Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman on Why They Wrote a Book Together, Their Love for Jigsaw Puzzles & the Key to a Successful Relationship

By J.P. Anderson, photography by Sheryl Nields | September 26, 2018 | People Feature

Comedy power couple and Chicago stage veterans Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman dish on their pretty-much-perfect marriage in The Greatest Love Story Ever Told.

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On Nick: Nina turtleneck, $295, by Officine Générale at Saks Fifth Avenue; Mayer pants, $285, by Theory at Bloomingdale’s; black faux suede tassel loafers, $80, at Topman. On Megan: Ribbed rose mock-neck sweater, $595, by Rosie Assoulin at Neapolitan Collection, Winnetka; Mario pants, $395, at alcltd.com; globe pinky ring, $295, at jenniferfisher.com; small wire princess diamond earrings, $350, by Zoe Chicco at Saks Fifth Avenue; Sawyer loafers, $475, at Stuart Weitzman.

From sex in the Sistine Chapel to family, fashion and life as a Hollywood couple (plus jigsaw puzzles!), no topic is taboo in The Greatest Love Story Ever Told ($28, Dutton), Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman’s hilarious narrative of their nearly 20-year relationship. Preparing for the book’s release Oct. 2, the duo caught up with Michigan Avenue—Nick from his L.A. woodshop, Megan from a taping of Will & Grace—in an exclusive conversation about sharing their story, their mutual passion for Chicago and the secrets to a successful relationship.

So what inspired you to share your story?
Megan Mullally: Nick has written a few books and been successful—he’s a good writer. And it seems like people fancy our relationship; I posted a picture of Nick and me on social media at some point and my phone blew up, and it kept happening. And then at a certain point with Nick’s batting average as an author, I said, ‘Maybe it’d be a good idea to write a book together.’ At first, I don’t think Nick was super-duper excited about the idea. But then he came around.
Nick Offerman: And here we are. MM: I performed some of my famous tricks in the boudoir.

Why do you think people fancy your relationship?
NO:
I’ll tell you why. It’s because we have performed this superhuman act for a married couple in Hollywood of remaining married. You will be astonished at our banal longevity.

MM: Also because we don’t shy away from [things]—there are so many people in Hollywood who won’t even tell you if they’re single or in a relationship. They won’t say anything to the press about their personal lives. Not one tidbit. And we’re so open about everything that people are like, ‘How could you actually be telling us stuff about your relationship?’ At the same time, we can talk about ourselves and our relationship all day long, and I still feel like it’s completely private—no one will ever know exactly what it’s like. We feel like we’re regular people, so it's fine to talk about it because it’s boring.

But you’re also revealing some very private things. Was it a challenge to say, ‘OK, how much are we actually going to share?’
MM:
We never discussed it. We sat down with Nick’s phone and put on the recorder and started talking. We had a topic—but I wouldn’t tell Nick in advance which topic it was going to be, because he’s going to frontload—and so I’d say the topic is families or whatever, and we would start having a conversation. We were always lying in bed when we did it—but not in our own bed, we were always out on the road—and I would close my eyes to focus on what Nick was saying. But things come up. I’ve never talked publicly about my father, but if we’re going to do a chapter on families, that has to get discussed. But it wasn’t something that we went into in advance, thinking, OK, we’ll talk about A, B and
C, but not D.
NO: I’m going to talk about a lot of D in the next book.
MM: Hey-O! Which he’s doing with his new male companions.

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On Nick: Sunset pocket shirt, $69, at Levi’s; jeans and shoes, his own. On Megan: Traveler jumpsuit, $428, at jbrandjeans.com; Elyse platform loafers, $1,195, by Stella McCartney at Nordstrom; small wire princess diamond earrings, $350, by Zoe Chicco at Saks Fifth Avenue; Trinity ring, price upon request, by Cartier at beladora.com; gold ring, her own.

There’s a lot of humor in the book, but it’s also a genuine love story. Was there any intention to put something about love or positivity in the universe when there’s so much negativity in the world right now?
NO: It’s nothing cognitive; that’s just our general stance and our reaction to the negativity storm we’re suffering these days. I feel like we’ve begun to completely eschew popular culture, like TV and film, that has violence or is on the darker side of life and instead focus on loving one another and remembering the positivity that good values can bring to all of our lives.

Swinging the conversation toward Chicago, talk about what influence the city has had on you.
MM:
Oh, man. We both love Chicago. I’m partial to Los Angeles because I’ve lived here since 1985, but boy, Chicago runs a close second. I went to Northwestern for two years and then lived in the city for six years, and I had the best time there.

NO: I agree with my bride. Chicago is the ultimate training ground in which to cut your teeth in the theater arts. Because if you’re committed to performing theater in Chicago, you don’t have the ulterior motive of Broadway or Hollywood. It means you truly want to present the medicine of some earnest theater to an audience.

If you were still in Chicago, what would you be doing?
NO:
When I left for L.A., I had started my own small scenery shop, so the choice was to keep chasing acting jobs to the coast or stay in Chicago, build scenery and hopefully get to play Nick Bottom every seven years at one of the larger barns in town.

MM: I’m sure I’d have a band and be playing all the great clubs there too. As a matter of fact, I do have a band right now, and we’re gonna be playing in Chicago next spring or summer. TBD.
NO: You don’t say. That sounds cool. Do you guys have a website?
MM: You’re our roadie, remember? We tour a lot and you drive the car?
NO: I’m trying to get you to plug your band.
MM: Oh, OK. [laughs] The band is called Nancy and Beth, and our website is nancyandbeth.com, and we have three, soon to be four, music videos that I’ve directed. My band partner is Stephanie Hunt, and Nick and I just did Carpool Karaoke last night, and she flew in from Austin to do a thing with us for it, so that was cool. We’re signing with a label, Thirty Tigers, and everything’s coming up roses. It’s the coolest band—every song is completely choreographed, and Stephanie and I stay in harmony and then we have a five-piece behind us. It’s my favorite thing in the world except for Nick.

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Chambers jacket, $645, by Theory at Bloomingdale’s; cotton poplin long-sleeved shirt, $185, at Vince; silk narrow tie, price upon request, at jason-ashley.com; shorts, his own.

When you get back to Chicago, are there any favorite places you like to visit?
NO:
A handful of my Defiant Theatre colleagues are still working in town, so we love to go see anything our friend Joe Faust is appearing in, and also anything A Red Orchid is putting on. Megan and I both talk about how when we lived in Chicago, we were young and much more broke than we are now. So we’re learning a whole new side of Chicago— the side where you have money to spend on a complete sandwich. I could tell you where the cheapest beer was in the ’90s, and that is a happy location in some ways. But now we can find the best place to sit with a cup of coffee and look at the lake.

MM: Seriously. It’s just better all around.
NO: Also, we’re both really big fans of the Art Institute.
MM: I used to go there every week by myself with a notebook and sit in front of paintings and take notes. So pretentious. But that’s what you do when you’re in your early 20s. I mean, why not? What else is there? NO: It’s such an incredible collection. I was even more of an ignorant farm boy when I lived there than I am now. But I saw my first Max Ernst there and said, ‘Oh, I’m in a production of Ubu Roi.’ He drew the first sketches of the characters’ costumes. Megan is much more prone to comprehend and appreciate the actual art there, and I will stick with it for a time, but then I’ll wander out the front door and down the street to The Berghoff restaurant where I will order two bratwursts. But the ultimate destination for any activity is, of course, Wrigley Field.
MM: One hundred percent.
NO: Until you’ve made love just north of second base, you haven’t made love at all. You might as well be in the American League.
MM: Years ago when I was doing theater in Chicago, I got to sing the national anthem there a couple of times. I was in a four-part harmony group called Colossal Nerve, and we sang there once, and then I also sang there with the cast of a musical I was doing. That was pretty cool.
NO: Were you a member of Colossal Nerve?

MM: Yes, I was.
NO: I’ve never heard that before. That’s amazing.
MM: I sang all the melody, so nothing much has changed I guess. NO: If it ain’t broke...

For both of you, creativity outside of your main gigs has been a big thing. Why is it important for you both to exercise those kinds of muscles?
MM: It’s just something we’re driven to do, a form of self-expression and these other areas of creativity we have proclivities for.
NO: I agree—it’s more of a compulsion. We’re lucky enough to be able to afford to not have to work two jobs, so when we’re off, Megan lives her dream by performing with her band, and I live my dream by turning oak boards into sawdust.

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Ribbed rose mock-neck sweater, $595, by Rosie Assoulin at Neapolitan Collection, Winnetka; cropped pants with contrasting stripe, $795, at alexandermcqueen.com; Sawyer loafers, $475, at Stuart Weitzman.

You’ve both had major success but have also managed to avoid the paparazzi scene. How do you maintain balance in that world of celebrity?
MM:
Because we don’t believe it exists. That’s my short answer. I think Hollywood is a made-up construct that’s been very convenient for selling any number of things, from movie tickets to magazines to clothing to everything else, and I don’t think either one of us really believes in it. So, consequently, nobody bothers with us because it takes two to tango with that kind of thing. Just like anything else, it takes two, and it’s hard to create something in a vacuum. If we were seeking that out, you’d be seeing us on the cover of some [crappy] tabloid every week. But we just don’t. It doesn’t register with us. What am I missing?
NO: And we keep our pants on in public.
MM: Yeah, I wear clothing that covers most of my genitalia and naughty bits, and Nick usually does too. He’s had his moments.

One of the things you talk about in the book is your passion for jigsaw puzzles—
MM: I’m doing one right now, as we’re talking! Nick, I’ve taken the rainbow puzzle apart for, now it’s the third time, and I’m doing it again.
NO: Honey, we talked about repeat puzzles. Listen, I’m going to get in my car and come home, and I want you to—please do not do the border without me.

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On Nick: Nina turtleneck, $295, by Officine Générale at Saks Fifth Avenue; Mayer pants, $285, by Theory at Bloomingdale’s; black faux suede tassel loafers, $80, at Topman. On Megan: Ribbed rose mock-neck sweater, $595, by Rosie Assoulin at Neapolitan Collection, Winnetka; Mario pants, $395, at alcltd.com; globe pinky ring, $295, at jenniferfisher.com; small wire princess diamond earrings, $350, by Zoe Chicco at Saks Fifth Avenue; Sawyer loafers, $475, at Stuart Weitzman.

What is it about a jigsaw puzzle that scratches that itch for you?
MM: It’s so relaxing and satisfying, and it allows me to focus better than if I weren’t doing a jigsaw puzzle. You’d think I would be distracted by the puzzle as we’re talking, but in fact, the reverse is true.
NO: Especially in this age of information, at any given moment you have myriad choices of distraction. Just in your smartphone alone. So the puzzle allows you to shut off all those distractions in the most simple way. All of your acumen is required to focus on the simplicity of the puzzle. You cannot look at social media, you can’t play a video game, etc.

What’s the secret to a successful relationship?
MM: For Nick and me, we just like each other in addition to loving each other. Because that’s two separate things. He’s funny, and I like listening to what he has to say— and I’m sure you can look back on relationships where that was not the case and the person was driving you crazy. Nick doesn’t drive me crazy—maybe every once in a while, but only for, like, a second.
NO: I would just add fidelity—and not just in the simple definition of fidelity in a marriage, but fidelity in the more round sense of paying attention to and maintaining your marriage, like you do a garden. It always will require weeding. As long as you want beautiful produce, you have to water and tend to your plants, and with that sensibility, you stand the best chance of a lifelong supply of delicious vegetables.

Categories: People Feature

STYLED BY ERICA CLOUD. DIGITAL TECH: CASEY CUNNEEN. PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANTS: JOHN MIMS AND PAUL RAE. Hair by John Ruggiero at The Wall Group using Bumble and bumble. Makeup by Matthew VanLeeuwen at Starworks Group

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