Offerman opens the back entrance of the theater. “This is the glamor of it all!” Mullally announces as we continue down a narrow hallway. “Here, for instance, is the dressing room.” Wet Wipes, Old Spice deodorant, nail-polish remover, makeup, cotton rounds, paper towels, hair products, tape and a half-empty bottle of Talisker single-malt scotch sit atop a wooden desk. “The first two weeks we were drinking scotch every night because the play is so emotionally devastating,” Mullally admits.
“Yeah, we were thinking, Which way to the booze?” Offerman adds.
Shirts, slacks and a dress hang neatly on a rack next to a red-framed mirror in the corner of the dressing room. I glance at the mirror and spy Offerman and Mullally looking at each other. They don’t seem to notice and hold their gazes for a few more moments. Mullally turns to me and asks, “Have you ever had a boyfriend where you thought, I’m literally going to throw myself out of this moving vehicle if he doesn’t immediately stop talking? I’ve never felt like that with Nick. I’m glad he is the guy I married and not one of these other jerk men. He’s just a solid human being.”
Offerman drops his pants to the floor.He’s now standing in the dressing room in polka-dot boxers. “Sorry, I have to change. Can you turn around for a moment?” he asks. I shield my eyes. When I uncover them, he’s in a fuzzy purple robe. He sits on a chair in flip-flops and starts painting his toenails with a light brown liquid to make them look dirty.
Fifteen minutes later the curtain rises and the play begins. It opens with Ulysses (Offerman), clad only in an apron and a portable oxygen backpack, reacting to the arrival of his estranged wife Emma (Mullally), who walks through the door after not seeing or talking to him for 20 years. I actually see Offerman’s bare white ass. As the performance goes on, you understand why the couple chose the play—it’s both heartbreaking and hilarious. “I wouldn’t have done it with anyone else,” Mullally told me earlier. “It’s just so intimate. And the way we talk to each other—we aren’t very nice sometimes. To say those things to someone you only know in a friendly way is awkward.”
After the play, audience members swarm Mullally in the lobby, where she signs autographs and talks to her fans. “Sometimes the lobby can be more overwhelming than the show itself,” she tells me as she takes a seat at a nearby table. Offerman follows closely behind. She leans in toward me and says, almost whispering, “We don’t ever get a chance to do something like this. There aren’t many two-person plays that are naturalistic—that get down to the nitty-gritty. We feel very lucky to do this together.” Offerman lays a hand on her shoulder, which makes her hesitate.
“You ready to get out of here?” Offerman asks us while touching his beard with his right hand. He opens the car door for Mullally and me. “Watch your tootsies!” he directs me. Inside, Offerman reflects on the duration of their relationship. “It’s funny that 10 years is considered a lifetime in this burg,” he says. “People ask, ‘How the hell do you manage to stay married so long?’ I think that’s so sad. I mean, that was the idea when we made the bargain to begin with, right?”
* * *
Boxes line the garage of Offerman and Mullally’s 3,800-square-foot Hollywood Hills home. The couple is moving to a new house near the Hollywood Reservoir, only a few miles from here. “We could never get sick of this place, but the neighborhood has turned into a clusterfuck,” Offerman explains. “Developers are coming in and tearing down the old homes to make multimillion-dollar houses that look like the Starship Enterprise.”
“It’s time to move on,” Mullally agrees.
After they purchased the home in 2003, Mullally started decorating it, a hobby of sorts. “She’s got a great eye for collecting art, and I learn from her every day,” Offerman says as he gives me the grand tour. Pen-and-ink drawings hang in the entryway, which leads into a spacious, white-walled living room with an upholstered velvet sofa. A true carpentry junkie, Offerman has added little touches throughout the house, for example, a tiny, short-legged coffee table and a specially constructed latch to open the heavy glass doors that lead to the backyard and pool. Without it, the doors had proved too heavy and difficult for Mullally to open.
But now she easily leads the three of us through them and out into the hazy evening. “If you get into the grass, watch out for the dog bombs!” Offerman warns. The shit barrage is courtesy of their three poodles: Elmo, Clover and Willa. “I was playing guitar for Elmo last night, and he just stared at me,” Offerman says. “He’s the alpha male and sexiest force in the house. He looks at me like, ‘You don’t got shit on me, buddy.’”Upon hearing his name, Elmo takes a crap on the freshly cut grass. Mullally and Offerman look at each other and laugh. “Nick and I are going to go swimming because it’s warm outside,” Mullally informs me. “It will feel nice on the old bod.” Mullally wraps her hand around Offerman’s. He puts his other hand around her waist, looks at her with his blue eyes and bites his lip. I wonder if he’s secretly holding in a huge fart.