One of our very favorite people here is Nick Offerman (who has has mentioned Uproxx during stand-up shows), and he’s one of those guys about whom I will read and listen to everything I can because he has such a fascinating history, from his incredible meet cute with Megan Mullally to the many times we saw Nick Offerman and didn’t realize it before he was famous to his other career as a woodworker (in fact, he once said that, if there’s an apocalypse, he and Chris Pratt will be just fine, because they’ll start their own town where Pratt hunts for the meat and Offerman builds all the canoes).
I’ve seen all of his AMAs, and listened to at least a half a dozen or more Nick Offerman podcasts. A story that has always stuck with me, however, is from is Kevin Pollack podcast way back in 2011 where he explains that Gary Sinise was indirectly responsible for him landing the role of Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation.
You may recall that, back in the day, Nick Offerman actually auditioned on The Office for the role of Michael Scott (Offerman played guitar during the audition). While Offerman didn’t land that part, it put him on the radar of The Office’s showrunners, Greg Daniels and Michael Schur. Over the next couple of years, Offerman would occasionally return to audition for other parts in the show.
At one such point, he came in and auditioned for a guest role on The Office and he nailed it.
Meanwhile, Offerman also had a rule against ever working on a CSI procedural. He’d auditioned for several CSIs, never landed a role, and at one point, had completely sworn them off. That is, until Gary Sinise — who had directed Offerman in a play in his earlier days — had asked Offerman to guest star on his show, CSI: New York. On the one hand, Offerman thought, he had ruled out procedurals. But on the other, he knew it would be the only time he’d get to see his old friend Gary Sinise because, as he said, Sinise was in that “upper echelon” of actors that you only ever saw if you worked with them.
So ultimately, Offerman decided to accept the role on CSI, but then, he got a call back from The Office right afterwards offering him the guest role. However, because it conflicted schedule-wise with his CSI role, he couldn’t take it.
“So at the time,” Offerman said during the podcast. “I was cursing the heavens. But it turned out to be the greatest thing ever because part of getting Ron Swanson was, I think, that it was important that I was unknown. And if I had done the thing on The Office, they probably wouldn’t have [considered me an unknown].”
You see, folks: Fate has a funny way of working out. Had he not done the play with Sinise early in his career, he never would’ve accepted the role on CSI: New York, he would’ve landed the guest role on The Office, and he never would’ve tried out for the role of Mark Brendanawicz on Parks and Recreation, and he never would’ve lost out on the role of Mark Brendanawicz to Paul Schneider because NBC said that they wanted a guy who was “handsome,” and then Mike Schur never would’ve created the role of Ron Swanson in order to put Nick Offerman into the show anyway!
Amusingly, Offerman tells another anecdote in that podcast where a writer on Will & Grace had a pilot on CBS and had written a role specifically for Offerman — a Navy Intelligence officer with a moustache — that was very specific to Offerman’s type. After Offerman tested for the role, however, CBS President Les Moonves decided that he didn’t like moustaches, and “wanted to get someone with juice.” So, a week later, they gave the role that was WRITTEN FOR NICK OFFERMAN to none other than … James Van Der Beek.
Yes, Nick Offerman once lost out on a role specifically written for him to James Van Der Beek.
Network television is a silly business.