“Parks and Recreation” is in a new era with Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) and Ben Wyatt (played by Adam Scott) getting married and starting their lives together as husband and wife. On Feb. 21, 2013, NBC televised two back-to-back episodes of “Parks and Recreation,” including the "Leslie and Ben" wedding episode.
It remains to be see now the show’s storylines will develop now that main character Leslie is married. Poehler, Scott and “Parks and Recreation” executive producer Mike Schur recently chatted with journalists via a telephone conference call to give some insight.
Are there any details that you can reveal about the wedding?
Schur: There are a lot of details about the wedding. It’s kind of an interesting; it’s kind of a big episode. But I’ll say that everybody has a job to fill of the main cast. Part of the fun of the episode is that the wedding was originally planned for May, and at this black tie gala that happened in last week’s episode they decide to do it that night.
So they basically have two hours to throw it together. So everybody kind of has a role to play and Tom Haverford becomes the officiant and has to get like ordained online in like an hour and Donna plays a role and that we’re for the first time are going to feature beautiful and professionally trained singing voice on the show a couple times...
Poehler: Oh yes, that’s a good one.
Schur: Yes which it’s very beautiful. We let her pick which aria she wanted to perform, so that was fun. And it just what’s really nice about it is basically in the opening moments of the episode in order to pull this thing off in sort of claustrophobic “Parks and Rec” fashion everyone has to sort of chip in. So there’s a part for everybody to play.
TV has a lot of examples of “will they or won’t they” couples who then took the plunge in one way or another and often that made it very challenging for the shows going forward in some way some of the magic was lost. In the case of Leslie and Ben, could you all talk a little bit about what challenges are still ahead for them? How do you sort of maintain the comic tension once they become husband and wife?
Poehler: That’s a great question. Just speaking quickly to the fact what I love about “Parks” is that if you care about this couple, you’ve got to see over the past couple years so much change happen with them and it’s really satisfying the show hasn’t killed us with low expectation and will they/won’t they, which I love.
And I love that “Parks” continues to like let characters change and like actually have things happen, like life goes on in the world, like the world, like what happens in the real world. So that part is satisfying because I know that Mike and the writers always kind of write and then just try to figure what’s going to happen later. And so then I would pass that over to Mike as to what’s next.
Schur: I would say that part of the joy of the two characters and their relationship is that they have three-dimensional lives and they’re both very committed not only to each other but their careers and to their friends and to the just living a sort of full life. And it’s I think that maybe if there’s a trap that you can fall into it’s that you have to just tell the story repeatedly just about the relationship and that can get kind of boring. But we don’t have that problem.
In fact, in the second episode [the one that airs after the wedding episode] … is Leslie and Ben coming back from their honeymoon and just sort of talking about how much fun they had on their honeymoon. But the episode is just a regular episode of “Parks and Rec,” and Leslie and Ben aren’t in the same story. Ben is starting a new job and it’s his first day at work and it’s like he’s sort of thrown into this new challenge of his new job. And Leslie has an event that she’s planning for, which is sort of like a correspondents’ dinner type of event where the media and politicians roast each other and stuff.
And so I think you’ll see right away that there’s a sort of blueprint going forward where yes, they’re married now, but they also have other aspects of their lives that are very important to them. And so I hope and very much feel like that will be the thing that keeps it from seeming like the “magic is gone” because it’s not their lives have never been about each other. That’s a huge part of their lives and they love each other and they have a wonderful relationship and hopefully a great marriage going forward. But there’s a lot of other stuff going on and I think you’ll see that.
Scott: I’ll just say that I recently went back and watched the “The Master Plan,” which is the first episode Rob Lowe and I were on, kind of looking at Leslie and Ben at our first couple of scenes together it really speaks to the quality of writing of this show that there’s a lot of kind of foreshadowing of their relationship in the sense that these are two kind of three-dimensional characters that really sort of fit together and they see things in each other that no one else really sees and kind of hit these buttons with each other right off the bat.
And so I think that there’s just more to it. From the very start there was more to it than a simple will they or won’t they or kind of a device like that. And so I think that them being married now just sort of fits in naturally with that. It’s not like there’s anything to be lost by them joining together permanently.
Adam, you were brought on as the love interest for Leslie. But how much did you know in advance how far this might progress?
Scott: I didn’t know. You know, we thought it might be Leslie and Ben might be a couple at some point. But I think it was sort of a wait and see sort of thing. Because we got together and didn’t quite click as a relationship. I guess this is more a question for Mike.
But I sort of got the sense they were going to try that out and just see if it works. And if it didn’t, maybe find something else for me to do. I’m not really sure. But I don’t know. Mike, I guess that’s more a question for you because I don’t really totally know.
Schur: Certainly, the plan was always that this was a love interest and a long-term love interest. And our initial idea for Leslie was that she was going to have a series of relationships with different kinds of men over the course of the show and that she would sort of learn something different from each of them.
And that’s why there was a sort of she learned a little something from Mark Brendanawicz. She learned something from Louis C.K.’s character. She learned something from Justin Theroux. And we were sort of like, “Oh, Adam Scott. That’s good. She’ll date him for a while and she’ll learn something about herself from him.”
And it was certainly the plan to have him be a love interest and what happened very quickly was I mean there’s a in the second episode - well the first episode, in that “Master Plan” episode they have a conversation in a bar. And I wrote this thing into where Ben says to her very casually, “Like you want to run for office some day, right?” And she says, “Yes, how did you know?”
And he just sort of blows past it and the idea was like he’s just kind of got her number, like he just kind of gets her, he understands her and who she is and what her goals are. And in the second episode — which was the finale that year— called “Freddy Spaghetti” there’s they have a conversation and Leslie smiled at him and walks off and there’s a shot of Adam looking after Leslie with a smile on his face.
And as soon as I saw that, I kind of realized that not only were they going to get together but they were never going to break up, like it became very clear in that moment that this was it. And it just it’s that sort of indescribable thing you can’t really put your finger on but when you see two actors inhabiting roles and interacting with each other and they just sort of make sense.
I remember like in the discussions before Season 3 going, “All right, this season is going to end with Leslie and Ben like dating very seriously and thinking about getting married. So we better figure out how that’s going to go.” So it was certainly the plan early on and then that plan was solidified as soon as Adam showed up and started acting — which by the way, for the record, I think you’re very good, Adam. I think you’re a very good actor.
Schur: Don’t you agree, Amy? I think he’s quite good.
Poehler: I just wanted to kind of condense and emulsify what Schur just said. I just want say it’s chemistry baby. You can’t fight it.
Amy and Michael, we have officially seen all of Amy’s “UCB” co-stars , which was so much fun. If there is a next season (which we’re optimistic that there is one at least here), are there any plans of maybe having Tina Fey guest star?
Poehler: We never know who’s going to come around and certainly we haven’t even thought about what we’re going to shoot next year. Schur and I are working on the last episode, which I think is due in like five minutes.
It was really fun to have Matt Walsh and Matt Besser and Ian Roberts and everyone we know come by. And we’re really lucky that people want to. We just had … I don’t know if I should say. Maybe not. But we’ve had some people come by recently and so there’s more exciting faces to come. So yes, always watch hoping that you’ll see exciting people coming by. You never know.
Scott: Matt Walsh was so great.
Schur: He was great, yes. And the way that we like to do this and we’re lucky now because I think we’re established enough and enough like amazing, funny people have guested on the show that we’re in the position where we can write a part — a juicy part — like that and go, “All right, who should play this? Walsh is perfect.”
And then someone calls him and says, “Hey come do the show.” And if people are free and they want to do it, they just kind of come by. It’s a very streamlined process. And I think we can say. I think the news has broken, Amy, about the thing that you were alluding to. But if not, what the hell, right? We wrote a part recently for an episode we just finished shooting. Patton Oswalt. The answer is Patton Oswalt.
One of our writers, Joe Mande, has opened for him a lot doing stand-up and he literally just e-mailed him and Patton was like, “Yes, definitely I’m in.” And that’s as hard as it was to convince him, which was great because he’s a fan of the show. And he just came and did the part and he was so, so, so, so funny.
So I think that it’s a crazy embarrassment of riches when you have a cast as good as our cast and then you can because the show really exists in the town Pawnee you get to meet all these fun new people.
And when have those big, fun parts between and among the writers and the cast members we know so many great talented actors. Jamie Denbo did an episode. Jamie Denbo guest stars in and we’re huge fans of hers, and she’s hilarious. And it’s just nice to have funny people come by and hang out with us.
Poehler: And Charlize Theron plays my stand-in, and I feel like not enough people write about that … She’s such a professional. No one’s written about it.
Is this also going to be really the last that we see of Ben and his calzones?
Scott: I feel like Ben was betrayed by calzones. But, as you know, when you’re betrayed … let me just say that there’s a period of shame and then there’s always forgiveness. I don’t want to predict anything or spoil anything. But I know that forgiveness is something that’s always possibility.
Poehler: And I’d like to just point out that Ben is so codependent about his calzones that he often puts his calzones before his work and his friends and his family. And it’s like a lot of people are worried. It’s like enough’s enough. Like how many times does a calzone have to disappoint you before you let it go? Like stop worrying about the calzone’s feelings and like just live your life, man.
Schur: I would only add and emulsify to Amy has said by saying that I think that Leslie and Ben’s bond is so strong and they’re so right for each other that I don’t think any other man or woman could ever cause any irreparable harm in their marriage. But I do think that what could is the calzone issue.
I think that it’s possible down the line that that could be a wedge that comes - that drives them apart. I don’t know. This is all speculation. But it’s the two things that Ben cares about most in the world and feels the most intensely about are Leslie and pizza wrapped in pastry dough.
Scott: If I could just further emulsify what Mike just said, I would just say that speaking from the point of view as the actor that plays Ben sometimes you just got to go into the zone.
Schur: That was the opposite of emulsifying something. That was you un-emulsified what I said.
Scott: Oh I’m sorry. I meant de-emulsify.
Schur: You had de-emulsify. I knew. I could sense that, yes.
This question is for Amy. You and Adam have been working together for a long time now. Do you two feel like an old married couple in real life?
Poehler: Well, no. How do I answer this? I think because an old married couple to me connotates like people that are kind of have been together a long time and are kind of … I think what’s so cool about getting to work with Adam and getting to act with him is that I always get surprised and I’m always challenged and it’s always really interesting. It feels very alive and very young.
So it doesn’t feel like we’ve been we’ve been working together for a long time; nothing about it feels old. We acted on another project together recently: a film that Adam did and produced and is the star of called “ACOD.” And when we were working on that, it was really, really nice because we would just get on set, and it was really nice to be together on set because we were so used to working together all the time.
So we kind of know each other’s rhythms and stuff and we’re comfortable with each other, which is half the battle sometimes when you’re working, especially in comedy. So I feel like we do know each other’s rhythms and everything but I feel like we’re not quite at the point yet where we’re old and married.
Scott: I just realized the other day that Rob and I came on this show not quite but almost three years ago — three calendar years — which is crazy because it’s gone by really fast. But I do know that I mean working on the show is always just such a job and genuinely just a privilege. It’s just such a great, great job.
But whenever Amy and I have scenes together I’m palpably excited that I get to do that. You know, it’s really just so much fun. So I think old married couple it’s not quite the right thing because it’s just such a terrific thing to get to do, you know.
Poehler: But you know, it's funny, maybe that reporter feels like old married couple is like the ideal. So I don’t know.
What has been your favorite moment or scene of Leslie and Ben’s relationship?
Poehler: I like the proposal. I thought the proposal was so beautifully written. And because I remember us walking into Joe Biden’s office and Schur talking about how he was going back to his hotel room to write the proposal. So I remember knowing when he was writing it and then getting it and nobody changed a word.
And I remember that day feeling very special because it was the three of us on set and Dean Holland, our director, and it just felt like a long time coming, which was really nice. I think everybody was really happy for the characters and it was a great example of Mike’s writing, which is always a combination of really sweet and heartfelt and it felt very earned but also just very funny.
And there’s a lot of that in the wedding episode. There’s a moment in the wedding episode that’s so to me the perfect example of in a really beautiful and sweet moment just hard laughs and those sharp turns are so hard to do I think and I think Mike does them so well. So I would say that scene.
Scott: I would probably say the wedding just because it’s really something and being there for it. You know, it really felt like we were at a real wedding. I think all of us, the whole cast was there. We were all there and it just felt it’s really it was a very special evening, you know. It was at night and we were all there in this wedding and it’s make-believe, but it was all we were all very moved and it was really something.
I would also go back to the episode called “Road Trip” where everything culminates and they have their first kiss at the end of the episode. And I thought that the episode was really well-written and directed and the tension kind of leading up to their first sort of scandalous kiss in private I thought was a really, really fun to do episode and it’s one of my favorite episodes to watch as well, really funny. And like Amy was saying, the kiss that happens at the end of the episode is so earned and I just love that one as well. I think that’s one of my favorites. And the proposal is lovely and really funny as well.
Schur: Yes, I would I think those are the three I would pick. After the wedding airs, I’ll probably say the wedding. But I like the proposal the most of the things that have actually aired I think because I’m of the belief that the most powerful weapon that we have in TV these days after 60 years of sitcoms is surprise.
And that has been our goal with every relationship really and with every even nonromantic story we’ve told on the show is we just try to always be surprising to the audience. And that was the idea was we’re not going to have the proposal come in a season premiere or in November sweeps or Christmas or whatever. We’re going to do it at a time where it just feels natural and right and it kind of takes people by surprise.
So that was the plan with the proposal and I think it worked. And it also has led to this very nice thing about Leslie and Ben’s relationship, which is that they are constantly sort of surprising each other, which is a very romantic idea I think. And that was actually talked about in the wedding episode in the vows that they exchange. There is that they talk about that notion. Leslie talks about that notion of being of how romantic it is and how nice it is to constantly be surprised by someone.
What are Leslie and Ben respectively most excited about with this wedding?
Poehler: I don’t know. Leslie tends to like to plan things and there’s a lot of that leading up to the wedding. So we can’t spoil too much … But what I think that both Leslie and - what’s cool about the wedding episode is that everybody comes together for this moment and those kind of episodes are always fun to shoot for us because they include the whole cast and they’re really fast-paced.
And when we left off, we saw Leslie and Ben saying, “Let’s maybe get married tonight,” and that means that the whole entire cast are going to have to band together to see if they can pull it off. And those kinds of episodes like can we pull this off with the clock running, what’s going to happen, are always really fun to shoot.
Do you think that there’s any part of Leslie that wishes they were doing the big production wedding?
Poehler: No. Well it’s hard to talk about that without giving things away. Leslie can be kind of supercilious and over plan and over do things, but she’s a modern woman. So it’s not like she has these weird fantasies about marriage or weddings necessarily.
So it’s just kind of a combination of her liking to be in control and what’s cool about that moment for both Ben and Leslie because they tend to like to control things is that they kind of throw things up in the air. And then Ron Swanson said it very nicely in an episode one time that you act like you jump off a cliff. And so we get to see them do that and that’s what’s cool about it. And it’s less about the details of the wedding.
Schur: I would say that Leslie is a really fun combination of brains and guts and that her in this case what happens at the beginning is she’s sort of her brain is operating at the very beginning of the episode and thinking well we rented this space and we have your parents aren’t here and my mom isn’t here.
And Ben sort of appeals to her gut a little bit and says, “Doesn’t it just kind of feel right, though? We could get married anytime, but doesn’t it kind of weirdly feel right to do it tonight right here, right now?” And then her gut kind of takes over and she just kind of goes with her gut.
And there’s sort of a nice scene in the episode of reading signs and looking for signs that something is right. And so it’s fun because as writers you can do whole episodes about Leslie’s brain, which is substantial. And then other episodes about her gut, which is equally intense sometimes and her sort of gut feelings and her raw emotions, which are it’s a totally different sort of side of her that you can tap into.
Amy, when you look back on when you first signed on to do “Parks and Recreation,” in what ways has the show evolved and what surprised you the most about the way the show’s evolved?
Poehler: When you pose that question and the first image that comes to mind is me in my kitchen in New York talking to Mike Schur on the phone and him saying, ‘You’re going to love how we shoot the show and you’re going to never want to shoot anything differently after.”
And I remember that and like the way we shoot the show is so fun. And what I mean by that is that the oxygen that show gets by the way — the writing combined with the way we shoot it I just can’t explain having now directed an episode or two there’s just a freedom that it’s just hard to capture when you’re not shooting in that kind of documentary style. I have to say I’ve always had such faith in Schur and his talent and his writing that there’s not much that surprised me. I know we’ve gone through a lot of changes. We had the really interesting past where we’ve just been this show that every year kind of held on.
And right now feels like this really nice moment where people have watched all of our episodes and are kind of caught up to the episodes that are actually on TV. Like I feel like people are finally where everyone - the timing of it is really nice. But as far as character and story and talent and cast and all that, like I don’t know as soon as we started I felt like, “Oh this is going to be great.” And it’s just continued to be great and it’s just because of the foundation of it, the bones of all of it from the beginning. I think we’re a good match.
It’s surpassed my wildest expectation of how good it could be really honestly. It every minute it just keeps getting better and a more richer experience certainly for me as an actor to do. When you’re doing a single-camera TV show, you spend a lot of time with the people that you’re working with. It’s like your second family. And I can’t imagine working on a show where you didn’t love the people you worked with that you’ve spent so much time with.
Honestly, this show is in many ways I mean saved my life, enriched my life in all these different ways. It’s truly like a job that I’ll never have again I feel. So I’m very grateful for it every minute. The fact that I get to be on something with The best comedic and dramatic cast in television or film, that’s what I get to work with every day.
Did you know “Parks and Recreation” was going to be essentially an ensemble piece or as you discovered the strength of therapist people that you got?
Schur: We always imagined it as an ensemble with Amy at the center. That was always the idea. Obviously Greg Daniels and I were coming off of working on “The Office.” And it was incredibly fun in those first couple years to look around that bullpen and go, “All right, who’s Oscar? Who’s Phyllis? Who’s Stanley? Who’s Toby?” Finding those characters was so fun. And every time we figured one out it just gave us other little spice that you could add to the meal.
And when we conceived of this show, the feeling was the core cast, it’s an ensemble cast and Amy’s at the center but there was also this sense of like that it’s such a cliché to say this and I deeply apologize for saying this but that the town was also a sort of character in the show. We were inventing an entire town with its libraries and its parks and its restaurants and its sanitation workers.
And when I first came out here to interview, I was working at “SNL” and I first came out there to work and to interview for jobs, and I was at Fox. And I saw one of those “Simpsons” posters that they make periodically where it’s like every character who’s every been on “The Simpsons.”
You know, it’s like 350 little adorable animated drawings. And I remember just staring at it for hours and just trying to just parsing it out and going oh I remember that guy and I remember her. Oh my God, the character is so funny every time the bumblebee shows up I’m so happy.
And that kind of just stuck with me and that is such a wonderful thing. We literally have invented an entire town from scratch. And if you’ve been with the show from the beginning, you know the media figures, the people who write for the newspaper — Perd Hapley and Joan Callamezzo and all of these just people who populate the world.
One of the central characteristics of Leslie Knope I that she loves her town more than anything in the world, that she truly at some level she’s no dummy but she just loves it. She doesn’t think it’s better than Paris or London or Rome. But she just loves it and she has a tremendous amount of pride and she works really hard to make it better.
If this show sticks around long enough, we’re going to have a map in our heads of everything that happens in this town. And episodes like [the wedding episode] are really focused more on the main cast. But you do get a sense of like what she means to the town and what the town means to her, which is really nice.
Poehler: And basically when the show is over, the cast and all the writers we’re going to go to a town and we’re going to live there and we’re going to pretend it’s Pawnee until the Department of Tobacco and Firearms tells us we have to leave.
Schur: Yes, it’ll be like “The Truman Show.” We’ll just put cameras everywhere and we’ll just keep making episodes just by going about our daily lives. NBC has already agreed. NBC has already agreed to purchase a town for us. Yes.
Amy and Scott, can you each pick another character on “Parks ad Recreation” who you just particularly love for no apparent reason, maybe just it’s because that you think they’re so ridiculous?
Poehler: There’s so many good ones. It’s insane. What comes to mind is Jason Mantzoukas played the character Dennis Feinstein who was like a perfumer … What would you call him? He’s a scent artist. He does the terrible man colognes, and he’s very successful in the town. And he changed his name from ... What was it? Dante Fiero was his name.
Schur: His name was Dante Fiero but changed it to Dennis Feinstein because that’s much more exotic in Pawnee.
Poehler: And Jason Mantzoukas is hilarious and he’s an awful guy. He’s just like a total pig, like he’s just like a monster. And so they just did a scene recently with Jason and the guy. And Jason, who’s a friend of ours and mine, texted me and he said, “When does Leslie Knope and Dennis Feinstein going to do a scene together?” And I said, “Leslie Knope is not going to come within a mile of Dennis Feinstein.”
Scott: I was just going to say, as Leslie Knope’s husband, I will not let you near Dennis Feinstein.
Schur: I want to say that we also have in addition to Dennis Feinstein and John Ralphio, who’s the other horrifying human being that we’ve gotten to know a lot, we’ve added some really great awful people this year. John Glaser plays Councilman Jamm, who’s sort of Leslie’s nemesis.
He’s truly awful and has some very, very awful moments coming up in the show. And also we meet John Ralphio’s twin sister pretty soon, whose name is Mona-Lisa Saperstein, played by Jenny Slate.
And I have to say that one of my favorite things to do in the world is take one of those awful people — John Ralphio or Dennis Feinstein or Mona-Lisa or it’s really those three — and just put Adam Scott in scenes with them and have them act so horrifying and have Adam just basically be the conscious of the show, just absolutely blown away by how horrifying their behavior is. It’s really enjoyable to me to watch Adam in scenes with Ben Schwartz or Jenny or any of those people. It’s really delightful.
Scott: They really are terrible, terrible people. I got to say Glaser is so funny.
Schur: Glaser’s amazing.
Poehler: I was just going to say it’s a Midwestern town and there’s very nice, kind people there and then there’s also just monsters.
Schur: Monsters yes horrible monsters. And John Ralphio just got caught for counterfeiting euros. Yes, he’s on trial.
Scott: And he’s definitely guilty.
Schur: He’s on trial for ounterfeiting euros. It’s unclear how he’s still walking the streets like with the number of horrible things he did.
Adam, are going to use any of those dance moves in the wedding episode?
Scott: Oh God, for your sake and everyone else who watches the episode, I certainly hope not.
But will there be like a first dance? Are we going to see you guys do a first dance, with Donna singing of course?
Poehler: We can’t give it away if there’s going to be any dancing.
Scott: I don’t think anyone will be. Sorry.
Schur: Go ahead.
Scott: I was just going to say I don’t think anyone will be unsatisfied looking for a good wedding episode of a television show.
Schur: Yes, that’s a good way to put it.
Poehler: Get ready to bawl your eyes out.
Schur: The quest for wedding rings is one of the things that has to be taken care of in this can they pull it off, two-hour planning for the wedding event. And at one point, we did think about that box, which is a very special prop for us.
But we came up with a different kind of delivery mechanism for the rings, which I think is extremely satisfying. And I would only say that everyone should be sure to watch all the way through the episode and through the tag that occurs at the very end of the episode because that sort of tells the story of the rings. So that’s kind of a key moment.
Your co-star Retta is now probably just as famous for being a TV buff and tweeting her favorite shows as observes being on the show. Are there any shows that she’s responsible for converting anyone to into become fans?
Poehler: I don’t know. She tells me a lot of good shows that I should get on board with and watch. Not so much TV, but when we were doing an episode about “Twilight” that Retta had read all the “Twilight” books.
Schur: She was like our “Twilight” researcher on the set. She was the one who was like, “This is wrong. This is wrong. It should be this.” She was so on it, in terms of the way, and that episode contains a little like the “Twilight” book club. And we just basically told Retta, “Just lead the book club; just say whatever real stuff you can think of for ‘Twilight.’”
Poehler: Retta has some deep knowledge about a lot of pop culture. She’s really like she’s kind of the culture vulture of the group I would say. That and Adam knows everything about every movie because he’s watched every film ever and knows everything about it. But Retta, when it comes to TV, I feel like Retta’s up to date more than any of us.
Schur: My favorite thing about Retta’s Twitter feed is like you’ll see her feed and it’ll be like 19 tweets in a row about an episode of “Revenge” or “Scandal” or something that aired the week before and then there’ll be like 19 tweets in a row where she’s just tweeting back to people going, “Then stop following me. Then stop reading my Twitter feed and don’t read me.”
It’s always so funny that she’s just like people are writing to her and saying like stop talking about these TV shows and she’s like then don’t read me. I love her attitude about it. It’s so funny.
It’s like, “Twitter is free, like no one is making you look at Twitter or follow me on Twitter … This is what I’m going to do. It’s up to you whether you want to participate in it or not.” I love that attitude. It’s so like right on the money for the our culture right now. “I’m charging you money. I’m just writing about what I like. Leave me alone.”
Scott: My favorite is when she’s live tweeting an episode of, I don’t know, “Vampire Diaries” from three seasons ago or she’s like just discovered a show that’s long cancelled. I just see her speeding along with an episode of “Dynasty” or something.
Schur: She is so funny, man.
This question is for Amy. Aubrey Plaza was saying somewhere that you’re one of the scariest people she’s ever worked with. You never let her eat food. You’re always telling her to lose weight. Would you like to take this time to respond to that now if you haven’t already?
Poehler: Let’s just say that Aubrey has been a very bad girl. Now she’ll be punished. And that’s all I have to say. When she says these things, it makes me angry and I think she does these things to make me angry and so she’s going to have to get punished. That’s all I have to say. She knows what that means. It’s a whole game we play.
Schur: Sometimes when I’m writing, Amy will just stand over my shoulder and look at the screen and just make small disapproving noises. She’ll just go like, “Oh really?” And then I’ll like look behind her and she’s just staring blankly straight ahead. It’s very intimidating.
Scott: She does this thing with me where when we arrive for a scene just camera blocking or when we’re just reading through a scene she’ll introduce herself to me, as if she forgot who I was. And then through the whole day makes small talk, like get to know you chitchat and everyone knows we know each other, but it just keeps us on our toes as a cast. I guess it’s a really good thing.
Schur: She’s got a lot of power —a lot of alpha-dog power moves that she pulls.
What were some of your favorite moments from filming the wedding?
Poehler: We don’t want to talk too much about it because we don’t want to give away. But what is fun about the wedding episode that’s coming up is that we set up the device that we have to do it really quick. We have to get things done fast and so enlist the entire cast and in many ways the whole town.
Schur: I was just going to say that the glory and the joy of having like a big, awesome, talented cast … but when we were planning this episode in the writers’ room, it was like all right everybody has to have a job and it was very easy to come up with everybody’s job. Like everyone, every character is so strong that they kind of suggest a certain task or role that they could play.
And then watching those play out … There’s a moment earlier on where when they’re dividing up tasks, Ben says we need rings and Chris Traeger says, “Oh let me be on rings. I love what they symbolize,” which was like a nice little Chris Traeger-y line. And then just watching everyone just rush around the town and we go to a lot of locations and there’s a lot of just everyone is always rushing in and out of doors, which lends the episode a really nice kind of fun momentum and urgency.
And it was like it was very fun to conceive of that and then to watch it play out. It’s just everybody kind of spreads out. But no one questions it for one second. That’s another thing that I love. It’s like they say that they’re doing this and everyone’s just like, “All right. What do we do? How do we help?” Which is a nice aspect of the show I think.
Scott: I was just going to say I like the episodes where everyone’s on a call sheet, where the entire cast is on the call sheet where we’re all there together — all 10 cast members. It’s always just so much fun. That’s all.
Schur: The only problem we have with shooting the show — and this is honest-to-God true from a production standpoint — the only issue we have with shooting the show is that when we do scenes where the whole cast is in them, it takes forever because they all like talking to each other so much and hanging out and just like catching up. And sometimes just the nature of TV production is that a week can go by and you don’t see, like Adam won’t see Chris Pratt or Amy won’t see Aziz or something.
And then when you do a scene when everyone is in the same scene, it’s like a fun family reunion where everybody just wants to like hangout and catch up and talk. Yes, that’s our biggest problem from a production standpoint, which is a good problem to have.
Mike, can you talk a little bit about where Andy’s headed now that he’s not able to be a cop?
Schur: Sure. That news was sort of left dangling. We, the audience and Chris Traeger find out that he did not pass his cop exam and that news is going to land on Andy. So then there’s the sort of a question of where does he go from here and we answer that question fairly quickly. And it’s a nice move for him because it taps into something kind of deep inside him that he would never have thought to explore but which makes perfect sense when you understand it, that it’s something that he just sort of has a knack for because of his big, goofy, open heart and his love of helping people.
When we were trying to figure out what he would do next, we went back and looked at all the episodes from the past that have stories with him. And one of the themes of those stories kind of emerged — which is that he just sort of is a big-hearted guy — and so we used that to kind of dictate his next move.
Tom is such a big character. He’s had a number of jobs and a number of lady loves. Can we talk a little bit about how he behaves at a wedding? Does he need a date or is he looking forward to the single ladies?
Schur: The wedding is really about Leslie and Ben and everybody kind of gets that. So it’s not because Tom has a desire to kind of shine at the wedding as he always does in any social situation that he’s in. But it’s not about ladies. It’s about him wanting to be a kind of star at the wedding. And that’s a nice little tiny little story that kind of emerges is the way that he thinks it’s going to go at the beginning of the night and then the way that he sort of alters his behavior towards the end of the night is a nice little story for Tom.
With Leslie and Ben getting married, it seems like a lot of developments on the show are coming to a sort of natural conclusion. So with that said, and I know you said you don’t exactly have concrete plans for this, but what would you guys personally like to see in a possible Season 6, if “Parks and Recreation” geta renewed?
Poehler: There’s so much stuff. Schur and I were just talking about it yesterday about there’s so much rich stuff that we’d like to do and see and because Leslie’s finishing her first term as city councilor and they’re just newly married, her and Ben. Ann is trying to have a baby. April and Andy are at that point in their lives as a young couple and two young people: “Who do we want to be and what do we want to do?”
And the Parks department is constantly being faced with the threat of being cut or being exterminated or being mismanaged. And Ron has a new person in his life and Tom has a new business, so like there’s a lot of really good stuff that the writers did an amazing job of laying out that I know we have thoughts and dreams for Season 6. And even saying Season 6 is so exciting.
Schur: Yes, it’s always at some level about like giving people a satisfying conclusion to certain stories that are ongoing and simultaneously throwing balls up in the air that will throw us forward to next year. Amy and I are writing the finale together right now and that is very much a part of the outline is to sort of tell the story of the end of this year — her first year as city councilor — and wrap it up in a certain way and then also kind of suggest a lot of interesting and fun things that would happen next year in a sort enticing way.
It’s sort of like running like football team or something, like you’re developing the guys who you are on your team, you’re drafting people for the future. It’s sort it’s about both the now and the future at all times, especially on the show when there’s so many storylines and so many characters who warrant getting served with good stories.
So it’s like a big, complicated, messy calculus that we are constantly engaging in but it’s really fun. It’s just there’s nothing more fun than coming up with ideas for these characters. It’s like I would do it forever if I could.
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