Paul Schneider played Mark Brendanawicz on the first two seasons of Parks and Recreation. It was not a particularly memorable character, which is why no one ever thinks about Mark Brendanawicz unless we spot Paul Schneider in some obscure indie flick or on his stint in The Newsroom and think, “Where have I seen that guy before? Uh .. uh … Oh yeah! He was on Parks and Recreation!” To be fair, it wasn’t really Paul Schneider’s fault. The character wasn’t that well written, the show was still in flux, and when Adam Scott and Rob Lowe came along, Mark Brendanawicz instantly became an afterthought.
But you know what? Real-life Paul Schneider is an interesting dude, and by that, I mean: He does not give a sh*t.
If you’re not familiar with Screencrush’s Mike Ryan — formerly of HuffPo — he has some weird interviewing mojo that seems to disarm his interviewees, and as a result, he often gets weirdly candid answers. I’m sure Mike Ryan has f**ked up a lot of publicists’ days. (A couple of years ago, Mike Ryan basically elicited an existential crisis out of Chris Evans, and it was amazing). For some reason, when celebrities are around Ryan, they just say whatever the f**k they feel like saying, and in the case of Paul Schneider, what he felt like saying was, “I basically don’t give a sh*t about acting. It’s stupid and I hate it and I want to quit.”
Here’s a fantastically candid exchange on Schneider’s acting process (or lack thereof):
I thought you were really good in this movie.
Dude, I appreciate it. I tried hard and I wanted to be.
That’s a unique yet simple way to put it.
I mean, there were a lot of lines to learn.
That’s a lot different than, “I embodied the spirit of the character.”
I mean, look, I have a problem being judgmental and I shouldn’t. Things that are true for me are not necessarily true for other people. If people want to be hippie-dippy about how they approach acting, then that’s great. But I didn’t study acting. I studied editing at film school and I’ve never taken any acting classes and probably have suffered because of it.
You’ve had a good run.
Oh, without a doubt. And that’s not to say I don’t walk around wondering if I might get struck by lightning at any moment … but who wants to hear anyone wax on about how f*cking– you know, that’s just a c*ck-swinging session.
Excellent. We’re off to a good start. Paul Schneider is basically sh*tting on actors who ramble on about their process like it’s some fine art form. I like Paul Schneider. I doubt that Paul Schneider gives a sh*t what I think, though.
Can you get too far away where you just wind up doing something else with your life?
Oh, are you kidding me, I f*cking think about it every day. Absolutely. I’m dying to do something else.
Does this mean I won’t see you in any more movies? I saw your name in this and was excited to see it.
I mean, it is an honor to be filmed tripping and falling and looking like a refrigerator next to beautiful women in this movie.
There’s a lot of sex in this movie.
Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s interesting. Yeah, it’s nerve-racking. But the real answer to what we’re talking about right now is that I want to be discerning and I don’t want to be in a bunch of sh*t. And, you know what? No one does. No one does. I don’t say that like, “I’m the only one!”
If I’m always working on my career or pursuing jobs in acting, what am I going to act about? Don’t I need to chew on other stuff to sh*t out something good? I just need different stimulus.
OK! Now Schneider is having his own existential crisis about his job. He’s crossed the line from self-deprecation to, “What I do is dumb.” It sounds like he’s sick of acting. In the full interview, he goes on at more length about this, and about how it’s all bullsh*t networking.
But let’s get to the part about Parks and Recreation. There had been some suggestion that Schneider might return to Parks and Rec for a guest gig on down the line, but Schneider basically said he has zero interest in doing that, and also talked about why he left the show in the first place.
That experience was very strange for me. You know, I signed up for a specific character that was changed in mid-season. And it became a character with a lot less to do. And, all of a sudden, I was kind of confused and kind of having a lot less to do.
I’m not sure the show knew what it wanted to be when it first started.
And what show does? Those guys are working on something that I have no idea how to captain that ship. And I was very happy for the experience to be involved and those guys really figured out what it is they’re doing. I mean, decidedly — they have f*cking the First Lady in the show. Now, the difference for me is, I don’t have cable TV. I watch ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ and I watch ‘Frontline.’
Well, at least he’s honest. And it’s true: More than anything, Schneider was a casualty of the writing process. The show just didn’t know what to do with him.