my God, I have a catchphrase! I hope when I have kids and I’m walking around, someone comes up to me and asks me to say, “Awesomesauce.” And then I can be like, “Fuck you! I was in Moneyball, too!”
Speaking of which, how was Moneyball? A drama starring Brad Pitt: It seems like quite a departure for you.
It was unlike anything I’d ever done, not only tonally but the whole experience. I had to immerse myself in baseball. I had to learn how to hit a fastball left-handed and lose a bunch of weight. It was a huge challenge and felt so rewarding because I’d never really done straight drama.
Was working with Brad surreal?
It was. But you don’t allow yourself the chance to have that surreal moment. In retrospect, I do think I wish I had broken for a second, and just said to myself, “That’s fucking Brad Pitt!” But in my quest to be professional, I never gave myself that moment. I felt it knocking at the door a lot. But he’s so cool. And goddamn, he’s good-looking.
Who’s more handsome: Brad Pitt or Rob Lowe?
They’re both beautiful, like statues. But I’m gonna be honest: I’d fuck ‘em both.
Related: Chris Pratt’s Weight-Gain Tips