The two stars of NBC's hit comedy talk about the popular second season
One of NBC's new comedies, Parks and Recreation, is certainly hitting its stride this season. After a short-order six-episode first season, the show was given a 13-episode second season order and was recently picked up for a full 22-episode second season as well. Two of the stars of the show, Rashida Jones and Chris Pratt, who play Ann and Andy, who were a couple in the first season before splitting up, recently held a conference call to discuss this successful second season. Here's what they had to say.
Chris, were you a little worried about what that meant for the fate of - for you on the show because I know this season you're promoted to I believe series regular but were you a little worried that you - what would happen with your character once you guys broke up?
Chris Pratt: Yeah. I thought that there was a chance I wouldn't be coming back and I was, you know, on the sort of - I was a little worried. You know, but, going into it that was always - I always knew that that could be the - that could possibly the case is that, you know, they don't have to bring me back. It was sort of originally I think intended as - in that six episode arc. And then I was delighted to find out that they, you know, found room for me on the cast for the second season. So I was a little worried but it wasn't - but I came into it knowing that there was a potential for me not coming back in the second season.
Will we see anything happening for you romance-wise now that you're on the scene single on Parks and Recreation? Will you get - will your character get any romance?
Chris Pratt: I, you know, I think that Andy's undying devotion towards Ann is one of the only thing that sort of redeems him so I hope not. I hope that he just keeps pining after Ann for ten seasons to come. That would be the best for me.
Rashida, were you - just a little bit about what you felt when you had your character like Ann with this relationship with Andy - were you kind of rooting for her to, you know, break up with him and find - you know, did you get involved in that like that - what would happen for her and her really wanting - wanting her to move on from this relationship? As funny as it was it didn't seem that healthy.
Rashida Jones: Right. Well character-wise, you know, objectively as a spectator of the show, I don't and did not want Andy to go anywhere because Chris Pratt is the loveliest person in the world but also he's so great and hilarious on the show that we would, you know, it would just not be the same without him. So that being said Ann - as Ann, yes, I think that her need to coddle a grown man is not a healthy situation for her. And it was probably good for her to get out of that but I do think that there's still, you know, I think that's part of her nature and I think that there's still love there even though he's crazy and he's stalking her.
Rashida you have great comedic timing; is it something you find has come natural to you or have you had to work at it?
Rashida Jones: Well thank you, that's nice. I mean I think I've kind of been in the best - I've gotten the best boot camp between the last couple jobs that I've had. But I would hope - I would like to think that maybe, you know, maybe I have something to do with it but I think that that's something you can cultivate and get better at over time when you're surrounded by experts and I have been so that's been very helpful.
Chris you were on Everwood for such a long time, what made you want to get back into the TV field?
Chris Pratt: Honestly I always wanted to be in the TV field I was just sort of waiting for someone to hire me, you know, that's kind of how - you know, actually, no, I think the truth of the matter is I - after doing Everwood I was sort of resigned to trying to build a movie career and I think that happens sometimes to actors, they do TV and they say, you know, make a little money that they put aside and they don't have to necessarily take every job that comes. So it's like after that I was like you know what I'm not going to do TV for a while, I'm going to see if I can do some movies. And I farted around with a couple movies and then this project came along and I was like wow, I said that maybe I wouldn't do TV but this is like cooler than any movie I've been a part of so I'm totally in, you know what I mean? It just took a really, really awesome - (unintelligible) project and that what this has been.
I also wanted to ask you guys, you know, how you kind of relate to your respective characters like Chris are you anything like Andy because Andy is pretty intense.
Chris Pratt: You know, gosh, I feel like there are elements of Andy, I mean, there are elements of Andy that are like myself. I think it's just sort of taken a microscope and putting it on to certain elements of myself and allowing all the reasonable sensible things about myself to sort of fall by the wayside. You know, I can be sort of childish and goofy and like you said intense. You know, I can be all of the things that Andy is but, you know, I think I have a little bit better sense than he does and I'm a little more in touch with reality but there were definitely moments in my life when I was younger where I'd obsess over somebody and be in love with them and be absolutely confident in the idea that they too would love me back even though they didn't, you know what I mean? There's a little bit of that in there. But I think you draw on moments from your life or try to make it real for yourself somehow just by the fact that it doesn't seem like it could be. I think, you know, you try to make all those moments even when he's the most delusional still somehow seem very real. And you do that by kind of believing what is he supposed to believe, you know.
Rashida Jones: I would agree with Chris. I pull out certain elements about my own personality. I would like to think that I'm not as much of - as much of a doormat as Ann was at the beginning of the show. But I do relate to the concept of becoming friends with somebody who isn't like off the bat seemingly the person that you should be friends with or that you would think you'd be friends with and is maybe a tiny bit nutty but really seeing their heart and that their intentions are good and wanting to, you know, go further with that friendship meaning Leslie. I think that that's very similar to my personality.
Chris, my first question is for you is basically what's next for Andy? Is he finally going to get a job and his own place that's not a pit?
Chris Pratt: Yeah, yeah, they've, yeah, the - (Shannon), the writers have found a nice way for Andy to get out of the pit and get a job and start sort of like, you know, working his way up into, you know, an independence - I don't know - would it be too much of a spoiler Rashida...
Rashida Jones: Yeah, don't tell, don't tell.
Chris Pratt: Okay I can't tell you. I can't tell you but I will tell you that he, yeah, he gets a job and you'll see more.
Rashida, do you think that Ann and Andy will ever get back to together?
Rashida Jones: You know, I don't think it's an impossibility. Like I said I think there's still love in Ann's heart for Andy. I mean I think so much would have to change, you know, for his - him to be okay with her. But I don't think it's an impossibility.
Do you like your characters better together or apart?
Rashida Jones: I think there's - I think there's a lot of comedy both ways. I mean, I like this - I like this particular paradigm; I think it's really funny because I just think Chris gets to shine a lot here and do something with, you know, something that could potentially seem really kind of cartoony and big which is like him, you know, showing up places and pretending to be casual about seeing me and all that. But he manages to make it kind of realistic and really sweet. So I like this dynamic for now.
Rashida I just wanted to know - well we all kind of want to know, so you studied philosophy and religion at Harvard. So how does that bring you to shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation? Like what kind of brought you to comedy?
Rashida Jones: I use my degree in my work every day. No I'm just kidding. I don't know. I have no idea. I mean, that was just what I was interested in when I was 17 which is when I had to pick what I was going to study at school. I did a lot of theater in school. I thought maybe I wanted to go to law school or be a judge or a politician. And then I just kind of got smitten by the process of rehearsal and working with other actors and those kinds of challenges. And then comedy, I don't know, I mean, one of my first big jobs when I moved to LA was I was a guest on Freaks and Geeks and it was like one of the first moments being an actress where I was like oh this is like exactly the kind of thing I would want to do with my life. And it wasn't necessarily comedy or drama it was just a certain sensibility. And I feel like The Office and Parks and Recreation have a similar sensibility which is a dedication to reality and a dedication to the comedy that comes out of that reality.
I want to know about a name I keep seeing in the opening credits, now is (Norm Hiscock) a real guy or is this somebody that's like a bunch of people writing an episode or is this an inside joke?
Rashida Jones: Nope that's his name. He's a wonderful writer. He's Canadian and that's his name.
Chris Pratt: Yep.
Okay because we laugh at that every time we see the show start. Now I want to know how often did they make you crawl into this pit Chris? And how hard was it as an actor to have to keep doing this throughout the series up until the last episode?
Chris Pratt: You know, I was in there lot but I feel like - I'm game for that kind of stuff. I think that kind of stuff is really fun. Like, you know, I've fallen and done these, you know, Pratt falls which is kind of funny - well I say Pratt - but Pratt falls and falling down and hurting myself and falling down some stairs and rolling on the ground and diving over bushes like it's sort of - I'm lucky that there's a sort of, you know, element to physical comedy with Andy's kind of big over the top stuff. And I really like that. I'm down for it. And in fact I think the fact that - the reason I'm doing it so much is because I tend to like it so much; I think they're sort of catering towards that, you know what I mean, like wow what are we going to do with - I don't know let's drop him off a building in this episode. I'm down in that pit a lot. And I'm glad now that it's filled because it was pretty nasty down there. I mean it's a real pit out in the valley, you know, out in the middle of nowhere and it's hot and dusty and it stinks a little bit. So I'd be down there a lot and I'm happy to have that chapter closed. But at the time I was game.
I know when the show first premiered the critics were a little bit mixed on it but now everybody seems to be really high on the show. Did you kind of feel that coming into the filming for Season 2 that maybe things were a little sharper or just that things were clicking a little more? What do you think?
Rashida Jones: You know what? It just takes time. I mean, I think, you know, for the actors, for the writers, for the audience you just need some time to settle into what the characters actually are and what's funny about their dynamics. And, you know, I'm super grateful that people gave us a shot to get there but I definitely think it takes about 10 episodes to even know what anything is, you know. I mean, you watch some early Seinfeld, you watch some early Sex and the City, it's nothing like the show turned out to be; the things that people loved about that show did not exist at the beginning of that show, you know.
Chris Pratt: Yeah, I mean I think - I felt like - I've noticed that, I mean, as fan of the show I've seen it get better and better and working on it I've noticed the scripts coming down the pipes have gotten better but it kind of goes back to what Rashida said just it takes time for everybody. And especially with a show like ours, even more so than like something that's a, you know, a half hour, you know, live studio audience type of a sit come format with a laugh track. This is a fake documentary and it's a, you know, it's a little bit - there's the Office and then there's all the (unintelligible) stuff but for like a half-hour TV show there's the office and not really much else to compare it to. So it's a little new for people, you know, and the jokes are a little different. You can't - you can't have a laugh track that sort of tells the audience when to laugh and, you know, it's difficult to find those moments. But I noticed that all the scripts coming down the pipes this year I was laughing out loud a lot more when reading them. And I think it's just a matter of sort of finding the sensibilities to all the characters and starting with Amy, you know, I think a lot of people compared Steve Carell to Ricky Gervais from the office when they first started the American version of the Office. But it's just - he's a different style of comedy and stuff. And maybe they were writing to - for Steve the way they did for Ricky Gervais. And maybe in the beginning they were writing for Amy the way that they wrote for Steve Carell but she's a little - she's - her comedic sensibility is a little different. Maybe she's, you know, it's not that funny to watch her be uncomfortable the way it is with Steve Carell but it's so God damned endearing when she smiles. And so, you know, you see her and when she's enjoying herself so is the audience. And you see her doing that a lot more now kind of just becoming comfortable in - it's been written in a way that she's becoming more comfortable as who she is and like the episode with the beauty pageant she's standing up for sort of the, you know, women's rights. And she's just like, you're seeing more dimensions of her. And maybe it's always been who they've envisioned her to be or maybe they're figuring it out but I sure like that - that Leslie a lot more in the second season. I just enjoy watching her more and I think that's starting to happen with all the characters.
I noticed that Ron has his own Website for Duke Silver. Is there any chance that either Ann or Andy will get their own offshoot Website?
Rashida Jones: I would say Andy has more of a chance than Ann. I don't know what boring Website boring-ass Website Ann would have where she like talks about like different - slightly different variations of the color blue in her scrubs, I don't know what...
Chris Pratt: You know what it could be? It could be the patients who have a crush on Ann the nurse Website and it'll just be people who sign in who went to the hospital and had a crush on their nurse.
Rashida Jones: That's sweet - you're sweet Pratt.
Chris Pratt: Yeah, so I don't know. You know I think that - I think Andy has a scarecrow boat Website.
Rashida Jones: Yeah he does - you do.
Chris Pratt: Which is the band - it's just on the NBC - it's on the nbc.com Website scarecrow boat and it's basically just a list of our band names or something.
I have a question about how Parks and Recreation is kind of - looking at The Office and looking at Parks and Recreation with both being in that documentary style of comedy show and The Office deals with middle class workers and Parks and Recreation is dealing with a commentary on public office on a very small relatable scale for, I mean, everybody can relate to their, you know, their local government. How do you think the show is going to expand on that and possibly balloon out and cover maybe a state level or are there plans to kind of expand it in later seasons looking into the future?
Rashida Jones: You know, I don't know for sure because, you know, the writers are breaking all types of options of stories up there. But I do think that they're considering how to expand it, you know, like how to keep including, you know, new elements into it because why not? You know. But look, I mean, The Officehas survived what is it now in its sixth season? And it's literally in an office and yeah they go on like these field trips or these (unintelligible) are a little bit out of the office but it's incredible to be able to create that many hundreds of storylines in like a, you know, middle management office. And hopefully we'll have similar success where we can continue to draw interesting stories out of something that might be, you know, a tiny bit myopic or expand a little bit, you know.
Chris Pratt: Yeah.
And are there any of the show subplots or main plots that are based on events that have happened in different cities and towns in real life?
Rashida Jones: Well the initial - like the macro plot of the pit - when the producers went to do research in this little city in California there was a park there and from the time they thought about building the park to the time that they opened the park and cut the ribbon it was 17 years. So that was the main inspiration, yes, was based in reality.
Rashida Jones: We did better by the way.
Chris Pratt: Look forward to Episode 17 or Season 17 when we finally...
Rashida Jones: No we pulled it in. Yeah, because there's no park yet, yeah, exactly, look forward to Season 17.
So you guys talked about your characters and how maybe you're similar or you're different but is there anyone on the show who you could say is most like their character, you know, is Aziz Ansari really anything like Tom or what?
Rashida Jones: What do you think Chris?
Chris Pratt: I mean no, I don't think, I mean like I don't think there's - like if - no I mean.
Rashida Jones: Nobody is really.
Chris Pratt: I don't think anybody is.
Rashida Jones: No.
Chris Pratt: Like my in-laws came to visit set and I think cadence wise and voice wise Nick Offerman, you might think that he's putting on a voice when he talks and he is a little bit. But when you talk to him just regularly he's sort of thoughtful and kind of does the same thing that he does with Ron. And so that might surprise you to meet Nick and know that - oh no that's not even true because he has created something really spectacular that he does. I don't think there's anyone that's similar to their character. I don't know.
Rashida Jones: Everybody's like definitely like a little bit cooler than their characters you know what I mean, they're like...
Chris Pratt: Oh yeah.
Rashida Jones: They're more grounded than their characters.
Chris Pratt: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, maybe Jerry? Maybe Jim, you know, because he kind of - he sort of plays the whipping boy a little bit, Jim plays - he plays Jerry and he might be similar because he's just sort of like - he's a really earnest nice Midwestern kind of guy, really sweet. And he plays that on the show but the comedy lies in that for some reason everybody hates him and it's just like God why would you hate - you know what I mean like there's no reason why anyone would ever hate Jim if you meet him. But they seem to hate Jerry on the show. And I think that's where the comedy lies so maybe he's the most similar because he's just like, you know, plays everything pretty straight. Otherwise I don't know. Yeah.
You can watch Rashida Jones and Chris Pratt on Parks and Recreation, which airs on Thursday nights at 8:30 PM ET on NBC.