Ben Schwartz Spilled The Tea On His "Parks And Rec" Days And It's Too Good To Be True
Ben Schwartz reminisces about hilarious Parks & Recreation moments, life on the House of Lies set, and so much more!
Ben Schwartz has made quite a name for himself in Hollywood and the best news is, he's just getting started! And if you somehow don't recognize his face, I can almost guarantee you've heard his voice. From his notable appearance as the cocky-yet-lovable Jean-Ralphio on Parks and Recreation to the numerous voiceover roles he's supplied in various animated series, Ben continues to make our stomachs hurt from laughter.
With his new movie Blue Iguana hitting theaters tomorrow and a live-action version of Sonic the Hedgehog make its debut next fall, Ben thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane to answer some questions about some of his favorite projects.
What traits do you and Jean-Ralphio have in common?
Was Jean-Ralphio’s persona written into the Parks & Recreation script or did you come up with the character yourself?
BS: Jean-Ralphio was created I believe either by Katie Dippold or Harris Wittels. I think. I had a meeting with Mike Schur at the very beginning and he explained what the universe was like. They were casting Amy Poehler’s love interest at the time which was Louis C.K., which was a cop then. I didn’t get that role, but they said, "Hey we’re going to find something for you later on." I believe people were auditioning for the role. I got a call saying, "Do you wanna do this?" And it was just one scene. When I was doing the run-through before we filmed it, Mike Schur came down and was like, "You’ll be coming back." And that was how that all started.
Were most of your scenes with Jenny Slate improvised?
Was there a deleted Jean-Ralphio scene that you wish they kept in the show?
BS: Yes! There’s a couple that I loved very much. There was one when I went to one of those town meetings and I was saying something into the microphone and I forgot what my character said. But I leave and Chris Pratt is in the back row, so instead of leaving, I tried to exit through the back row. I stopped at Chris and had such trouble getting over him — like I pretended I had such trouble — it was such an ordeal. I put every part of my body all over him and slowly got around him. Then I forgot something and had to turn around and go the other way. I just did it to truly make him laugh.
There’s one where I sing in Adam Scott’s ear. I come in so hard – again just to see if he would laugh — that he literally falls to the ground. Those were the most fun. I loved that.
If you could switch places with any other character on that show, who would it be and why?
Which Jean-Ralphio line do fans recite to you the most?
BS: “You’re the worst." I get that a ton. “I got run over by a Lexus.” Or anything I sing.
Which one of your Parks & Rec costars made you break character the most?
Which comedians do you look up to?
BS: He’s not even a comedian, but I loved this guy named Bill Watterson who wrote Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin and Hobbes played such a big part in me loving comedy and me just learning how to write as a kid. I wasn’t a great reader — I didn’t love reading, but I loved Calvin and Hobbes so much! So, Calvin and Hobbes was huge for me growing up, as well as The Simpsons. That was enormous for me. Those were the things I really clung onto and really got my comedic style from in the beginning.
And then when I started to perform improv, it was people like Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, Matt Besser, Matt Walsh [the founding four members of the Upright Citizens Brigade]. Watching people like Jack McBrayer, Tina Fey, and Rob Riggle perform improv — all those improvisers are just another level good.
What’s your favorite Jean-Ralphio line?
What is your favorite BTS moment from House of Lies?
BS: We played a ton of cards in between. The thing about House of Lies, the four of us just got so close. It was so fun. I just miss hanging out with those guys. That’s like family. For Parks, I was a guest star. I was probably in like 20 or so episodes, but House of Lies I was there for every episode and so many of the scenes. You really just become family. I’m sure everybody says that. That’s the most generic answer ever, but I miss those guys. I don’t know if there’s a particular scene, but just the idea of being around them, playing with them, and stuff like that.
What’s something that you learned about Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell that might surprise fans?
Would you ever do another episode of Bob’s Burgers?
BS: Yes, love Bob’s Burgers! I love voiceover stuff. I thought Bob’s Burgers was so fun. I think that show is so good. I would do anything. Any time they want me back, I’ll do it. Rick & Morty is the only one I never got the opportunity to do. I would love to do anything Rick & Morty.
How did you get the role of Sonic the Hedgehog?
Did you play Sonic as a kid?
BS: I did! I had Super Nintendo and then my best friend growing up had Sonic, so we would go over his house every day. I would play QuackShot, Altered Beast, Sonic, Sonic 2, then freakin’ Knuckles showed up…I played them all and beat them all. Now I have Sonic Mania. So for someone who grew up playing that game it was really exciting.
I think it makes for such a good character. They’ve written such a good movie and I really hope people like it. And Jim Carrey’s in it. He’s like an idol.