After years of primarily playing supporting roles, Nick Offerman has finally getting a well-deserved leading role in Brett Haley and Marc Basch’s Hearts Beat Loud.

“I used to always make a joke because I usually play supporting parts, so I would say, ‘Well, it’s about this bus driver and a bunch of stuff happens leading up to we meet this bus driver. Our two main characters get on the bus. He takes their money, there’s a little interchange and then they leave, and we spend the rest of the movie wondering what happened to the bus driver,’” Offerman told uInterview exclusively at South by Southwest in Austin. “But in this case, I’m finally the main character.”

Offerman didn’t simply earn the role of a main character — it was written especially for him.

“You know, we wrote the part of Frank for Nick,” Haley said. “He was in our last film, The Hero, so Marc Basch, my cowriter, and I wrote this part for Nick, with him in mind hoping he would enjoy it and want to play with us again, and we’re glad that he did.”

 

Though he was no longer in a supporting role, Offerman said he admires the way Haley writes secondary characters.

“Something I love about Brett’s movies, of which I’ve seen three now, is he treats his supporting characters really generously — so he doesn’t just write a bus driver with a couple lines,” Offerman said. “Everybody has something to chew on, you know? So when you do that, when you write real, fleshed out characters, then you can get talent of that level to show up.”

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The fact that every character is treated as three-dimensional and getting to star opposite Ted Danson and Blythe Danner is what kept Offerman on his game. He said this way of writing was absolutely joyful.

“You make sure you do your homework and make sure you’re up to snuff because you’re getting in the ring with masters,” Offerman said.

Nick, who’s your character in the film?

Nick Offerman: I used to always make a joke because I usually play supporting parts, so I would say, ‘Well, it’s about this bus driver and a bunch of stuff happens leading up to we meet this bus driver. Our two main characters get on the bus. He takes their money, there’s a little interchange and then they leave, and we spend the rest of the movie wondering what happened to the bus driver.’ But in this case, I’m finally the main character.

I play Frank Fisher, I am rather sad, I own a failing vinyl store in Redhook Brooklyn. I’m the single dad of a very beautiful, talented daughter. We jam we have jam sessions playing music aroudn the house. My mother is also in the movie played by Blythe Danner, and we have a relationship that’s becomings trained because she’s starting to show signs of dementia a little bit.

My daughter’s being raised by me along because we lost my wife 11 years ago on a bicycle accident, so all of these factors are weighing on my character as we deal with the upcoming separation — my daughter’s about to leave and go to college. So we’re sort of growing up together, dealing with this adult life change.

Brett Haley: You know, we wrote the part of Frank for Nick. He was in our last film The Hero so Marc Basch, my cowriter, and I wrote this part for Nick, with him in mind hoping he would enjoy it and want to play with us again, and we’re glad that he did.

How does the father-daughter relationship develop?

BH: The father-daughter element of the film is the heart of the movie — it’s what the movie’s about. The challenge and the goal of it was to create a realistic parent-child relationship that felt authentic and real and honest so it wasn’t all, ‘Oh I love you dad, I’m gonna miss you so much,’ because kids at that age are kind of ready to get out, as they should be.

NO: I don’t know, it came really naturally, partly because Kiersey [Clemons] is such a superstar. From the moment she walked in the door, she was a ball of sunshine and incredibly welcoming and artistically collaborative, and so our relationship as older male collaborator to young superstar talent collaborator, I immediately felt like her dad trying to talk to her in the way that young people talk and, you know, asking her to teach me about emojis and try to get her to think I’m cool, basically, like a dad would do.

What was it like on set during shooting?

NO: Something I love about Brett’s movies, of which I’ve seen three now, is he treats his supporting characters really generously — so he doesn’t just write a bus driver with a couple lines. Everybody has something to chew on, you know? So when you do that, when you write real, fleshed out characters, then you can get talent of that level to show up. A lot of the movie’s two-person scenes, so you look at the day’s schedule and you get to sit and do scenes with Blythe Danner or Ted Danson —

BH: And all day.

NO: All day long. And so it’s just absolutely joyful, and you know, it keeps you on your game. You make sure you do your homework and make sure you’re up to snuff because you’re getting in the ring with masters.

BH: We had an embarrassment of riches working with people like Sasha Lane and Ted and Blythe and Tony, and then Nick and Kiersey on top of it. I got Nick and Kiersey almost every day.

I really loved working at a record shop. That week — we did an entire week in a record shop — it was my birthday week. We celebrated my birthday, it was my first time as a director — it was my favorite birthday ever because I was working, I was on set having the best time. Jeff Tweedy was there. Oh my God, it was amazing, and I think that whole week I would, after lunch, I would always pick an album from that store, like on the fly, and I would play the entire album while the crew was setting up for our night shoot and it just became this little tradition. My favorite day, it might have been my birthday day, it was one of the days I played Rain Dogs top to bottom and it was, like, I was just really happy. I was pretty happy on this movie. It was a lot of fun.