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Q&A: 'Parks and Recreation's' Amy Poehler

She admits she's 'a lot more cynical' than Leslie Knope, her character on the TV series.

June 09, 2010|By Glenn Whipp, Special to the Los Angeles Times

After a bumpy beginning, the Amy Poehler ensemble comedy "Parks and Recreation" has settled into a nice groove in its first full season, thanks to its deep bench of supporting characters and Poehler's inspired work as bubbly bureaucrat Leslie Knope.

Thirty episodes into its run, Poehler has steered Leslie well beyond comparisons to "The Office" bumbler Michael Scott. Leslie's enthusiasm might not always pay dividends, but she's determined to keep loving her job, even when it offers little evidence that it's deserving of her affections.

We checked in with Poehler, a two-time Emmy nominee for her work on "Saturday Night Live," to chat about the show's growth and how she might alter the Emmys if she had the chance.

You've been nominated twice. Did you ever think about what you might say if you made it to the podium?

You know what people don't do enough of in their speeches? Visuals. I'd just use a lot of visual aids and take the time to introduce people to my photography.

Any suggestions for this year's Emmys show?

Doesn't every awards show need more "Twilight"? That would be awesome if they could somehow say, "And the Emmy goes to 'Twilight.'" As we speak, the person who's going to play Bella in the TV version of "Twilight" is probably being born. Let's track her down and put her on the show!

Do you think it took a little time for "Parks" to find its footing?

It was a natural progression. I'm just happy we got a chance to figure things out while we were on the air. Our Season 1 was like a seasonette or an amuse-bouche, for you foodies. We kept developing the characters and here we are.

How has Leslie changed?

When we picked up with her, she was obsessed with this guy and couldn't let go. But that was just one aspect of Leslie. The show was never going to be about this lady who's boy-crazy and deluded when it comes to relationships.

She's deluded in many other ways as well.

Right! But she's not simplistic. It's an interesting thing to play somebody who believes change can happen without being stupid. Personally, I'm a lot more cynical than that.

Whenever I believe change can happen, I end up feeling stupid.

When we were first talking about the show, Obama was close to being elected and there was this sense of "yes we can." I thought Leslie would have been inspired by the idea of being active in that. But then you see the reality of how hard it is to change things in government.

Will there be a point where Leslie loses faith?

There's some interesting stuff coming up in Season 3. She's going from these big dreams to triage. "Oh, my God, the government is going to be shut down. Forget my park! I need to keep my job!" She's turned a little sour, which has been fun to play.

Anything else about Leslie that you'd like to share?

I haven't told anyone and the writers haven't written anything for it, but I've decided Leslie can time travel.

Where does she go?

Back to the front lines of the suffragette movement. And that time last week when she had really good waffles.

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