"He's super sexy, like right now," Megan Mullally said, watching her husband and co-star, Nick Offerman, comb his hair into an unruly mess and apply dark makeup resembling dirt to his hands and feet. Without batting an eye, Offerman nodded and continued to tease his hair into tangles.
Mullally laughed after commenting on Offerman's unkempt appearance, but her affection for him was evident as the two chatted in their dressing room at the Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row. The comedic duo are starring in The New Group's production of Sharr White's Annapurna, a dramatic two-hander about a divorced couple who, after reuniting under strenuous circumstances, confront the ghosts of their past.
The reprise of the performances they gave at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, is not the first time Mullally and Offerman have collaborated. Offerman guest-starred — and locked lips — with Mullally on "Will and Grace," and Mullally plays ex-wife to Offerman's Ron Swanson on "Parks and Recreation." The husband-and-wife team have also appeared on shared the stage or screen on "The Megan Mullally Show," "Children's Hospital," "Smashed," "Somebody Up There Likes Me," "The Kings of Summer" and "Bob's Burgers."
In Annapurna, Mullally plays Emma, the estranged ex-wife of Offerman's Ulysses, who unexpectedly appears at his Colorado mobile home. While the two characters share an emotionally charged history, Mullally said that creating their backstory was not difficult. "We didn't really talk about it very much," she said. "Every time we've ever run the show, not like a fast line through, but every time we run the show, I feel like we've found things, we've come to some kind of realiziation. I couldn't even tell you what; maybe right after a show I could. It's the only play I've ever really done that just keeps unfolding every time you do it. Every time we do it, I feel like, 'Oh, there's that, too. Interesting.'"
|Photo by Monique Carboni|
While the duo are known for their comedic skills, Annapurna, which Offerman described as containing "uncannily great, poignantly specific parts for both of us" provides an opportunity for them to display their dramatic talents.
"It's part of the alchemy that makes it such an effective piece for the two of us," Offerman said. "Because the audience generally comes in thinking it must be funny because we've both been on comedies. It even starts out with some moments of humor. I think that's comforting to the audience, which they learn to their detriment is a misdirect, because it gets very un-funny."
Mullally and Offerman met in 2000 when acting in a play together in Chicago; they married secretly in 2003. Their relationship, which Offerman has described as being one of student and teacher, has followed rising success in both of their paths.
"Megan is eleven and a half years older than me, and she sort of has gone through a lot of major milestones in show business ahead of me," Offerman said. "And so it's just natural since we get along that when we met, she was two seasons into 'Will and Grace,' and I was auditioning for pilots and films, so it made sense that she would give me a lot of advice. Plus I've never seen a more perfectionist, hard-working artist, so there's a lot of learning by example as well. She sets a very high bar for work ethic, which did not go unnoticed."
The admiration was echoed by Mullally, who added, "Nick has a great work ethic as well. And I feel like we never stop. We're always working on something, always exercising our creativity, which is lucky. Some of it is self-generated. It doesn't mean that we're constantly gainfully employed. It just means that when we're not gainfully employed, we find something else to do on our own. Nick has his woodshop and I have my band, Nancy and Beth. We keep pretty busy."
|Photo by Monique Carboni|
When their mutual respect and support for each other was commented on, both Mullally and Offerman expressed surprise that a happy marriage would warrant commentary at all.
"It's weird to hear that question," Offerman said. "To be asked that makes us aware that we're lucky, I guess, that we get along so well. My response is always like, 'Well, what the hell's the matter with everybody else?' Why are you in a marriage with somebody that you don't want to put on a pedestal and champion?"
"We don't really think about it. It's just a natural thing because we really do admire each other and we really like each other," Mullally added. "I'm a lucky woman because Nick is very romantic and treats me like a queen and really takes care of me and dotes on me in a way that I don't know a lot of men do. I always feel like Nick is so interesting to me — to talk to and I like what he has to say, and I think he's funny. He's just this guy I really like."
The two share an uncomplicated approach to their work, which they claim they never bring home with them; instead, they said they focus on where to eat dinner after the show, and the two are even in synch regarding their after-work meals.
"We're having a little bit of a moment at Schnippers. It's insanity. There's going to be a little Schnippers happening tonight," Mullally said. "I've gone straight for the burgers and fries."
Offerman added solemnly, "The great simplicity."
Annapurna runs through June 1 at the Acorn Theatre. Visit thenewgroup.org for tickets and more information.
(Carey Purcell is the Features Editor of Playbill.com. Her work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com. Follow her on Twitter @PlaybillCarey.)