When Megan Mullally first met Nick Offerman in 2000, she thought he was older. That might have had something to do with his mustache and bald head, shaved for the play they were doing, rather than the fact that the 29-year-old actor and skilled craftsman was living in someone's unfinished basement with no real floor or walls.
"When we met, I was 41, and I'd always had younger guys pursue me, and I was really sick of it," Mullally shared with GQ. "And so I met Nick and I thought, Oh, great,'cause this guy's like 38!'"
She soon found out that he was more than 11 years younger than she is—"and I was pissed," she admitted. But what's a few moons difference between soul mates?
In fact, it was only a matter of time before they were sealing the deal, in front of some curious coyotes in a rustic park nestled off one of Los Angeles' famed canyons.
"It was early on and I feel like so many of the pleasures in our marriage have been cruise-directed by Megan, and this was no exception," Offerman said in recalling their date night tryst on a 2018 episode of the podcast Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend. "After our play one night, we went to a fancy grocery store, which was a new thing for me, and got a baguette and cheeses and a bottle of nice wine, and she knew the park. She may have been there before me…"
"It wasn't my first coyote," Mullally quipped.
But there's been no one she'd rather mate with since.
Offerman's look at the time, however, was "not cute," Mullally said, describing her future husband and co-star in an Evidence Room Theatre Company production of The Berlin Circle. "There was a lot of back hair."
Furthermore, upon their first meeting, Offerman was wearing gold-colored overalls that he'd use as a notepad because "he couldn't afford paper," the Will & Grace star continued. And his basement room was so ramshackle, "he could just urinate indiscriminately in any given corner of his lodgings."
"I would get a few feet away from my bed," Offerman offered. "I wasn't an animal."
"So that was the jumping-off point," Megan noted wryly.
We could've listened to this banter all day, as there is no detail too spicy or mundane about Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally—co-authors of the 2018 book The Greatest Love Story Ever Told—that wouldn't be welcome knowledge. Thankfully, their podcast that they started last year, In Bed With Nick & Megan, which they're still recording virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, have kept the intimate tidbits coming even during the stay-at-home era.
But this is how it's always been with these two, a preternaturally made-for-each-other couple who got married 18 months after Mullally first got a glimpse of those golden overalls, and have been each other's best friend, romantic obsession and occasional co-star ever since. And Offerman is celebrating his 50th birthday today, so... if you see sparks over Los Angeles...
"She's often been a hero to me, and so getting to work with her as a peer in any way is like—I feel like Luke Skywalker getting to go into lightsaber battle standing next to Obi-Wan Kenobi," Offerman praised his wife to BuzzFeed upon the release of the 2013 indie film, The Kings of Summer. At the time they were also onstage together in Annapurna.
"And I'm like, 'Alright, me and you. Let's take 'em on.' I have the best seat in the house in our play, to watch Megan, and she's amazing."
Asked how he navigated achieving his level of success some years after his wife achieved hers, Offerman told New York magazine, "One great benefit of our relationship is that Megan has gone through everything a couple of chapters ahead of me, so there's an easy student-master quality to it. When your wife is a legend of comedy, you have to be a huge jackass not to assume the student role."
Eventually they both became grand masters.
Offerman, who's from Illinois, was doing theater in Chicago when he was encouraged to make a move to warmer climes.
"I had a girlfriend at the time who was from Mexico," Offerman remembered his 1997 move in an interview with The Believer in 2012, "and she said, 'No, motherf--ker. I've been in Chicago for five years. We're moving to where it's warm...' Then she flaked out and disappeared. She turned up back in Mexico—I think she is a really successful Mexican actress now—but I already had everything in motion, so I came here by myself."
Before landing the life-changing role of socialite sociopath Karen Walker in Will & Grace in 1998, Mullally—an L.A. native—starred on How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and played Rizzo in Grease on Broadway. She was married to casting director Michael Katcher from 1992 until 1996, and when she met Offerman, she told Conan, she'd never dated a guy like him before.
"I had only ever dated these very skinny, boyish, kind of hairless" fellows, she shared. And then I met Nick and I didn't really know what to make of it all."
For Offerman, though, as he told The Believer, "She was literally the answer to my prayers. I was drinking a lot of bourbon. I was miserable. I was starting to get work, but it wasn't remotely satisfying. It was garbage compared to the theater I was doing. I realized what I needed to do was find a piece of theater that I could sort of reestablish my manhood upon."
"Megan and I, neither of us knew anyone else in the whole production," he continued. "We had both come to it in the same way, where we were like, 'I really want to do something good in theater right now.' It was right after season two of Will & Grace."
Not that her TV star status swayed him in any way. For starters, he didn't have a television and had never seen Will & Grace, and he told the people at his audition, "I don't need some TV chick in the play."
Oh, how wrong he was.
"At the first read-through, Megan was so funny," Offerman said. "And cute. But that didn't hit me yet. We were both staunchly single at the time. I was like, 'Whatever. She's cute.' I was in some kind of denial."
"Gruff man of few words" sounds very much like an Offerman role.
In fact, he went right up to Mullally and told her she was super funny and he thought the play would be really fun. Then he grabbed his tool belt and went back to building the set, which he was also doing for the theater company.
"She thought, I guess they haven't cast this part yet, and they're having the plumber friend read it," Offerman surmised. "Partway through, she thought, The plumber's pretty good. They should cast this guy."
As he remembered those early days to New York magazine, "When I met Megan, we were both very staunchly single. But becoming friends with somebody backstage at a play is one of the greatest friendships ever: It's like making each other laugh in church. But Megan made me work for it."
He called up to ask her to go watch a country band with him, but he left the message on her fax line, so she didn't get it for a week, leaving him to think—while they were rehearsing the play—that she was giving him the brush-off.
"Yeah, but we were getting to know each other and flirting," Mullally told New York.
"Every day I would go home to my best friend," Offerman told GQ in 2017, "and say, 'I can't believe the filthy things this woman said to me today. She talks like us, but she's gorgeous!'" They wouldn't elaborate, but Mullally noted, "I hadn't had real experience with his balls at that point—I was merely speculating."
The big move was finally made, Mullally told New York, when, "Shortly before opening night, we went out to dinner and he held my hand and I had butterflies, and I thought, Oh! A couple of nights later, we kissed. After the previews, we made out. We saw a lot of coyotes at that time, so we took it as some kind of magical symbol."
Now we know what she meant, but Offerman offered Swansonesquely at the time, "We were in tune with Gaia; the forces of lust and nature were flowing strong in us."
His version as told to Parade went like this: "After rehearsal one night we went and drove around. I put my hand on hers on the gear shift in the middle and that was very electric. She gave me a stern talking to about how yes, there might be 'some interest' in me but she wasn't about to 'get involved' with somebody she was doing a play with. So it would have to wait until the play closed. And I said, 'OK, I can handle those terms.'"
However, then they parked in front of an apartment building in Los Feliz and made out for two hours, Beck's "Beautiful Way" on repeat in the CD player.
"Opening night, somebody saw us making out and then the cat was out of the bag," Mullally told New York. "And then we were dating. Then I wouldn't let him come to my apartment. Then I would let him come in, but he had to sleep on the couch. And then he could sleep on the bed but we still hadn't had sex yet. By the time we did, it was long anticipated and well worth the wait. There was a Glen Campbell concert at the Hollywood Bowl that put us in a very lustful mood apparently. We're both big Glen Campbell fans—it's one of the things that united us in eternal love."
"I mean, we're Americans so, like oxygen and food, we love Glen Campbell," Offerman told GQ in 2012. "When we started dating in 2000, we went to the Hollywood Bowl for the Fourth of July to see him. The second to last song was 'Rhinestone Cowboy,' and there were fireworks, both literal and figurative. That was the first time Megan invited me to be her boyfriend."
After that, they got serious pretty quickly and it wasn't just baguettes and fancy cheese Mullally introduced to Offerman.
"I was living in somebody's basement and doing plays and carpentry," he told Parade. "Meanwhile, we're going to the Emmys and the Golden Globes. So, without pointing out that I needed a tux, she said to me, 'Listen, I don't know how to tell you this, but we're gonna have to get you another pair of socks, my friend.'"
He proposed in London in 2002 and they tied the knot in their backyard in front of 20 loved ones who didn't know they'd been invited to a wedding on Sept. 21, 2003, the night before the Emmys.
Meanwhile, Offerman appeared on an episode of Will & Grace in 2001 and started to book more and more TV work on 24, NYPD Blue, Deadwood, George Lopez, etc. He also attended all but a few Will & Grace tapings until it ended (the first time) in 2006 and showed up for shenanigans on her eponymous talk show, which lasted two seasons. Mullally then joined the cast of the dark comedy Children's Hospital, and Offerman appeared on a bunch of episodes of that, too.
His life-changing role, that of desk-chair philosopher and libertarian manly man Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation, came along in 2009.
"We're very supportive of each other," Mullally told New York magazine in 2010. "I don't know when I've been happier than when he got Parks. That was one of the most exciting things that ever happened."
And she was made for the recurring role of Tammy Two, Ron's second of two ex-wives named Tammy, and his erotically explosive foil.
"It was really good therapy, because in any relationship you have love times and you have who-didn't-do-the-dishes times," Offerman told New York magazine about a memorable sex scene the couple shared on the sitcom. "We've worked together before in different ways, but we've never had the opportunity to be a team, and in that episode we were like a two-fisted weapon, battering comedy in the audience's face."
Added Mullally: "We basically destroyed the diner. We ran the gamut of wild, crazy, exhibitionist sex acts and screaming at the other patrons, throwing things, berating the manager and..."
"We actually tore the table off the wall," Offerman admitted. But it was an accident, Mullally said.
She told Backstage in 2012, "I started Will & Grace when I was 39, and Nick started Parks and Rec when he was 39. And he's really on the same trajectory; it's all happening with the same timing. It's so funny to see it all happening again."
Since then they've worked together whenever possible—and when respective projects took them away from each other, they try not to be apart for more than two weeks at a time.
When Mullally was on Broadway in Young Frankenstein, for instance, Offerman set up shop in Red Hook—literally, a wood shop, where he built a canoe and bicycled back and forth each day between Brooklyn and their apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. That sojourn to New York led to Offerman working with Upright Citizens Brigade and joining the cast of the based-on-the-Robert-Durst-story All Good Things with Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst.
In addition to guest-starring in each other's shows (Offerman turned up again on the Will & Grace reboot playing a suitor for both title characters), they've been in a slew of independent movies together, including 2012's Smashed, 2013's The King of Summer (they were going to do a live re-watch on Instagram in May but postponed it out of respect for George Floyd, whose May 25 death led to protests erupting around the country), 2014's Date and Switch, the live variety show Summer of 69: No Apostrophe, which was shown on Epix in 2017; and 2019's Infinity Baby.
"I always hear some couples can't work together, and I don't get that. We have the most fun when we're working together," Mullally told Backstage.
Offerman took it a step further, telling BuzzFeed, "We do things well on our own, but when we combine our powers, we can save the planet."
And there's nothing they love more than to wield those powers from the comfort of home.
"One of the things that made us click, and is very much one of the varieties of glue in our relationship, is that we are simple, boring people," Offerman told Parade. "We cling to each other. We go home and read books and put together jigsaw puzzles and play cards, to protect ourselves from the craziness of this business and all the people trying to hustle. You know, people selling things, like themselves. We don't like to do things that are quote-unquote 'cool' or 'fashionable.'"
Of course, by being their inimitable selves they've become both extremely cool, with a style all their own. At one point they had sworn off social media and shared an email address, which nowadays would have made them exponentially cooler, but they eventually relented and are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (with separate Mr. and Mrs. accounts).
"It occurred to me that my reticence to know anything about Facebook and Twitter was not proper etiquette," Offerman told The Believer, reminiscing about how he used to ask his buddies with the most followers, like Conan O'Brien, to promote his latest projects on their accounts.
He and Mullally continue to share just about everything else, though, including the utmost admiration for each other, a seemingly insatiable sex drive and an adorably off-kilter sense of humor. Conan may have been joking when he informed the couple that he considers them to be one person, he wasn't too far off.
Talking to GQ, the couple speculated that being a family of just two (not including their beloved dogs) is part of the reason why they're such a cohesive unit.
"I never had a burning desire to have children," Mullally explained. "But then I met Nick, and I thought 'This is the only person I'd do this with.' So we tried, but I was a little long in the tooth for that sort of thing. But we didn't turn it into a soap opera. We tried for about a year or so, and it didn't happen, and took that to mean it wasn't meant to be."
"Our attempts may not have been great because we still haven't had full-on sex," Offerman joked.
Considering they conducted that interview via Skype from bed, claiming right off the bat to be freshly "post- and pre-coital," and Mullally's main piece of advice for a successful marriage was "'f--k,'" that joke wasn't his best work.
"That's one thing that I like about Nick," Mullally said on Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend in 2018, "is that he's a really nice guy, but he's also sort of like a demonic serial killer, so there's both sides of that. If somebody's too nice all the time, you just want to punch them in the face."
Offerman didn't seem fazed by that comparison whatsoever.