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The Small Screen: Patricia Clarkson Awesomely Cast As Ron Swanson's First Ex-Wife In 'Parks & Rec'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist July 29, 2011 at 1:17AM

To fill in for those of you who haven't watched "Parks and Recreation" (and really, you're running out of excuses at this point -- we did call it the best thing on television earlier in the year), the show's break-out character is Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), the libertarian, meat-loving head of the titular government department in Pawnee, Indiana. The character has two ex-wives, both named Tammy (also the name of his mother), but, to date, we've only met the second, a fearsome librarian played by Offerman's real life spouse Megan Mullally, whose presence has caused some of the show's greatest moments to date.
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To fill in for those of you who haven't watched "Parks and Recreation" (and really, you're running out of excuses at this point -- we did call it the best thing on television earlier in the year), the show's break-out character is Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), the libertarian, meat-loving head of the titular government department in Pawnee, Indiana. The character has two ex-wives, both named Tammy (also the name of his mother), but, to date, we've only met the second, a fearsome librarian played by Offerman's real life spouse Megan Mullally, whose presence has caused some of the show's greatest moments to date.

At the end of the last season, however, Tammy One was said to have arrived back in town, causing Tammy Two to scurry away in terror, and the fear of god to be put into Mr. Swanson, and speculation has been rife ever since as to who could possibly embody her. Our answer has now arrived, and once more, the creative team behind the show have nailed it: TV Line, via Vulture, reveal that the great Patricia Clarkson has been cast in the role.

Clarkson is best known for her brilliant dramatic turns over the years, picking up an Oscar nomination for "Pieces of April" a few years back, but she's spread her comic wings in the last couple of years, first as the object of Andy Samberg's affections in SNL's "Mother Lover," and then with scene-stealing performances in Will Gluck's comedies "Easy A" and "Friends With Benefits." She's also no stranger to TV, with notable appearances on "Frasier," "Murder One," and "Six Feet Under," among others.

Showrunner Michael Schur recently confessed, in an excellent, extensive AV Club interview about the last season, of the difficulty of casting Tammy One saying, "She was married to Ron Swanson, which suggests a very particular kind of lady. She scares Megan Mullally to death. And her reappearance into his world causes him to blanch and get very, very scared. So there are certain actresses that that just kind of rules out. A lot of women, it kind of rules out, because they’re just not that kind of person. And that says nothing about their acting ability or whatever; it’s just a very specific kind of person... I think, like, if Rosalind Russell were still around, I think she’d be a good choice based on "His Girl Friday". Bette Davis would have been good. Anybody who was very powerful onscreen and very no-nonsense."

But to be honest, we can't imagine anyone better suited to the part than Clarkson, and can't wait to see what she does on the show. She's signed on for two episodes at present, the first coming in the show's fourth season premiere, which should take place in the early fall on NBC.

This article is related to: Actresses, Patricia Clarkson, Parks and Recreation


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