Chris Pratt and Aubrey Plaza were recently spotted making out on the floor of the National Museum of American History.
As I wrote in this report for Saturday’s Style section, it was purely for show, specifically for their show, “Parks and Recreation.” Members of the “Parks and Rec” crew — including Pratt, Plaza, Amy Poehler, Adam Scott and executive producer Mike Schur — were in town last Thursday and Friday, ping-ponging between national monuments to shoot scenes for an upcoming season five episode titled “Ms. Knope Goes to Washington.”
I spent several hours on-set last Friday, watching Pratt crawl around on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Poehler bask in the pointy glory of the Washington Monument and, yes, watching Pratt and Plaza (in character, of course) go at it in front of a historically significant steam train.
Here what that experience revealed.
Some important show details:
As Pawnee loyalists recall, the “Parks and Rec” season four finale revealed that — spoiler alert — Leslie Knope (Poehler) had been elected to the Pawnee City Council, while boyfriend Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) was offered a short-term job working in Washington on a congressional campaign.
As Schur explained Friday, Ben does indeed head to D.C., bringing April Ludgate (Plaza) — a young woman with a bad attitude who gets lots of job opportunities, making her a beacon of hope to the unemployed — as a campaign assistant. In “Ms. Knope Goes to Washington,” both Leslie and Andy Dwyer (Pratt) come to the nation’s capital to visit their significant others.
While the majority of the footage shot in Washington — at locations that included the U.S. Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, the Hay-Adams hotel, the White House and the American History museum — will be used in that second season-five episode, airing Sept. 27, Schur confirmed that D.C.-based scenes will be sprinkled into other episodes. Ben will remain in Washington for five episodes of the season, Schur said.
The future of Ben and Leslie:
No one from “Parks and Rec” specifically said the relationship is in “jeopardy.” And the scenes I witnessed suggest they remain very much in love, if a little bummed about the distance. But both Schur and Scott said a few things that suggest Pawnee’s cutest couple may eventually have a big decision to make.
Schur said that after becoming a councilwoman, Knope will have to consider whether she wants to “take it to the next levelof American politics.”
As for Ben, Scott says: “I think that this is his lifelong dream, to be here [in D.C.] doing what he’s doing. So I think that if anything is going to pull him away from Pawnee, this would be it. Which would potentially be very sad.”
The scene on set:
Some fans lingered around the perimeter of the “Parks and Rec” shooting locations, but most seemed content to snap cell phone photos from a distance. A few joggers and oblivious tourists wandered into a few shots, although — in a jarring demonstration of how reality and Hollywood fiction can easily become blurry — it was sometimes hard to distinguish the real tourists from the extras dressed up as tourists.
And then there were those who did not grasp the magnitude of having Knope in their midst.
“Is this van going where Amy is going?” a “Parks and Rec” crew member asked our driver before we headed from the Lincoln Memorial to the Museum of American History.
“Is Amy the star?” the driver asked.
Yes, sir. She is.
Chris Pratt is super-excited about being a dad.
During that van ride, Pratt and I had a long conversation about parenthood; he and wife Anna Faris are expecting their first child, a boy, in October.
“She’s doing so great and just impressing me every day with how much tougher than me she is,” he said of Faris. “She really hasn’t complained or even remarked about how hard it is or how uncomfortable it is. If I was pregnant, every day, I would use it as an excuse to get something done for me. I’d be like, ‘My legs are sore. Get me a soda. Honey, I’m pregnant!’”
The actor sounds eager to have more kids — “I’ve got the name picked out for my upcoming boy, and if we have another son, I have that name picked out, and if we have a daughter, I have that name picked out ,” he said — and he also seems to have his family priorities pretty straight.
“I see these people who are grandparents like my mother- and father-in-law or my mom and dad,” he said. “They’ve got all of this life around them that sprouted from them. That is a huge source of their happiness. It’s an investment — you give up the spontaneity and the ability to go travel the world on a moment’s notice or stay out late and have fun and be wild and irresponsible. That’s all fun stuff. I love doing that stuff. But I’m willing to give that up if it means that the third third of my life will be filled with all the life and love that comes with [family].”
What happened at the Smithsonian
Of course, about an hour after that conversation, the candidate for “Parks and Rec” Expectant Father of the Year Award was making out with his onscreen wife, Plaza, during multiple takes that grew increasingly more ridiculous and, as previously noted, eventually led to Mr. and Mrs. Andy Dwyer taking their action to the floor.
In between scenes, Poehler and Scott both spoke glowingly about their experience the day before, when they shot a cocktail reception scene that featured cameos from Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).
“Everybody knew their lines really well,” Poehler said. “It makes you realize how politicians prepare and how actors don’t.”
“I was very impressed,” said Scott in a separate interview. “I think all three of them were better than I was in any of these scenes. No, I can guarantee it.”
Plaza said she got to meet the senators but didn’t shoot any scenes with them.
“I didn’t get to pull any weird April moves on them,” she said. Man, what a missed opportunity.
“I know,” she said. “I know. It would have been fun.”