The Founders Nick Offerman: Being American means that I have to stand up and march

The Parks and Recreation stars new film charts the rise of McDonalds head honcho Ray Kroc. He talks about resisting the rise of another capitalist narcissist

Hi, Nick. Were you disappointed that The Founder didnt get any Oscarnominations?

Well, I generally ignore that part of the business, because it is infuriating. Its simply not merit-based. Its a lot like American politics.

Its strange, because a story of asharky, capitalist sociopath seems quite fitting for the times.

It does. Unintentionally, too. Its areally fascinating story, and the timing just worked out. It lined up quite neatly with the rise of another famousnarcissist.

What are your feelings about McDonalds?

I was already staunchly opposed to fast food, because I enjoy the writing of Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser (1) and considered fast food the enemy. But the movie is a fascinating American story. I think a good percentage of the audience will see this movie and feel that Ray Kroc (2) is a hero, and its too bad about those poor McDonald brothers, but thats business. Hes an incredibly terrible person, but the film does a great job of maintaining hishumanity.

Offerman as Dick McDonald in The Founder.

Krocs worldview was: If you want to succeed, you have to destroy your competitors. Youre successful, so whose lives have you destroyed?

I come from small Chicago theatre companies, where you pretty much have to collaborate and maintain your humility if you want to thrive. I also grew up in a very hardworking family of salt-of-the-earth American unsung heroes. Ive learned that I always create a club or a family around me, because I understand so well the precept that many hands make light work. So far I have not had to crush anyone beneath my jackboot.

Youre also very American. What does it mean to be American right now?

Boy, the mantle has grown much heavier in recent weeks. Its a hard pill to swallow that part of being American means people with very disagreeable worldviews sometimes win the vote. And so, to me personally, being American means that I have to stand up and march and shake my fist and employ my invaluable powers of dissension.

Youre very politically vocal on Twitter.

I have a hard time shitting out my mediocre jokes when we have ahandful of white guys in office immediately laying waste to a lot of precepts of American decency. Im grateful to Twitter as an avenue in which Ican vent my ire, because otherwise Id be out burning down a building orsomething.

I was reading Gumption (3) recently. Ifyou had to write a sequel, who would you include?

Gosh, well, I think Id talk to more civil rights activists. Also John Cleese was going to be in the first one. I was going to make him an honorary American, and that would allow me to address issues such as this unbelievable xenophobic Muslim ban thats going on right now.

What was the last jigsaw puzzle you completed?

Its a little controversial, but my wife [actor Megan Mullally] curates the puzzle choices. We get the dumbest … you wouldnt believe the things that people make puzzles of. Theyre often really touching scenes with Jesus. Recently there was one which was just an image of a wooden door, and Jesus is standing with his hands raised to knock, and the name of the puzzle was Let Him In (4). In our household, thats a very enjoyable notion.

If you got the chance to revive your role as that crazy old racist from the second series of 24 (5), would you?

I did three episodes of that show as a young, broke actor, and it was a windfall in terms of income and medical insurance. But given my druthers (6) now, those kinds of shows arent my bag. I am interested in more curious and humane storytelling than is usually to be found on atelevisionprocedural.

Last question: my dad has just retired, and he has taken up minor woodworking (7). Its his birthday soon, so what should I get him?

It all depends on what hes making. If you know, for example, what sort of wood he likes to use, then you might cast about your area and find a local sawyer with some locally sourced hard wood. Thats always a wonderful gift. Especially in England and Scotland, there are some amazing woods. If you Google Scottish bog oak youll find some incredibly treasured elderish woods that have been preserved in bogs. You can get some really nifty stuff.


1) The McDonalds-making subject of The Founder. Not a great guy, all round.

2) ur welcome 2 come feel the weight of my feminist balls in your tiny hand

3) Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with Americas Gutsiest Troublemakers, Offermans book of essays about great Americans.

4) Please click on that link. It is spectacular.

5) Sample dialogue: Euros? Do I look European to you?

6) From Collins: US informal, humorous, meaning choice or preference

7) Offerman runs a carpentry firm and wood shop in LA.

The Founder is released in the UK on 17 February

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