8 Things You Didn’t Know about the Cast of PARKS AND RECREATION

After six years, everyone’s favorite local government employees from Pawnee, Indiana, will be saying farewell in their seventh and final season of Parks and Recreation, beginning tonight. The final season will consist of 13 episodes on NBC. Yet, after watching these characters for so many years, there may still be some facts even the most die-hard fan does not know. Test your knowledge with some behind-the-scenes facts, including highlights from Amy Poehler’s first book, Yes Please.

Rashida Jones is a “Jill”-of-all trades in the entertainment industry.

Rashida Jones is widely known for her acting skills as sweet Ann Perkins in Parks and unintentional “home-wrecker” in The Office as Jim Halpert’s girlfriend Karen Filippelli. But Jones has also created a comic book series, written screen plays, and been heavily involved in the music industry.  Jones was a back-up singer for Maroon 5, was the guest vocalist for the song “Starry Night” on the Tupac Shakur Tribute album, “The Rose that Grew from Concrete,” and she directed the music video for Sara Bareilles’ “Brave.”

Nick Offerman has a thing for froufrou dogs, and had wild hairstyles in the 90s.

If you’ve read Nick Offerman’s book, Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living, you know that he embodies the persona of “Ron Swanson” in his everyday life. But when Amy Poehler first met Offerman at a production of A Clockwork Orange in Chicago in 1997, she described him as “terrifying” with a beard that was dyed bright orange with his hair shaped into two devil horns. Offerman is also crazy for his two poodles and is quite giggly on set. Ron Swanson would not approve.

Aubrey Plaza has a secret shrine in her house, and is quite similar to her character April Ludgate in real life.

Aubrey Plaza got her start as a page for NBC, and in April Ludgate fashion, reportedly made up facts during her studio tours. In her book, Poehler says when Plaza came to meet her at the airport in Los Angeles, Plaza dressed up as a space alien to cheer her up because Poehler was sad about her divorce from Will Arnett. Plaza also has a shrine to Judy Garland in her house.

Chris Pratt wasn’t originally intended to be a permanent character on Parks.

The Andy Dwyer character was only supposed to be on the show for six episodes, but thankfully, they let him hang around–from living in the pit, to being a shoe shiner and wanna-be cop, to becoming a rock star (for children’s birthday parties). Pratt also actually plays guitar and helped write his band Mouse Rat’s songs for the show.

Retta Sirleaf’s aunt is the president of Liberia.

We knew Sirleaf’s quick-witted, headstrong diva character Donna had famous celebrities for family members in the show (Ginuwine is her cousin), but Sirleaf’s aunt is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the current president of Liberia.  Sirleaf was born Marietta Sirleaf to immigrant parents from Liberia and grew up in New Jersey.

Adam Scott likes to drive barefoot, always has fresh breath, and auditioned for the role of Jim Halpert on The Office.

Scott is originally from Santa Cruz, and Poehler said that because of this, he insists it’s totally normal and acceptable behavior to drive barefoot. Rainn Wilson (The Office) posted the show’s original audition list, which included Adam Scott auditioning for Jim, as well as Seth Rogen auditioning for the role of Dwight. According to Poehler, Scott also always had fresh breath for kissing scenes.

Amy Poehler was pregnant during the entire first season, and the second half of the second season.

For the first season of Parks, the cast shot six episodes in a row since it would be difficult to hide a pregnancy while shooting in the single-camera documentary style. Poehler also claimed that Parks was the only show in history to give up the coveted post-Super Bowl slot because of the timing of her pregnancy. After an early pick-up of the third season of the show, the cast had to plow through several episodes of the third season directly after filming the second season in order to have material ready while Poehler was out.

The character of Leslie Knope could have been called Leslie Pfrench, Leslie Knurine or Leslie Knotonmywatch.

The original brainstorm list of character names for Leslie Knope from Michael Schur and Greg Daniels, writers and producers of Parks, included more than 100 different variations of Leslie Knope. Though Leslie Knotonmywatch would have been fitting for the character’s personality, thankfully they went with Leslie Knope.

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