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Offerman was born in Joliet, Illinois, and grew up in Minooka, Illinois. He is the son of Cathy (née Roberts), a nurse, and Ric Offerman, who taught social studies at a junior high school in nearby Channahon. Offerman was raised Catholic and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in 1993. That year, he and a group of fellow students co-founded the Defiant Theatre, a Chicago-based theatre company.
Offerman lived in Chicago in the mid-1990s, where he participated with theatre companies such as Steppenwolf, Goodman, and Wisdom Bridge. At Steppenwolf, he also worked as a fight choreographer and master carpenter. During this time, Offerman became acquainted with Amy Poehler, who was heavily involved with the Chicago improv comedy scene.
In 2003, he married Will & Grace actress Megan Mullally and has also appeared on her talk show, The Megan Mullally Show. At the same time, he began appearing on television: as a plumber on Will & Grace during its fourth season's Thanksgiving episode, on The King of Queens as a hobo, in three episodes of 24, and in an episode of The West Wing. Prior to Parks and Recreation, his most prominent role was as factory worker and Benny-Lopez-love-interest Randy McGee on George Lopez. He appeared twice on Gilmore Girls, in 2003's The Festival of Living Art" and 2005's "Always a Godmother, Never a God". Offerman played would-be assassin of Wild Bill Hickok, Tom Mason, in an early episode of the HBO series Deadwood and in the third-season episode of Monk "Mr. Monk and the Election" as a helper for the campaign of Natalie Teeger. In 2007, Offerman co-starred in the Comedy Central series American Body Shop.
In 2009, Office producers Michael Schur and Greg Daniels offered Offerman a regular supporting role in their NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation: that of Ron Swanson, the deadpan, government-hating head of a government parks department and therefore boss of Amy Poehler's character Leslie Knope. Slate magazine declared Offerman "Parks and Recreation's secret weapon," and said he regularly stole scenes and "has a gift for understated physical comedy." The role weaves antagonism and political philosophy with humanity, while the intense libertarian philosophy the character lives out is often played off against the equally intense liberalism and "do-gooder" mentality of Poehler's character, Leslie Knope. Offerman has said that supporting parts such as that of Parks and Recreation are his ideal roles, and that he draws particular inspiration from Reverend Jim Ignatowski, the character played by Christopher Lloyd in the sitcom Taxi.
Offerman has also been featured in the Adult Swim series Childrens Hospital with Rob Corddry and Rob Huebel. He is the voice of Axe Cop in the animated series of the same name, premiered on July 27, 2013. In the same year, Offerman portrayed Johnny Cool in the "Boston" episode of Derek Waters' Drunk History on Comedy Central.
Offerman has appeared in films such as November (2004), Cursed (2005), Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005), Sin City (2005), The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009), and The Kings of Summer (2013). He also appeared in the 2006 film Wristcutters: A Love Story as a cop who attempts to arrest Shannyn Sossamon's character, Mikal. 2012 saw him in two film roles, as 21 Jump Street's Deputy Chief Hardy and in Casa de Mi Padre as DEA Agent Parker. Additionally, he starred and produced an independent film, Somebody Up There Likes Me (2012), shot in Austin, Texas. He appeared in the 2013 comedy We're the Millers, which starred Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston. He voiced Metalbeard in The Lego Movie. Offerman conceived of and starred in punk band FIDLAR's 2013 video for their song "Cocaine". Offerman also played an alcoholic college guidance counselor in Believe Me (2014).
Offerman has been married to actress Megan Mullally since September 20, 2003. They met while acting in The Berlin Circle, a play produced by the Evidence Room Theatre Company, and married after dating for eighteen months. Mullally has a recurring role on Parks and Recreation as Ron Swanson's second ex-wife, Tammy. The couple have also appeared together on film: for example, both actors played roles in The Kings of Summer.
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