TV Goodness Q&A: Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, and Executive Producer Mike Schur, Parks and Recreation
[WARNING: SPOILERS FOR TONIGHT AND FUTURE EPISODES]
We participated in a press call with Parks and Rec stars Amy Poehler and Adam Scott, as well as executive producer Mike Schur. We got a lot of great info on the show and even a little bit of information on tonight’s nuptials.
Ben’s introduction on the show:
EP Mike Schur explains, “…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 men — different kinds of men — over the course of the show and that she would sort of learn something different from each of them. And thatâ€™s why there was a sort of she learned a little something from Mark Brendanawicz. She learned something for Louis C.K.â€™s character. She learned something from Justin Theroux. And we were sort of like oh Adam Scott, thatâ€™s good. Sheâ€™ll date him for a while and sheâ€™ll learn something about herself from him.”
When the writers knew Ben was ‘the one’ for Leslie:
After the ‘Freddy Spaghetti’ episode Mike says, “…they have a conversation and Leslie smiled at him and walks off and thereâ€™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.”
Intel on the Wedding:
Mike tells us, “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 weekâ€™s episode [Ben and Leslie] 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 weâ€™re for the first time are going to feature beautiful and professionally trained singing voice on the show a couple times…”
Amy Poehler adds, “…the whole entire cast are going to have to band together to see if they can pull it off. And those kind of episodes like can we pull this off with the clock running, whatâ€™s going to happen, are always really fun to shoot.” She continues with, “Leslie like can be kind of supercilious and over plan and over do things, but sheâ€™s a modern woman. So itâ€™s not like she has these weird fantasies about marriage or weddings necessarily. So itâ€™s just kind of a combination of her liking to be in control and whatâ€™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.”
Mike elaborates, “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 sheâ€™s sort of her brain is operating at the very beginning of the episode and thinking well we rented this space and we have, you know, your parents arenâ€™t here and my mom isnâ€™t here. And Ben sort of appeals to her gut a little bit and says, ‘Doesnâ€™t it just kind of feel right, though?’ like doesnâ€™t it feel right to – we could get married anytime, but doesnâ€™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 thereâ€™s sort of a nice scene in the episode of reading signs and looking for signs that something is right. And so itâ€™s fun because as writers you can do whole episodes about Leslieâ€™s brain — which is substantial — and then you could whole other episodes about her gut — which is equally intense sometimes and her sort of gut feelings and her raw emotions — which are itâ€™s a totally different sort of side of her that you can tap into.”
Intel on the rings:
Mike says, “…thereâ€™s a moment earlier on where when theyâ€™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 Traegery line.” Later he urges us 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 thatâ€™s kind of a key moment.”
Favorite Ben and Leslie scene or moment:
Amy says, “I thought the proposal was so beautifully written. And because I remember us walking into Joe Bidenâ€™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 Mikeâ€™s writing — which is always a combination of really sweet and heartfelt and it felt very earned but also just very funny. And thereâ€™s a lot of that in the wedding episode. Thereâ€™s a moment in the wedding episode thatâ€™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.”
Adam Scott adds, “I would probably say the wedding just because itâ€™s really something and being there for it. You know, it really felt like we were at a real wedding. I mean I think all of us, the whole cast was there. We were all there and it just felt itâ€™s really it was a very special evening, you know. It was at night and we were all there in this wedding and itâ€™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 â€œRoad Tripâ€ where Leslie and Ben kind of – itâ€™s kind of 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 itâ€™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 thatâ€™s one of my favorites. And the proposal is lovely and really funny as well.”
Mike weighs in with, “Yes I would I think those are the three I would pick. I mean after the wedding airs Iâ€™ll probably – I would probably say the wedding. But I like the proposal the most of the things that have actually aired I think because Iâ€™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 weâ€™ve told on the show is we just try to always be surprising to the audience”
On character development:
Amy says, “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.”
Mike adds, “I would say that part of the joy of the [Ben and Leslie] and their relationship is that they have three-dimensional lives and theyâ€™re both very committed not only to each other but their careers and to their friends and to the just, you know, living a sort of full life.”
Is this the end of Ben’s love affair with calzones?
Adam says, “Well I feel like Ben was betrayed by calzones. But as you know when youâ€™re betrayed thereâ€™s – let me just say that thereâ€™s a period of shame and then thereâ€™s always forgiveness. Iâ€™m not going – I donâ€™t want to predict anything or spoil anything. But I know that forgiveness is something thatâ€™s always possibility.
Amy adds, “And Iâ€™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 itâ€™s like a lot of people are worried. Yes itâ€™s like enoughâ€™s enough. Like how many times does a calzone have to disappoint you before you let it go? Like stop worrying about the calzoneâ€™s feelings and like just live your life, man.”
Â What’s next for Andy since he can’t be a cop?
Mike explains, “…thereâ€™s the sort of a question of where does he go from here and we answer that question fairly quickly. And itâ€™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 itâ€™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 decided – 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.”
What will we see in season six?
Amy explains, “…thereâ€™s so much rich stuff that weâ€™d like to do and see and because, you know, Leslieâ€™s finishing her first term as city councilor and theyâ€™re just newly married, her and Ben, and Ann is trying to have a baby and April and Andy are at that point in their lives as a young couple and two young people like well 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 thereâ€™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 for Season 6. And even saying Season 6 is so exciting.”
Mike adds, “Yes itâ€™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.”
Tune in tonight at 8:30/7:30c for back-to-back episodes of Parks and Recreation on NBC.
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