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Since you're friends with Our Idiot Brother costars Paul Rudd and Elizabeth Banks, were there any pranks on set?
I don't think we're really the prank types. Whenever I hear that, I think of Mel Gibson putting Joe Pesci's toothbrush on his balls or something. We weren't really doing any of that. Although Paul does like to bring Joe Pesci's toothbrush to every set he works on.
Who's the idiot brother in your family?
It was me for a while. I was the baby of the family, so it's hard to be taken seriously. I came to Los Angeles to be an actor, which is at best a gamble. I feel like if I didn't get any work as an actor, I probably would be up in Santa Cruz right now, crashing on my brother's or my sister's couch, driving them crazy.
In the movie and Party Down, you play aspiring artists who are only getting by. Did you have odd jobs before making it as an actor?
I was lucky enough to never really have to do that. I mean, I did extra work and stuff. I was an extra in a Tia Carrere music video [and] a Danzig video.
What did you wear in the Danzig video?
I was in a caveman outfit. We were all cavemen at some outdoor venue, and [Glenn Danzig] was onstage. We all had weapons and we were in the audience cheering him on. I have no idea what any of it meant.
Are you surprised that Party Down attained a cult status so shortly after its cancellation? What were your expectations for the show?
I kind of figured it would be, at best, something like Psych—not to disparage Psych—but just a show that's there and there are people that like it, but you don't see evidence of a groundswell of passion. It's just a good show that people enjoy. When [Party Down] was on, it never even got to that point, because people just weren't watching it. I think our Nielsen ratings were 0.0, so our ambition to have the kind of Psych-sized audience never even came about. After it got cancelled, people started really getting into it and now I get stopped all the time for Party Down. We never expected anything like that to happen. We just kind of figured this would be something fun to do with out friends, and if it's good, people will see it maybe. If it's bad, then it's on Starz and people probably won't see it, so who cares. I would never have thought it would turn into this thing, and we're happy it did because we're all so proud of it. It definitely was a surprise.
Is there any truth to the rumors about a Party Down movie?
Yeah, we're probably going to do it; we're like 90 percent there. We're hoping to shoot it next summer.
I heard you're a sucker for trashy TV. Is it true?
I've kind of calmed down. Well, The Bachelorette just finished, and I certainly didn't miss a nanosecond of that. I watched the full season and I don't feel like I could have done any more [reality TV] without turning my brain into applesauce.
You have a knack for playing the straight man. Is it hard not to crack up when someone is yelling at you and you're the only sane character on camera?
I'm just glad that there's enough footage of me not laughing to use, because I'm terrible at it. I always start laughing. It happens all the time on Parks and Rec. I mean, if I'm with Amy or Aziz or Chris Pratt, who's just a genius—you know, he's just so fucking funny—it's hard.
Can you give us a preview of the upcoming season?
I can't really say much more than it's going to be a really juicy season. By juicy, I mean we spent a lot of time making smoothies on the show.
Have you read any of the fan fiction on Ben and Leslie's relationship?
Fan fiction for Ben and Leslie? Is it dirty?
It's actually pretty sweet. What is it about that romance that people connect with?
That's cool that people are writing fan fiction; that's awesome. I think that it's a testament to the writers on Parks and Rec. They really took their time developing the relationship before they got them together. It wasn't just a tease to try and build up this will-they-won't-they [story line]. I really care for those characters. I have a lot of affection for them—[they're] sweet, nerdy, well-meaning people. That relationship means a lot to me. Which may sound weird—but I think it's really great.
Our Idiot Brother opens Fri 26. Parks and Recreation's fourth season premieres Sept 22.