SXSW: Nick Offerman talks baby powder, theater and libertarianism


Photo Credit: Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

Nick Offerman charmed South by Southwest at a conversation hosted by Nick Kroll on Sunday afternoon. Offerman was at the festival to premiere his new comedy film, “Infinity Baby,” which envisions a world where a scientific experiment gone wrong results in a population of babies which don’t age.

Kroll appropriately commenced the talk by offering whiskey to Offerman.

“I’ve been to church, so the timing is good,” Offerman said.

Offerman then went on to talk about his love of SXSW, having attended before in 1999, and discuss the premise of the film. His attempt to drive into a brief analysis of its themes led Kroll to take the talk in a raunchier direction.

“Do you like to be treated like a baby?” Kroll asked.

“I like to have my bottom wiped,” Offerman replied. “Who doesn’t? I like a nice powder.”

Offerman later reflected on the earlier days of his career, which saw him acting in theater and landing bit roles in shows such as “NYPD Blue” and “Will & Grace.” Though Offerman said he now enjoys his bigger roles on TV and in film, he prefers the stage.

“In the theater, a lot more weight is on your shoulders to carry the show,” Offerman explained. “You have a lot more material to deliver. Your presence is much more palpable within the actual artwork.”

The conversation eventually moved to the subject of Megan Mullaly, Offerman’s wife and his co-star in “Infinity Baby.”

“I want to touch on [her],” Kroll said in his attempt to transition, prompting a sly look from Offerman.

“That’s cool,” Offerman said.

“You can watch,” Kroll continued.

Calling her a “talented goddess,” Offerman said, “She steals the film from a talented cast.”

Offerman further elaborated on his admiration for his wife, whom he met while doing a play in 2000, and has worked with multiple times since. “I was immediately taken,” he said. “[She] is like a Mel Brooks movie. She is a legend immediately.”

Kroll then opened the floor to questions. Many of them asked Offerman to address aspects of his most iconic character, “Park and Recreation’s” Ron Swanson. One in particular focused on Swanson’s new role as a libertarian icon.

“It didn’t really didn’t occur to me until [the United States] got into this dire political awakening that a certain percentage of the audience didn’t understand that it was a joke,” Offerman said. “I think they comprehended ‘Parks and Recreation’ was a comedy, but somehow they thought Ron Swanson was a documentary.”

Offerman expressed an appreciation for several tenets of libertarianism, and he elaborated on his enjoyment of using guns responsibly and hunting.

“The people who (hunt and fish) are generally in touch with how we’re using the planet,” Offerman said. “That’s healthy, that’s a farmer’s thing.”

However, he also said he believed libertarianism would be ineffective in as a principle for government.

Kroll suggested to Offerman that Ron Swanson has become a role model for libertarians due to his many positive qualities.

“You’ve created a character that is multidimensional and was someone who [libertarians] could look up to as a well-rounded version of themselves,” Kroll said. “I think that’s why it resonated with people.”

Offerman agreed, concluding, “More than anything, Ron is a decent person.”