When you began filming the final season of Parks and Recreation, your TV husband, Chris Pratt (who plays Andy), had in real life just anchored last year’s biggest movie, Guardians of the Galaxy. How did success go to the head of one of the nicest guys around?
He forgot my name, which is the weirdest thing about the whole situation. I guess when you’re the star of a Marvel movie and super, super famous and you’re flown all over the world, you meet so many people that your ability to pay attention is gone. So yeah, he forgot my name. I mean my real name, not my character April on the show. I had to keep reminding him, and he’d say, “Oh right. Right, right.” But I don’t fault him, because being a movie star is hard. They say that movie stars meet 60 times more people than the average person, so of course your brain gets cloudy. I don’t hold that against him. I think he’s great. [laughs]
None of that is true, by the way. You told me it would be okay to lie. Chris did not forget my name. He’s the kindest, most amazing person ever, and he didn’t change a bit except that his fucking body is ripped beyond belief. He’s the same old lovable golden retriever of a man I had to hug and touch and kiss a lot—because it’s my job. I just tried to make the best of it.
Here’s a question from one of your Parks and Recreation cast mates. “When one examines your talent, beauty and humor, not to mention your excellent many teeth, it is quite apparent that you have entered into a bargain with Lucifer. What services did the Dark Father require of you in exchange for your winning glamours?”
That’s like a backhanded compliment. You’re not going to tell me who? Oh wait, I know. This is from Satan himself, the Dark Lord, Nick Offerman. We have an evil connection. It’s a very good question. The Dark Father required many things of me: the blood of a thousand infants, the teeth of a thousand corpses. I have it all written down on my iPad.
Does Nick require that you be as fearless as he is when it comes to getting or playing a part?
Do you mean having sex with people to get a part? We’re similar in that way too. He taught me that. He was one of the first people out here who told me you have to have sex with the most people you can, especially the ones who make decisions, and I said okay. You don’t even have to confine it to business. Use sex to get whatever you’re trying to get.
You’re TV’s modern queen of the deadpan look. Do you have a favorite?
A dead-eyes stare. No eyebrow movement, no facial creases at all; you just stare right into someone’s soul—the Botox deadpan.
You’re named after a song by Bread. When you think of bread, what kind comes to mind?
Just a straight-up bag of Wonder Bread. I would never buy that now, but I grew up on it, and SpaghettiOs and hot dogs and stuff like that.
You went to an all-girls Catholic high school. Defend single-sex education.
I loved it. I would send my kid to an all-girls school. Some people say it’s no good, that it’s not the real world and girls won’t learn how to interact normally. I disagree. At that age it was helpful to eliminate the distraction of guys in school. I like uniforms. I didn’t have to think about dressing myself or how I looked. I just focused on the important stuff. It made me more confident in the classroom.
Is show business conducive to long-term love relationships?
Oh God, I don’t think so, not from what I can see, and I look very hard for it. I’m curious about that. Whenever I meet a married couple who are in the business, I always ask them a million questions to figure out what’s really going on, because I don’t know how that’s going to work out. For a successful actor there are lots of choices and temptations. We’re all just human. Actors are like con artists. We want to make a memorable impression. Amy Poehler once gave me good advice. She said when someone is charming, it’s an action. Charm is a verb, not a quality.
You’ve said that you admire Charlie Sheen and Bill Murray because they’re unapologetic about who they are. Do you aspire to be part of that tradition? Famous people get lots of stuff projected on them and feel constantly judged. It can take a toll. Charlie and Bill, both of whom I’ve worked with, don’t seem affected by fame or status. They are who they are. I don’t even aspire to fame. I just want to work and not let anything else affect me. But I’m only human, so sometimes I care too much—or too little—about what others think.
We read that you wanted to play Dr. Bruce “the Hulk” Banner’s cousin, superhero She-Hulk. Given all the garment rending, describe her wardrobe options.
I don’t know if I was sober when I said that, but I would like that part. Give it to me. It would be fun to play a sexy scientist who gets really angry and can then do anything she wants. I would like to be wearing a sexy business-casual outfit that rips when I get big and then I’m wearing—I don’t know, maybe a sports bra and some boy shorts? Something sporty so I can run around and fuck shit up. Or maybe a slip, some kind of undergarments but keeping it classy.
Is it true you once kissed Patrick Stewart on the mouth?
Yes. He was at the American Comedy Awards. Amy Poehler and I were sitting at the table, and we knew we were going to win for best comedy series, but we were the only people there from our cast. We had to go on stage alone and didn’t have a bit—which we realized once the awards were being given out everyone else had. So Amy and I were drinking and trying to figure out what to do, and she came up with the idea to ask a bunch of random people to stand up and go on stage with us and pretend they were in our cast. Patrick was one. He was a really good sport. They called our names, and Amy and I stood up. He stood up. We kissed him on the mouth, held hands and ran up on stage. Amy made a big speech about how Patrick was a writer for our show and they were bumping him up to cast member because he’d been so good. He totally played along and was awesome.
When you read mean tweets about yourself, is it no big deal or is it painful?
I have read tweets in the past, but I’ve stopped. It bothered me. Twitter is evil. It’s a place for people to bully and be mean to others. I think it would bother anyone.
Okay, but you’re on Twitter.
Yeah, but not to read about myself. I’ve created a Twitter persona, @evilhag. That’s also how I do talk shows. It’s a version of me but not really me. It’s a character. Sometimes I’ll do a sincere thing, but mostly it’s just a waste of my life and my brain energy, so I’m getting off it. Okay? I’m going to get off it right now. I can’t do it anymore. [pauses, looks at her iPhone] But I have so many followers. No, it just feels like drugs. But the more followers you get, you’re like, Oh shit, people like me. It feels good. [pauses] I guess I’m not going to quit.
You once told Conan O’Brien a story about stealing a paper from the desk of Vice President Joe Biden when he gave you a tour of the White House. How surprised are you that you didn’t choose a life of crime?
Very. If I weren’t an actor, maybe I’d be a criminal. I would love to rob a bank. You know, just stickin’ it to the man. The rush of the heist. In fact, I might do it—but in an old-timey kind of way, like Bonnie and Clyde. Banks today are probably too hard to rob because they’re all futuristic. But I would be the cool robber. I would have a side conversation with the person I’m robbing: “I’m cool. I’m not going to hurt you.” I would develop a relationship with them and make them emotionally invested in me. Then I would rob them again.
What’s your theory of career management?
Don’t trust anyone. Have no loyalty to anyone, no matter who they are. Never do anything for money. Honestly, I just try to make good choices. The most important thing is to focus on the actual art and the work and try to block out all the noise when you’re making a decision. I have moments of weakness when I see dollar signs and try to convince myself a certain role could be a good thing for me but I know deep down that it isn’t. You have to follow your gut. You can’t be distracted by competition and comparing yourself to others.
Showers or baths?
I like to take a bath every day or I feel weird. I like to put some stuff in the water and make a little potion, then zone out. Sometimes I take a shower before I get in, but mostly I just sit there by myself and think about all my regrets and the bad choices I’ve made.
Many of the Parks and Recreation cast have written books: Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Rob Lowe. Are you feeling the pressure?
Well, I am writing a book—of poetry. So everyone can go fuck themselves, because my book will be better than all of their books. I have a title: The Worst Book of Poetry You’ve Ever Read. I’m not Rob Lowe. I don’t have a lifetime of interesting things to say. But if I take Nick’s advice and sleep around, maybe I should start making lists.
You’re half Puerto Rican. When does that part of you come out to play?
Generally around 6:30 P.M. Before that I’m more Irish. My Puerto Rican side likes the flavor coconut. It likes to party and cook and be late for things. Except for today; I was early for our interview.
Who of your comedic peers would you follow around all day if you could?
Garry Shandling. Anything that comes out of his mouth is funny. Fred Armisen too. I’ve been obsessed with people before. I’ve never stalked anyone, but I’m not afraid of that.
You appeared on the recently renewed NBC sitcom called Welcome to Sweden. The main character, Amy Poehler’s brother Greg, goes to Sweden for love. What would you do for love?
How do you know this? I basically did that exact thing in my real life. I went to Sweden to find real love, which is why I know how to speak Swedish. When I was in high school I dated a Swedish exchange student, Johan. When you’re 16 and in love you think it’s the real deal. I was totally obsessed. I started to learn Swedish. I thought I was going to live in Sweden and have Swedish babies. We dated the whole time he was in America, and then he went back to Sweden when the program was over. Technically we never broke up, but over time we lost touch. Mentally, I always went back to him after failed relationships. I’d think, Well, technically Johan and I are still together, because we never really broke up. It was this weird thing in my head.
Ten years later, after a breakup, I thought about him again, and it struck me that there could be a really great movie about a girl who dated a Swedish exchange student and goes to Sweden 10 years later to find him. I’d write it. Then I thought, Maybe I should actually do it and write it while I’m doing it. I booked a ticket to Sweden, looked him up online and e-mailed him. He was living in a town called Gothenburg. I totally lied to him and told him it was a work trip. He said, “Great, I’d love to see you. I’ll pick you up for dinner.” I flew over, rested up, got ready and went downstairs to meet him. He was there with a woman. “This is my girlfriend who I live with,” he said. “Oh,” I said. “Cool! Great!” The three of us went out to dinner, and it was the worst drunken dinner ever.
Last summer you were in the film About Alex, which has been described as a quarter-life-crisis version of The Big Chill. You’re 30 now. What was your quarter-life crisis, and how did you get through it?
My quarter-life crisis is probably happening right this moment. Filming the final season of my show has ended. I have no idea what I’m going to do now. Do I want to live in California or New York or Europe or in the woods? Do I want a baby now or wait until I’m 40? It’s said that every seven years your cells regenerate and you become a new person, so it’s kind of fitting that Parks and Recreation is a seven-year show, because in so many ways I’m an entirely different person now than when I started. Now I’m totally beaten down by the system, man. Then, I was just a wide-eyed weird New York comedian. Now I’m a jaded L.A. douchebag. [laughs] Now is the first time I’ll have a totally clean slate in terms of my schedule. The world is my oyster and I have no idea about anything except that I’m going to go big. I want some shit to happen!