- “Parks and Recreation” premiered on NBC on April 9, 2009.
- The beloved political satire combined seasoned comedians, like Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, with fresh faces with plenty of star power, like Chris Pratt and Aubrey Plaza.
- Here’s what they’re all up to these days.
The peerless cast of “Parks and Recreation,” most often referred to as “Parks and Rec,” managed to give viewers the unthinkable: A respect for public service and an undying love for the unremarkable, aggressively unhealthy, fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana.
Following a critically acclaimed seven-season run on NBC, the show wrapped in 2015.
Each member of the cast has gone on to use their talents for acting, comedy, and improvisation elsewhere.
Here’s what everyone has been up to.
Amy Poehler starred as Leslie Knope: Parks enthusiast, aspiring politician, and eternal optimist.
Amy Poehler was a star in the comedy world before landing her own primetime network series, largely thanks to roles in movies like “Wet Hot American Summer,” “Mean Girls,” and “Baby Mama” – not to mention her eight-year run on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”
Poehler received six consecutive Primetime Emmy Award nominations for portraying Leslie Knope, the heart and soul of “Parks and Rec.”
She won a Golden Globe for best actress in a TV musical or comedy series in 2014.
Poehler says she’s still “thirsty” for more “Parks and Rec.”
Since wrapping “Parks and Rec” in 2015, she lent her voice to the lead character of Pixar’s “Inside Out” and starred with her comedic partner, Tina Fey, in “Sisters.” In 2016, after 17 unsuccessful nominations, she finally won an Emmy for co-hosting the Christmas episode of “SNL” with Fey.
At the PaleyFest “Parks and Recreation Reunion Panel” in March 2019, Poehler revealed that she would be very open to making more episodes.
“I’m what the kids call ‘thirsty’ when it comes to ‘Parks and Rec,'” she told “Access.” “I know I’m extra.”
Rashida Jones played Leslie’s best friend, Ann Perkins.
In fact, Poehler and Jones revealed at PaleyFest 2019 that Leslie and Ann’s friendship was based on their own.
Schur added that he thought the saddest day on the show was when Jones left the regular cast in the middle of season six, when Ann moved to Michigan with her partner.
Jones has continued her reign on prime-time TV.
Jones’ work on “Parks and Rec” overlapped with her work on another beloved mockumentary-style sitcom: “The Office.”
In the years since, most notably, she starred as the titular character on the Emmy-nominated TBS series “Angie Tribeca.”
Jones is also voicing a lead character in a new animated family comedy helmed by Poehler. Fox has ordered 13 episodes of the show, titled “Duncanville,” which is currently in post-production.
Nick Offerman was “dead-on” as Ron Swanson, the director of the Pawnee parks department.
“Nick Offerman walked onto the set as Ron Swanson from day one, and if you look back, there’s one talking-head segment where he talks about bacon-wrapped shrimp, and the palpable joy in his voice – he was dead-on,” Schur told The AV Club.
Offerman has admitted that he and the stubborn, standoffish character “share hobbies,” like woodworking and drinking scotch. He’s also married to his onscreen ex-wife, Megan Mullally.
Offerman has made his rounds on both the big and small screens since the series ended.
Offerman has recurring voice roles on the popular animated series “Bob’s Burgers” and “The Lego Movie” franchise.
He’s made appearances in a number of acclaimed TV shows, like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Fargo,” and landed roles in big-budget films like “Bad Times at the El Royale” and the upcoming Natalie Portman-led film, “Lucy in the Sky.”
Chris Pratt helped create everyone’s favourite goofball, Andy Dwyer.
Chris Pratt had appeared on the WB show “Everwood” and Fox’s “The O.C.,” but found a new level of fame with “Parks and Rec” – even though Andy wasn’t meant to last beyond season one.
“We originally conceived of Andy as a character who would fade away after the first six [episodes] or so, but Chris was so great we had to make him full-time – and we decided that right after we cast him,” co-creator Mike Schur revealed in 2009. “It seemed like a waste to have him around for such a short time.”
Pratt is known for improvising Andy’s hilarious one-liners on the fly.
Schur’s personal favourite? When Leslie has the flu on season three, and Andy tells her: “I typed your symptoms into the thing up here and it says you could have network connectivity problems.”
“As a writer, it was very depressing frankly, because I have never written a joke that good,” Schur told Seth Meyers. “And I almost didn’t put it in, just out of spite.”
Pratt now stars in three massive franchises.
Pratt has become a bona fide movie star: He stars as Owen in the “Jurassic World” franchise, Emmet in “The Lego Movie” series, and as Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) in the MCU.
Aubrey Plaza was perfect as April Ludgate, an aloof intern with a dark sense of humour.
The part of April was written specifically for Aubrey Plaza, whom the casting director described as “the weirdest person I’ve ever met.”
“Aubrey Plaza showed up at my office and, for an hour, made me more uncomfortable than I’ve ever been,” Schur said at a Paley Center panel in 2012. “Just by kind of staring at me with a look that was like, ‘You’re old and I don’t like you that much.'”
“She left and I immediately just sat down and wrote a scene – it wasn’t a character in the pilot as it stood at that moment – but I just wrote a scene where Leslie was trying to get a young, college-aged intern to do something, and the college-aged intern made Leslie feel the way that Aubrey had just made me feel,” he said.
Plaza has said that constantly being associated with April is a “challenge” in her career.
“I don’t want any role to ever define me,” Plaza told Business Insider in 2017. “Being on a television show for seven years was the greatest gift that was ever given to me and I wouldn’t change it for second. But I think moving forward, it’s very important to me for people to not associate me so heavily with the characters that I play.”
Pratt and Plaza still have great chemistry.
It was Plaza’s idea to pair April and Andy together, even though their characters are basically opposites. She improvised a line on the season one finale that inspired the writers to test the characters’ chemistry.
“Somehow, it seemed to make sense that April Ludgate would be tired of only scowling at things, and could fall for a guy who is nothing but upbeat and positive,” Schur told The AV Club.
Aziz Ansari played the aspiring entrepreneur, Tom Haverford.
Much of Tom Haverford’s charm was thanks to Aziz Ansari’s delivery. The stand-up comedian managed to elevate the character from an irritating, inconsiderate striver to an endearing, loyal friend with big dreams.
“There are definitely small elements of our real personalities in all the ‘Parks’ characters,” he wrote during a Reddit AMA. “I have elements of Tom (hopefully just non-douchey ones).”
Ansari was widely praised for his Netflix series “Master of None,” but has largely avoided the spotlight since facing sexual misconduct allegations.
Since “Parks and Rec,” Ansari has published a book about dating called “Modern Romance” and lent his voice to a recurring character on “Bob’s Burgers.”
Most notably, he created and starred on two seasons of Netflix’s “Master of None,” for which he has won two Emmys and a Golden Globe.
However, Ansari hasn’t produced any new content for his award-winning show since he was accused of sexual misconduct in 2018. An anonymous woman, who says she went on a date with Ansari, alleges he forced himself on her despite numerous “cues” that she “wasn’t interested.”
The accusation, published as an article on Babe.net, sparked an online firestorm and debate over what constitutes abuse.
Netflix has said it “would be happy to make another season of ‘Master of None’ when Aziz is ready.”
Retta stole scenes as the ultimate Mercedes-Benz enthusiast, Donna Meagle.
As Donna Meagle, Retta was able to tell it how it is, fawn over expensive goods, and give life to the show’s most memorable motto: “Treat yo’ self.”
“I personally see her as the voice of the audience,” Retta told Vulture of her onscreen persona. “She sees the ridiculous stuff everyone does, and she kinda says to the audience, ‘I get it. I know they’re crazy, too. But they’re family.'”
She currently stars on NBC’s “Good Girls,” alongside Christina Hendricks and Mae Whitman.
Retta has also appeared in films like “Where’s the Money,” “Father Figures,” and “Other People.”
Adam Scott was introduced to the cast on season two as the adorably nerdy Ben Wyatt.
Adam Scott initially guest-starred on two episodes as Ben Wyatt, a buttoned-up Indiana state auditor. He later took a job as Pawnee’s Assistant City Manager and became a series regular on season three.
Ben and Leslie quickly became infatuated with each other and got married in a spontaneous wedding ceremony at City Hall during season five.
Scott is set to return for season two of HBO’s “Big Little Lies.”
Rob Lowe warmed many hearts as Chris Traeger.
Chris Traeger was introduced alongside Ben Wyatt at the end of season two.
Rob Lowe brought the optimistic, health-obsessed character to life – whilst forever changing the way many fans hear the word “literally.” He eventually became Pawnee’s City Manager and settled down with Ann Perkins.
“Chris has a lot of feelings. I just think that the concept of someone who feels as much as Chris does is funny,” Lowe told Elle of the character. “I think there’s something about seeing someone who looks so put together being so vulnerable.”
Lowe currently boasts his own reality show and is set to star on a new miniseries for ITV.
Lowe established himself as a movie star and heartthrob as a member of the “Brat Pack,” who became teen idols by dominating the coming-of-age genre in the ’80s. He broke back into TV as Sam Seaborn on NBC’s “The West Wing” and re-established himself as an onscreen darling with “Parks and Rec.”
Since then, Lowe has lent his voice to various animated series like “The Lion Guard,” based on Disney’s “The Lion King,” and currently stars on an adventurous A&E reality series “The Lowe Files” with his two sons.
Jim O’Heir played Gary Gergich (aka Jerry, or Larry, or Terry).
Fellow cast members have describedJim O’Heir as the actor least similar to his character, the bumbling and impossibly pure Jerry (born Gary), who’s relentlessly teased and re-named by his co-workers.
“I really believe that Jerry is – at least Jerry believes this – that they think the world of him,” O’Heir told Vulture ahead of season six. “As much as they s— on him and as much as they use him as a punching bag, there are episodes where they have his back and they come to his rescue.”
“And they also realise that Jerry has the best life out of all of them,” he continued. “He has a family that adores him, he has a large penis! He has everything! I mean, he really has a lot going on. So, you know, sometimes I think they’re just jealous.”
O’Heir has continued to land roles for both movies and TV.
O’Heir has been busy since wrapping “Parks and Rec,” landing roles on everything from Andy Samberg’s comedy series “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” to the recent film “Smothered by Mothers.”
Ben Schwartz stole every scene as Tom’s irresponsible best friend, Jean-Ralphio Saperstein.
Ben Schwartz’s Jean-Ralphio was a secondary character on “Parks and Rec,” but he popped up at Tom’s side throughout the show – singing, scamming people out of money, irritating Ron, and trying to confess his love to Leslie.
“I’ve never seen a brain like his when it comes to improv,” O’Heir told Vulture of Schwartz. “He’s just brilliant. Completely brilliant.”
Schwartz is a successful voice actor and recently starred in the Netflix original movie, “Happy Anniversary.”
Schwartz is currently lending his voice to the animated series “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” His voice has also appeared in “DuckTales” and “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.”
Paul Schneider was part of the original cast as Mark Brendanawicz.
Paul Schneider left the show at the end of season two, when Mark quits his job after Ann dumps him.
Schneider most recently appeared on Broadway.
Schneider is known best for his pre-Pawnee work, which includes “Lars and the Real Girl,” “All the Real Girls,” and “Elizabethtown.”
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