Yes Please by Amy Poehler: My Castmates and Friends
RASHIDA JONES (ANN PERKINS): Rashida is my old friend and chosen sister. She is my wife for life. I loved the scenes where it was just Ann and Leslie figuring out a problem. I would go sit on a fake apartment set and be friends with Ann and then go sit in my real trailer and be friends with Rashida. It was so easy to play being in love with Ann because next to my mom and my possible future daughter, Rashida Jones is the prettiest person I have ever met. She is also beautiful inside. We had so many deep conversations about our real lives in our fake offices. Rashida can speak on everything from Rodarte to Rodin to Rhodesia. I am so proud of the real friendship that Leslie and Ann had on-screen. It was important to both Rashida and me to show two women who supported each other and seemed like they would actually be friends.
- My favorite moments on set: Rashida and me singing and dancing between takes.
- A lot of people don’t know: Rashida shares my obsession with miniature fake food.
- I laughed the hardest: The time Rashida and I (Ann and Leslie) had to try to pin Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson) down and feed him medicine in the “Hunting Trip” episode.
NICK OFFERMAN (RON SWANSON): I met Nick Offerman in Chicago in 1997. He had dyed his beard bright orange and his hair was shaped into two devil horns. He looked terrifying. He was doing a production of A Clockwork Orange with some cool theater company. Nick has real theater training and complete control over his instrument. This is why Ron Swanson is one of the best characters ever to be on television. He can do stillness like no other. He is incredibly professional but also giggly. We both talk about how much we love our jobs at least five times a day. He adores his wife and takes nothing for granted. He is someone I would run to when the zombies attack because he can build a boat and is great company.
- My favorite moments on set: Blocking scenes with Nick in Ron’s office.
- A lot of people don’t know: Nick is crazy for his two poodles.
- I laughed the hardest: The time Ron Swanson tried to push Leslie up onto a podium while the entire cast was slipping on ice in the episode “The Comeback Kid.“
AZIZ ANSARI (TOM HAVERFORD): Aziz was a UCB wunderkind who had already had his own sketch show, Human Giant, before he joined Parks. He is a keen observer of the human condition and a lot sweeter and quieter than you would imagine. Like Tom Haverford, he is a total foodie and part-time culture vulture. Aziz and I spent a lot of time together building the world of Pawnee in those first couple of seasons. We stood together in a dusty pit and did our first television promos with a bunch of wild raccoons. We once shot a scene where Aziz had to run the length of a golf course and he barely broke a sweat. He has the stride and work ethic of a long-distance runner.
- My favorite moments on set: Hearing my kids call Aziz “turkey sandwich.” I think it’s because he was eating a turkey sandwich once? Either way they think he is hilarious.
- A lot of people don’t know: Aziz went to business school.
- I laughed the hardest: The night Aziz and I spent shooting in a van during the episode “The Stakeout.”
AUBREY PLAZA (APRIL LUDGATE): Aubrey is my devil child and my girlfriend in crime. She will do anything for me, and me for her. She was an NBC page and made up facts during her studio tours. She was an SNL intern and smoked cigarettes with the set painters. Her great work as April Ludgate turned what could have been a one-note performance into a deep character study. Both the character of April and person of Aubrey are secret softies. When I was going through my divorce and sad about coming back to Los Angeles, Aubrey dressed up as an alien and surprised me at the airport. She is a big-hearted warrior and a good and loyal friend. She speaks Spanish and gets the most sleep of anyone on our show.
- My favorite moments on set: Hugging Aubrey and asking her if she was eating enough.
- A lot of people don’t know: Aubrey has a shrine to Judy Garland in her house.
- I laughed the hardest: The scene in the “Two Parties” episode where April discovers that the illuminated penis hat she is wearing is helping her as she digs to bury stolen artifacts.
CHRIS PRATT (ANDY DWYER): Chris had the best audition I had ever seen. No one knew his work and he came in and crushed. He is a comedy savant and a natural actor in a way I have never really seen. Each take is different and hilarious and completely unexpected. His character was only supposed to be on the show for six episodes, which seems ridiculous now. There are long discussions in the writers’ room about how much Andy knows and doesn’t know. Chris is exactly how you would expect him to be in person: friendly, open, and very strong. When we were going through tough times we would text each other, “How’s the weather?” He also likes hunting and country music. I’ve learned a lot from watching him. He constantly reminds me to stay loose and have fun.
- My favorite moments on set: Watching Pratt do physical comedy. Nobody falls like Pratt. Nobody does pratfalls like Pratt falls.
- A lot of people don’t know: Chris actually plays the guitar and has helped write Mouse Rat songs.
- I laughed the hardest: Any time Andy got distracted in the middle of listening to important instructions, like in the episode “The Trial of Leslie Knope.
ROB LOWE (CHRIS TRAEGER): I can’t believe I am Rob Lowe’s coworker, let alone his friend. For the first few weeks after I met him I hounded him with questions about his movies. The scene when Sodapop comes out of the shower in The Outsiders was a very important moment in my adolescence. Rob gives wise advice and loves to talk about show business. He joined the show at a time when our status was very shaky and he helped keep us on the air. He is a committed father and has great wisdom about raising two boys. He delighted in the rigorous physical challenges we put him and his character through. He played Chris Traeger as a wide-eyed lunatic and loved every minute of it.
- My favorite moments on set: When Chris Traeger would have to go from standing still to a full sprint in less than five seconds.
- A lot of people don’t know: We have a nickname for Rob. It’s RoLo, and he loves it.
- I laughed the hardest: When Chris Traeger played “air banjo” in the backseat during the “Road Trip” episode.
RETTA SIRLEAF (DONNA MEAGLE): Retta can sing opera and cry on cue. She is a very warm person who does not suffer fools. The character of Donna Meagle has grown because Retta keeps adding small details in the fine work she does. I love how Donna is the only character who really holds her own against Ron Swanson. I love how she has nothing in common with Leslie Knope but tolerates her anyway. When we were rehearsing in the first few weeks of the show, Greg Daniels had me give a tour of the office and introduce everyone to camera. Retta, whom I barely knew, was sitting at Donna’s station pretending to be on the phone. I came over and checked out the stuff on her desk and noticed a yellow leaf pinned up on a bulletin board behind her. I asked her where it came from and she deadpanned, “Outside.”
- My favorite moments on set: Retta talking about anything she loves or hates.
- A lot of people don’t know: Her aunt is the president of Liberia.
- I laughed the hardest: When Donna Meagle cried after a bullet hit her Benz in the “Hunting Trip” episode.
JIM O’HEIR (GARY/JERRY/LARRY/TERRY GERGICH): The character of Jerry is allowed to be such a loser because Jim the person is such a winner. He is sweet and funny and has the best timing of anyone on our show. He is a fine actor from Chicago who made what could have been a bad one-joke character into someone you root for and against. In real life, teasing him is okay because we all love him. In the show, Gary/Jerry/Larry/Terry is married to Christie Brinkley and has a gigantic penis. He is my parents’ favorite.
- My favorite moments on set: Everybody making fun of Jerry.
- A lot of people don’t know: Jim has a huge tongue.
- I laughed the hardest: When Jerry suffered a “fart attack” in “Halloween Surprise.” Jim played it so real and it was ridiculous.
ADAM SCOTT (BEN WYATT): Adam is my TV husband and I couldn’t ask for a better partner to fake come home to. The characters of Ben and Leslie have gone through so much together and I feel so lucky to have had Adam by my side. The fact that people cared about our TV love story is because Adam is a tremendous actor; he listens intently and always makes me better. Ben-and-Leslie scenes were exciting and nerve-racking to shoot because we all cared so much about making them work. Adam is a kind person who loves his family and cares about the people he works with. He also speaks slowly and tells really long and boring stories and someone needs to tell him to cut the shit. Adam always has fresh breath for kissing scenes and a very dry sense of humor.
- My favorite moments on set: Any time Leslie and Ben kiss.
- A lot of people don’t know: Adam grew up in Santa Cruz and insists it’s totally acceptable to drive barefoot.
- I laughed the hardest: When Ben had a kidney stone and lost his mind on morphine in the “Partridge” episode.
- I cried the hardest: When Ben got down on one knee and proposed to Leslie.