Purpose or Pooltime? (with Nick Offerman)

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When actor Nick Offerman first got together with actress Megan Mullally, she had just won her first Emmy for Will and Grace and he was living in a dirt basement in Silver Lake. They bought a fancy house, he jumped into his new swimming pool and got through about a song and a half before realizing he couldn’t lay around smoking weed and listening to Neil Young all day. Sam asks Nick how he brings purpose into his life no matter what he’s doing, from grocery shopping to starring in a new film like Civil War. They also discuss his method for choosing projects and which writers and thinkers he admires most.

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Samantha Bee, Nick Offerman

Samantha Bee  00:00

I am pretty sure if you grow one single strawberry or tomato it will be the best strawberry or tomato you have ever had in your entire life. Of course, chances are that right is it’s about to be ripe enough to eat a sneaky little mix of a squirrel is gonna swallow it whole while staring into your eyes through the window. But if you are lucky enough to taste it, it will be the best thing you have ever eaten. Ask me about the peanut I grew one time when I was in grade school, it has a tragedy. Now it is 2024. I know we can’t all grow every piece of food we consume. But it’s more important than ever that we try to know where our food is coming from. I don’t mean you need to know the middle name of your Uber eats delivery driver, but hey, you know what, that’s nice too. But I do have some serious choice words for the dire situation of our food ecosystem. When we pay such little attention to how food is planted, cultivated, grown, harvested, delivered and prepared. We inflict upon the world extreme labor issues, health issues, environmental issues, technology issues, financial issues, you name it all in the name of what like a slightly cheaper hamburger. I don’t know, man. Here’s the thing, food is fuel. But it doesn’t need to come with the same hazardous conditions of actual literal fuel. I really do believe that we can grow food in a more responsible way. A way that preserves more of our water resources, puts fewer pollutants into the air employs fairer labor standards, all while being nutritious and delicious. But like all common goods, it will take all of us buying in and demanding positive change. So yeah, it’s not gonna happen by lunch, but we could go in a direction, I’m hopeful.


Samantha Bee  02:06

This is Choice Words, I’m Samantha Bee. My guest today is the incredible actor and author Nick Offerman, you know Dec from shows like Parks and Rec, and The Last of Us in his new movies Civil War is out April 12. We talked about how important it is that we care more about where our food comes from and how we should be more responsible stewards of the earth. I love Nick, I could listen to that silky voice all day long. So take a listen and make good choices.


Nick Offerman  02:48

Hello, hello there.


Samantha Bee  02:50

Hello, how are you?


Nick Offerman  02:52

I’m very well thank you. I’m so excited to see you and talk with you. I’ve considered you a heroic personage for many years now.


Samantha Bee  03:02

Oh, boy, the feeling is very mutual. And, um, you know what is funny, because I’ve enjoyed watching you as an actor, so many projects. I mean, Parks and Rec, The Last of Us like all the things you do Civil Wars coming, oh my goodness. But actually, even more so than that, acting work. I just enjoy hearing you talk. Is that okay for me to say?


Nick Offerman  03:32

Yeah, it’s it’s something that I come by honest, I starting as a teenager, in church and Catholic Church. They had me start doing the readings of the gospel.


Samantha Bee  03:46

They did?


Nick Offerman  03:47

Yeah, I was I was kind of a captain of the altar boys. And somehow, my penchant for for performing or delighting the masses manifested itself and people would say, Oh, you we’d like the way it sounds when you when you read from Philippians.


Samantha Bee  04:11

Is that the impetus for all of this? Is that where it all began your level of performance.


Nick Offerman  04:17

I mean, that’s I think that’s the first stage for many.


Samantha Bee  04:22

That’s an honor to read the gospel. That’s that’s a real that’s a feather in your cap.


Nick Offerman  04:27

It was but it was also worried first, I quickly learned my love of deadpan. This, this would have been the mid 80s Leslie Nielsen and the Naked Gun movies, were ruling my world. And so I discovered that by being just a little too serious, I could make my friends laugh while everybody else was moved by my rendition.


Samantha Bee  04:53

So you’d have little old ladies just like padding, padding away tears and your friends are just doubled over laughing. You’ve read from, okay. We have, I think, quite a bit in common in terms of our taste in things, we have so much to talk about. And at the end of this I need, there’s anyway, I’m just gonna, I’m gonna dive right in, because there’s too much to get to, for me to waste time.


Nick Offerman  05:24



Samantha Bee  05:24

Entering, as you probably know, I do start every conversation by talking about the concept of choice, making choices. And I will ask you about big ones that you’ve made, but the idea or like, the concept of choice means something really different to everyone, are you? How do you? How does it sit in your body? When you have a really big decision to make? I just feel good? Is that where you thrive?


Nick Offerman  05:54

That’s a it’s a great question, and then I love that I love this, this framework for a conversation. It usually for me comes down to every choice kind of comes down to selfishness versus selflessness. And quite often, because I’ve been married, I’ve been with Megan for 24 years. It’s either my family or my closest friends are most often my household, like, should I say yes to this big job, that’s going to take me away from home for three months, versus the cost to my household to, to my marriage. And so, since we’re both working professional entertainers and mounted banks, for a long time, those are the big choices in our lives. And so they usually make me feel some, like this morning, I became aware of a big choice I have to make, and it initially makes me feel uneasy, because the passions began to swirl around within me. And the selfish, the baby passions that want their milk in their their pacifier or saying, buddy, someone’s offering you milk. And, and but but but then, you know, real life responsibilities rear themselves and say, Hey, you, you’re pretty good on milk. You don’t want for milk? And so, so initially, when it’s a big decision, I have a feeling of unease. And usually because I have good parents. Usually the responsible choice wins.


Samantha Bee  07:49

The responsible choice. So what are the criteria that you when you when a job comes through for your job as offered to let’s say, what are some of the criteria you use are like, does it take me away from home for too long? Like is the financial benefit? Like what does that do?


Nick Offerman  08:06

Well, the versus sort of, it’s a little easier maybe to talk about the things that are that cause it to be a no.


Samantha Bee  08:16



Nick Offerman  08:17

When Megan and I first got together and sort of became serious, she had just, she had just won her first Emmy for Wheeling Grace in the year 2000. And she was a fancy Goddess of Broadway. And I was literally living in a dirt basement in Silver Lake in Los Angeles.


Samantha Bee  08:38

With a dirt floor?


Nick Offerman  08:39

For an actual dirt floor, yeah, the deal was that I would like render the space livable in exchange for living in it for my friends. And so I had a lot of class shock, and a lot of really hard hurdles to get over, in sort of allowing myself as an aspiring actor who was a full time carpenter to sort of like live with an Emmy winning Goddess of comedy and, and, and, and beauty. And, and so suddenly, I got my first TV pilot, a very funny show for Fox called Secret Service. And I’m a pretty medium sized person, but I was a football player and like, I could I think I could pass as a small secret service agent. The rest of the rest of the cast of this show looked like a group of models of like, of young gazelles put together.


Samantha Bee  09:47

Oak trees, oak trees, just ants, but gorgeous.


Nick Offerman  09:52

We hope that the Secret Service would never see the show because it would have been insulting to them, but so I suddenly it was it was huge egg suddenly got a pilot and it was going to shoot in Toronto. And Megan said, hey, man, what if this show goes, are you going to go live in Toronto for six months? And so suddenly, I was faced with this crazy choice. And I was pretty sure the show wouldn’t go, it didn’t have all of the all of the requirements that would make you think this has a chance.


Samantha Bee  10:28



Nick Offerman  10:29

With all due respect to those involved. But from that, Megan, and I made our two week rule. So we have this two week rule in our marriage, and this is coming back around to answer your question is, when we get offered any sort of job, we decided together to make our marriage our first priority, rather than our career. And so we never shrug at each other and say, come on, honey it’s Frodo Baggins, like, how can I say no, to three years in New Zealand? And so you know, so those are the kinds of things where the first and foremost, I say, how does this reconcile with with Megan and my household, and then and then you sort of you touched on, I heard the word financial come out of you. I also just passed on an opportunity that would have been that I, I thought I was leaning into for about a month, it was a it was to endorse a product. And it was lucrative. And I thought, well, the luchar, the root word of lucrative is luchar. And that is filthy money with which I like to live my bed and my nest, and eventually, I had a couple, either late at night going to bed or first thing in the morning, when something’s not right, in my world, a wake up. And that’s the first thing I think of where this, this product was like, hey, man, are you really going to like tell the world that you should consume this product that you don’t, that you don’t use?


Samantha Bee  12:17

That you don’t use? Like, you really want to tell the world to invest in crypto? Like, are you, really?


Nick Offerman  12:25

Are you a big crypto and so and so, and so I passed on it, I called my agent and said, you know, what, if I took this opportunity, it would be simply for the greed of taking the extra money. And I’m lucky enough to make a good living without, and I hate him to do that. And so, so those are the things I you know, I’m as flawed and sinful as your average person. But I do try to like, check in with my values when facing big decisions.


Samantha Bee  12:58

I think that is so needed by more people, actually. Like, I often find that doing something like when there’s when the only quest when you have sort of enough when you when you know that you have enough. And if like questing for more than enough is for sits in my body is so weird that it never works. It is not it just is brings such negativity, like into my, it’s so funny that you say that. It’s just like the when you wake up in the morning, if the first thing you think about, and you get a little pit in the bottom of your stomach, because you’re like a novice does wrong for me, then you have to say no to it.


Nick Offerman  13:46

I am grateful for for those signals. And I mean, like I said, I’m Megan and I don’t live in a hut. We we live a luxurious life. But where we all draw that line, it is fascinating. It’s the kind of thing that begs the question like we do give of our time and our earnings to causes that we support. So it’s finding a balance between those things, but I’m grateful for that internal alarm system that says no, no, no, no, this this way go the billionaire’s, this is not the path for you.


Samantha Bee  14:25

Right, I was trying to explain to my kids the other day, and this is so I don’t know, maybe this is bad for me to say but I’m like hardly anybody makes a billion dollars and did so ethically like in the I was saying to them no one should be a billionaire on this earth. There should not be any of them. There shouldn’t be any. And I can only think of maybe Taylor Swift got there without exploiting people but she might be the only one.


Nick Offerman  14:56

that I mean yeah, there it’s it’s it’s one of those things I, and this is where my my very good parents come into it. They my whole family in the small town of maduka, Illinois, there are about 40 family members within an eight mile radius. And Megan and I are the only ones that don’t live there. The whole family, our farmers, teachers, nurses, paramedics, librarians, they lead lives of service, and my brother serves craft beer to the public, so he’s the, he’s the king of the town. And my dad is legitimately the mayor of the town. But the but the whole aunts and uncles of the whole family are the school board the Lions Club, they are exemplary and to be the Jackass who like danced my way off to Hollywood. And, and, um, you know, part of what I do is like engage in storytelling that I seek out that feels medicinal in some way. Sometimes it’s overt, where it’s like an Ava DuVernay movie, or you know, something that just has a clear, open minded progressive message. Sometimes it’s the stupidest possible comedy, that’s just going to make people laugh. And that, as we know, is also great medicine in its own right. But all of these things to, to then hold my head up around my family.  This another those are it’s another factor that comes into my decision making. But, to wit, with what you said about billionaires is, for me, I’ve been so incredibly fortunate, but I do have the I do have the ability to recognize that I want my income to come from the visible productivity. Like I want to earn my money I don’t want to participate necessarily in the in the fictional world of the global economy, the sort of this this global fiction. I like to perform a duty I like to create a work of art or build you a table and receive income from that. That’s my preference.


Samantha Bee  17:14

We’ll be right back with Nick Offerman after this.


Samantha Bee  17:38

When you speak when I’ve heard you talk when I’ve heard you talk in podcasts, you are that productivity sings through every conversation, how what a productive person you are, how you work with your hands. You’re a fine woodworker. You’ve created a company of woodworkers you put value back you’re a value added. Is that fair to say?


Nick Offerman  18:05

Well, I I try, that’s my that’s what I aspire to. My dear friend Jeff Tweedy puts it beautifully when he says simply that he wants to, he wants to create more than he destroys. And then the final reckoning, I want my bill to be in the black I don’t want to owe the world I want to come out ahead. And again, it comes from my family, they always at every opportunity. When they enter a room they they say okay, is everybody good? Does everybody have a beer? Does everybody have a sandwich? And only then can they rest, and I’m I will never be as good as my mom and dad but I’m, I’m grateful that I have them to aspire to. And I’ve when I first got with Megan and we bought our first house. I was still kind of you know, an aspiring actor. And I thought I finally have made it. I now live inside of David Lee Roth video in the Hollywood Hills.


Samantha Bee  19:16



Nick Offerman  19:18

I have a I have a pool, like what MTV taught me to aspire to, I’m here, my wife’s going off to work at her hit NBC sitcom. I’m going to smoke a joint and float in my swimming pool in the Hollywood Hills and listen to some Neil Young and I did it I put on Neil Young’s record, everybody knows this is nowhere fittingly and and got in the pool and got through about a song and a half before I thought, well, what are you just going to lay around all day like, are you going to become some sort of asshole now that you married a successful person? And I was so grateful that I tried it for a song and a half and thought, oh no, no matter how well I’m doing, what gives my life meaning is being of service is, is doing something with the I’ve been given this miracle gift of a body with opposable thumbs, and coordination and a brain and a heart. And so I’m not good at laying around and like buying a yacht and smoking cigars.


Samantha Bee  20:32

You know, he lasted, come on, he lasted a whole song and a half.


Nick Offerman  20:35

I do.


Samantha Bee  20:36

I mean, most people will just like, run out and buy themselves leather pants at that point. I’m glad you didn’t.


Nick Offerman  20:43

I am, too, I just I don’t I understand the human the human condition, you know, that leans towards laziness. And like, gosh, I’d love to just stay in my bed. It’s really comfy in there. And I’ve tried that for a day or two in my youth or in you can invite intoxicants into the recipe. Like maybe I should just smoke a ton of weed and go to the movies all the time. And all of these indulgences, like many desserts are fun and delightful. But then as you begin to only eat cake, everything breaks down the world is like no man, that’s there’s a reason that it’s a little portion at the end of the courses. And so, you know, I’m grateful to have learned to fill my life with productivity, and then reserve dessert for dessert time.


Samantha Bee  21:40

I think it’s, I find it very relaxing, almost like a meditation to hear you speak about these things. Because the world at large is so acquisitive, and that is everywhere. It is literally everywhere. And it’s actually very hard. It’s it’s a practice, to defend yourself against this feeling that acquisition is required at every moment of the day, which is actually very American. No offense to America.


Nick Offerman  22:15

Well, we’re American, we’re just the best at it, I mean.


Samantha Bee  22:18

It’s the best.


Nick Offerman  22:19

It’s very human we all lean towards, towards accumulation. And and you know, being being good consumers, you know, we love to see the Billboard, and say yum. And then press a button and say, you’re right, this, this soda beverage is delicious. I’m having one and a smile, and I’m loving it.


Samantha Bee  22:46

Loving it.


Nick Offerman  22:47

And like I can totally tap into that I get it I understand how susceptible we are to chemically engineered delights of every sort. I can only and the only reason that I’m not doing Carl’s Jr. Commercials is because when I was like 25, somebody handed me a book of Wendell Berry short stories. He’s my favorite writer. He’s a Kentucky farmer, who I believe is 90 at the moment. And his work is full of a beautiful common sense. And sense of fidelity to simply our natural resources to looking around us and saying, who made this Coca Cola? Who made these Nike shoes were who made this Crate and Barrel furniture? How was it sourced? Where did it come from? In fact, were who made this electricity like and are they being cool? Like I’m sending all these people my money? And are they being cool? In like, there’s there’s this tacit agreement of like, I’m going to send you my power bill. And you’re like, you’re not going to be an asshole, right? You wouldn’t blow the top off a mountain or like, destroy a community. I’m going to buy your cheeseburgers, you wouldn’t destroy rural towns and farms, would you with your industrial beef operations? And of course, we’re, we’ve come to learn that there are people who, who would blow the top off a mountain.


Samantha Bee  24:25

Oh, easily. I would say that the majority of companies will happily blow the top off a mountain and run railway through a rural community just to make the beef chain somehow like one second more efficient. I do appreciate this kind of like it’s a kind of an agrarian way of looking at the world through that lens of like, oh, well, where does this lead back to? Like, where did this thing come from? Um, how did this originate? Which really reminds me of another author that you have talked about Michael Pollan and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which is a book that also changed my life completely, completely upended my life. For the better, I mean, up ended as the wrong word. It was revolutionary.


Nick Offerman  25:18



Samantha Bee  25:19

Can you talk about how these authors have just like shaped her life and your choices, since?


Nick Offerman  25:29

They do very much. My Michaels work, Michael and Wendell, were both. I met and interviewed and wrote about them for my second book, which was called gumption, which is a bunch of, of my heroes, from George Washington to Conan O’Brien, including people that aren’t white guys.


Samantha Bee  25:53

What ?


Nick Offerman  25:54

That’s right. If you can imagine. It’s I spent hours in the Library of Congress. But there are there are both ladies and people of color out there.


Samantha Bee  26:07

Well, I got to get busy reading.


Nick Offerman  26:09

And also non straights. If you give me a second, if you want to write this down.


Samantha Bee  26:16

Just let me process this. Let me get my notepad.


Nick Offerman  26:19

This, so Michael, Michael, actually, I used to be an editor in the 80s and 90s, for Harper’s Magazine. And he was editing Wendell. And Michael, I wanted to get into to gardening based on some of the writing of Wendell Berry, and so Michael then did and started writing, one of his, I think his first or second book is called The Botany of Desire, all of his books are incredible. But he then published a collection of Wendell Berry essays and said, hey, if you like my, you know, huge hit books, I got a lot of these ideas from Wendell Berry. And he got a lot of them from elder Leopold and just this chain of agrarian thinking. And, you know, one of the things I’ve always admired about you and the journalism that you have lived within journalism, that comedy journalism, I don’t, I don’t know what to call it. But in our day and age, you and your cadre of hilarious geniuses have been the greatest source of candor and truth telling, available in popular media. And so that is why I say to you like with with great weight, you have been heroic to me for a long time.


Samantha Bee  27:45

I’m getting shy. Well, Scott, shy, I just got weird.


Nick Offerman  27:49

Just shut your eyes.


Samantha Bee  27:50

That’s how I’m closing. I’m squinting, I’m just I’m staring at my whole face.


Nick Offerman  27:55

Pretend to pretend I’m talking to like Gina Davis, and you’re just listening, I’m on Gayle King. Okay, so the reason that I value your your ilk so much, and these writers were talking about is because I’m not, I’m not a leader. Like I’m a I’m a theatre actor who has like stumbled into writing books and touring and doing funny songs that I write. And a lot of them have this ideology or these these themes within them. Like, it’s the broccoli that I try to stuffed into my pizza wherever possible, so that people say, let’s get some more of offer men’s pizza. And they don’t realize there might be nutrition in it. But so Michael Pollan, for example. I mean, you know, he just woke me up and so many of us to the idea that we should, we should know where our food comes from. And in the same way that we have a tacit agreement with the electric company, we should have a tacit agreement with our food producers to say I’m, I’m giving you my money. You’re my food delivery system. Are you growing this ethically is? Is this are you making this food with my and my family’s health in mind? Or your profits in mind? And I know that both have to exist, but who’s winning?


Samantha Bee  29:25



Nick Offerman  29:26

Michael Pollan does such a beautiful job of blowing the lid off that and he introduced me to Alice Waters, who is involved in a great new documentary coming out called Food Inc., which is a sequel to think something in the neighborhood of Food Inc. And so, I always I’m always quick to point out that I’m not the preacher. I don’t have a farm. You know, I don’t I don’t raise sheep, but I adore shepherds and I love to trump it, their value and the reason everybody should know about them.


Samantha Bee  30:04



Nick Offerman  30:05

To the world.


Samantha Bee  30:06

Yes, I am so deeply in agreement with you there, I just think you have to know where things come from. And even if it’s not necessarily accessible in your life, just, it’s having knowledge, it’s understanding, it’s doing better. If you can, if when you’re able to food is everything, I don’t know, it’s how we it’s the fuel. It’s the stuff of all life. It’s why we can walk this earth, the people who grow food are among the least known, the least lauded in the whole country. And so I love supporting. I love supporting responsible practices, across everything, but especially across the food industry, and oh, my God.


Nick Offerman  30:58

It’s some it’s something that, I hope that in my lifetime, I have caused a shut up about it, because because we get our heads out of our asses, but I, you know, I’m not an optimist. I love humanity, and I love all all of us funny monkeys. But I’m not hopeful for our ability to, to, to set the course of civilization back on the right track from where the Industrial Revolution, and the military industrial complex have taken us, you know, there’s so much infrastructure, and messaging and media, designed to keep us from having this conversation to keep us from informing people, you should know where your food comes from.


Samantha Bee  31:49



Nick Offerman  31:49

So the cheeseburgers you hear about in the beef you hear about that are terrible, they are terrible. They’re, they’re being created in factory settings, they’re polluting, they’re, they’re killing the atmosphere like that, they are just shitting messing and pollutants. They’re they’re absolutely criminal. And then there are good ways to raise all of these food items. And so I don’t have the highest hopes that we as a as a cheeseburger munching people will be will be able to stop the train of bad beef. But that’s not gonna stop me from saying so and continuing to sell to my dying breath. Like, there are there are right ways to do this. And we’re not doing that.


Samantha Bee  32:39

Right, and it is a little bit like how I remember when you know, when VCRs first came out, each VCR was like, $1,000 it was just like, the most exciting piece of equipment that they were like, you have a VCR? Are you fucking kidding me. And then everybody kind of had to buy VCRs and then they cost eventually they cost $11 at CVS to just kind of make it possible for everyone to all the people had to buy $1,000 VCRs to make the $11 VCRs possible and make perhaps that’s a bad example. But I feel like there’s something to just wherever you can, participating in regenerative agriculture, making responsible choices, wherever you are able, and the people who are most stable making those choices the most often to make it accessible, and to make those ideas filter through society.


Nick Offerman  33:41

I think the VCR is a great example because I when I get upset about these issues, I think that I think young people in the same way that the you know generally of course, there are still assholes and always will be but sure, but generally young people couldn’t give a shit about like sexuality for example. They’re like, are you yeah, me and my friend hooked up? Yes, of course we use protection like do you think we’re stupid? Like all of these things that were like, you know, Tipper Gore like died on the Hill of have a rap record. Now kids shrug and I think they had I think that within a couple of generations. These these issues just like the internal combustion engine, like we haven’t figured it out yet. We’ve got electric vehicles we have cool as hell bicycles of every sort. We have weird little single wheel platform a things that you can zoom on, somewhere in there. In a couple generations, people are going to be like, D can you believe people used to heat their homes with coal? Can you believe we used to smoke tobacco on airplanes? Can you believe all of these things? And they’ll be like, can you believe how stupid we were? Because it’s part of civilization as we’re like, you know, it’s great for making plates LED. It’s incredible, it’s so malleable, and it will hold anything you know.


Samantha Bee  35:16

And it keeps your skin so beautifully hell, and that is gorgeous aesthetic.


Nick Offerman  35:22

Keeps the barbers with their leeches in business, it’s win win win.


Samantha Bee  35:26

Well, that is the only that is what gives me a little bit of faith for the future is that I look at my own children. And they think that we our generation is just ridiculous. The things that we did, the way that we grew up, the things that we care about. The values that we hold are so outdated for them. They’re evolving so much faster and to such better people. Which is good, which is good. Not everybody, mind you, of course. You know, which brings me to a little movie that you made called Civil War. What a segue, oh, wow, boy.


Samantha Bee  36:11

And we’ll get to Nick’s new film Civil War right after a short break.


Samantha Bee  36:34

Okay, Civil War takes place in a future dystopian America. You are the president. Things are bad. I will think it would be great if you were the president, but I don’t wish for a Civil War. Did any? Any part of you? Did you hesitate at all to do a creative project that is political in nature at all?


Nick Offerman  36:58

No, no, I didn’t, because the way that I choose projects is, is from the writing.


Samantha Bee  37:05



Nick Offerman  37:05

And Megan, Megan, when things come across our plates, whether it’s theatre or TV or film or a YouTube show. And so I’ve had the extreme good fortune to have directors get in touch with me like Ava DuVernay, who is someone I can think of no one working today, who better represents, like why us hot headed kids go to theater school, because we’re going to perform the era Aristophanes for the masses, and that will show them we’re gonna fix everything with our social medicine. And, and, you know, and some of us are lucky enough to hold to that, because we run into people like Eva, who actually, you know, create a pattern, a tradition of practice of active activism, discipline of like, progressive artworks. And so she’s the kind of person that when I would see when they see us or 13th, or that, you know, we hit stop on the thing, and we’re like, how can we ever? Why can’t we work with this person? Like, sure we have fun doing that this, but like, she’s on the front lines.


Samantha Bee  38:40

And merging art and things you want to see, like merging art and excitement, with content, with like, with meaning, so thoughtful.


Nick Offerman  38:50

Just the work, you know, she did on behalf of the Central Park Five, it was so among so many other things is so fundamental, to our time and so. So I feel the same way about Alex Garland, who is I’ve been such a huge fan of for many, many years. And as someone who I think that his talent is so exquisite and sublime, that he kind of rises above a lot of popular culture and for me, I’ve always found him to be Kubrick Ian, like his his stuff has always moved me in a way that I was like, holy shit, your film or TV theory, or novel is such a work of art on so many levels. And so when he asked me to be the president in this, in this new film, I read the film. And the incredible thing about this movie, which is a rip roaring, a thrilling action movie, it’s also just a, it’s the most powerfully effective cautionary tale I’ve ever seen. And the reason is because he transcends I don’t like I was blown away by his ability to rise above the need to apply any kind of partisanship to the movie. So when you when you see the movie, it is in the near future, there’s nothing particularly futuristic about it. Other than that, you know, that it’s in like an alternate reality due because of civil wars is has taken place in America. And he so brilliantly centers the movie on these four photo journalists who are by nature and by by their jobs, neutral. And so he is not showing us the blue assholes caused this, the red assholes cost this right, this or this, or this. We all caused this. And what he’s saying is, look at what humanity is barreling towards, how do we all feel about this? Like and, and I, when I saw it, I was so just powerfully moved, and I was so was so grateful to him for having the the sagacity to, to not to not feel the need to give into our modern need to like, identify, pigeonhole, and like to create a narrative that’s going to be juicy and chewy and sell, you know, there there are, aren’t even any nods to anything.


Samantha Bee  41:49

You mean. I can’t choose sides based on the trailer? Hold on a minute, sir.


Nick Offerman  41:55

Unfortunately, I mean, you can and many have.


Samantha Bee  41:58

Oh, I guess.


Nick Offerman  41:59

But like.


Samantha Bee  42:00

Do you? How do you? How do you respond to that? Because I know, you know, when you’re when your episode of The Last of Us came out was beautiful, and you handled the trolls with aplomb?


Nick Offerman  42:18

Well, thank you. I mean, you know, it’s been a real roller coaster over the years with social media. And for me, I was in a naive bubble. During Parks and Recreation, where I was like a hilarious meat loving, you know, theater actor on a mic sure show. And that gave me this sort of safe platform from which to like, snark at bigotry or whatever, sure. And then when when Trump got got elected in 2016, I realized oh, wow, the it was like when, when W got reelected?


Samantha Bee  43:06



Nick Offerman  43:08

Everybody, you know, the majority of people around me are, are somewhat like minded. Like, you’ll notice that. I don’t know I don’t engage in forms of entertainment that are like guns and tits and like the superficiality of selling materialism. For many that is quite enjoyable. That’s not my bag. And so you sort of filter out the gun and action people. And and so the people making for example, a show like parks and recreation, or Will and Grace for that matter, which was our household show before Parks and Rec. You forget that there’s half the country, that’s like, no, like, I would never even consider voting for your candidate because they want to abort my they want to take my gun and get an abort it. They want to.


Samantha Bee  44:12

I’m wanting to watch a show called Titty Balls. And there’s lots of guns in it. And no abortions do not, don’t you dare. But feel free to shoot people.


Nick Offerman  44:24

Of course, and so it was a real wake up call of like, oh, right, there are still bigotry is still very alive and well and so.


Samantha Bee  44:34



Nick Offerman  44:35

Right, and, and so I had to learn, I had to learn to you know, back way off of this like, smugness that I had of like, Oh, I’m making a difference with my snarky tweets. When I when I realized what I was doing was just like, maybe preaching to the choir and giving them a ride chuckle now and again. So then by now, you know, I’ve long since sort of stopped engaging with things because social media has just kind of become a cesspool across the board. Like, it’s so much less fun, it used to be fun, and there’s an intellectual component of conversation where it was like, I chime in on something. And Kyle McLaughlin would say, hey, man, I also love coffee, have you ever seen my show, and now now, it’s just like, weird bikini girls wanting to rub themselves on you. And so when that one, the whole thing happened with The Last of Us, I just, I now try to just take it as an opportunity to not engage to not like, get into any kind of like, conversation at all with trolls. But I do just try to take the opportunity where I can to say, if you know if people are like, hey, it’s so I mean, the stuff was so reprehensible that people said, all this, all this homophobic hate, that I was aware of, but just hadn’t had it directed, directed right at me. And I just, you know, I said, if people would say, why, why did you go gay for money, or just a lot of, like, barfing emojis and just just open hatred, where I was like, the reason that you’re saying this, to me, is why we’re going to, like, you’re not going to win, we’re not going to go, oh, you don’t like black people? Sorry, we will stop casting them.


Samantha Bee  46:37

Our bad.


Nick Offerman  46:37

You don’t want to see like a same sex couple kiss. Like that, that one gets me the most to, if there’s one thing we should be striving for in a society, it’s to engender love among people, like, with all of life will always be hard, like living in the world with weather and poverty and disease, and you name it, we do our best to band together and we’re like, okay, we’ve set up these programs, you know, we’re going to try and get everybody fed, and clothed and whatever. Any opportunity where we can, like, get people together and be like, hey, are you too good? Love each other? Great, make a house, have some kids, like help us with continue the positive production? And for people to be like, yeah.


Samantha Bee  47:30

I don’t like it when other people have love in their life. Like, what?


Nick Offerman  47:36

Really blows me away. And so I just tried, I tried to stay calm and say, look, we’re not gonna, it’s not we’re not gonna go backwards. We’re going to, we’re going to keep seeing stories where for fend two bearded men love each other. Like, that’s, that’s the hill you want to die on.


Samantha Bee  47:58

It’s love and love is additive to the world, no matter what form it takes. And I gotta tell you, my kids watch that episode. And it they don’t even blink an eye. They don’t look at it and go, that seems different. Like it is so folded into this new generation of people.


Nick Offerman  48:18

Thank goodness.


Samantha Bee  48:19

It’s just an it’s a, it’s beautiful to watch, actually, it’s wonderful to observe. And it doesn’t even require commenting on with your family, it’s just so natural and organic for them. So I just thank you for that. Thank you for all the art that you create, and your calming voice and presence.


Nick Offerman  48:43

Thank you I, I would immediately pass that thanks along to the writers of this material. Because I didn’t think of any of it, you know, I’m so grateful. I always like in my my the women and men who create the shows I’m involved in there. They’re the General of the Army, and I like to find the most successful generals and and say, I’m here and I have a shovel and I’m super good at shoveling. Please show me where you want me to dig. And I feel very lucky that they that they needed a guy who could use a shovel for The Last of Us because there are only three of us in Hollywood and Harrison Ford passed and Jane Lynch was not available. I’m very grateful to have my shovel be put to good use but I’m so so glad that much bigger brains and hearts like mine can can make use of me like Alex did in Civil War.


Samantha Bee  49:50

Well, unfortunately I’m going to give you a compliment which is that just you know you definitely are holding the shovel and in and summoning greatness in your performances for other people but you are a great writer and a thinker and yarn spinner, and a presence that we need more of. And I love hearing your perspectives on what it means to be a man and it’s refreshing. You know, it’s so I don’t know, your perspective is so grandmother wisdom. Do you know what I mean? You’re pragmatic. It relaxes my brain. It unspools my brain to listen to you speak and to read your work. And so I want to thank you for that.


Nick Offerman  50:43

Well, thank you, that’s, that’s a lot and I can only take it on board. Knowing that in my writing and in the work that I generate, I usually lead with my fallibility. And so that’s that’s the thing as long as everyone understands that, being a jackass is part of the recipe, then we’re done, we’re good.


Samantha Bee  51:05

Everybody’s got to be a goofball.


Nick Offerman  51:07

That’s right.


Samantha Bee  51:08

That’s what makes life fun. Okay, well, I want to thank you so much for your time. And I appreciate all that you do.


Nick Offerman  51:16

Well, I’m very grateful. I’ll keep plugging away. Warts and all, and thank you, thank you right back for all your great work. And hopefully, we’ll be able to clap our arms about each other here one of these days.


Samantha Bee  51:32

Be delightful.


Samantha Bee  51:43

That was Nick Offerman and I had no choice but to look up one thing. He joked that he was the size of a small secret service agents, so I had to see if the Secret Service had height and weight requirements. They do not, you do need to be between 21 and 37 though, so I guess I’m out anyway. Ah, oh well. But as always, there’s more Choice Words on Lemonada premium subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content, like a special outtake from my recent interview with Busy Philipps subscribe now in Apple podcasts.


CREDITS  52:31

Thank you for listening to Choice Words which was created by and is hosted by me. We’re a production of Lemonada Media, Kathyrn Barnes, […] and Kryssy Pease produce our show. Our mix is by James Barber. Steve Nelson is the vice president of weekly content. Jessica Cordova Kramer, Stephanie Wittles Wachs and I are executive producers. Our theme was composed by […] with help from Johnny Vince Evans . Special thanks to Kristen Everman, Claire Jones, Ivan Kuraev and Rachel Neil. You can find me at @Iamsambee on Twitter and at @realsambee on Instagram. Follow Choice Words wherever you get your podcasts or listen ad free on Amazon music with your Prime membership.

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