‘Parks and Recreation’: The Truth Behind Paul Schneider’s Exit From Series As Mark Brendanawicz
Looking back at Parks and Recreation has probably been a refreshed comedic rediscovery for fans who loved the recent quarantined/virtual reunion on NBC. Part of that involved going back and examining some of the more obscure characters within their gifted ensemble.
One character that fans delved into recently is Mark Brendanwicz, played by Paul Schneider. Some interesting trivia is out there about this character, including why Mark disappeared so suddenly after the second season.
The reason rests solely with Schneider himself, also known as a renowned indie filmmaker. However, the trajectory of Mark’s character was already intended to become erratic. For one key actor on Parks and Recreation, he likely feels grateful he never won the role, despite auditioning for it first.
Some characters, including Mark Brendanwicz, were based on real people
As hilariously unique as many of the Parks and Recreation characters were, showrunners Michael Schur and Greg Daniels based some of them on real-life government workers. The producers ran across similar city employees who seemed to possess many of the same quirks.
A city planner they once knew was very much like how Mark Brendanwicz turned out on the show. A funny angle involved the employee becoming tired of working for the government and going back and forth into the private sector. He could never seem to stay away from his governmental job, though, a dark place to be in for any city employee.
This is why Mark ultimately departed after Season Two after being used as a romantic device for Ann Perkins, if ending up being her ex-boyfriend. The original intention was to bring Mark back now and again to mimic that real city planner’s trajectory.
By the beginning of the third season, other sideline characters began to become more popular. Also, Schneider had some different career interests.
Paul Schneider seemed to have no regrets on leaving
Looking at Schneider’s credits, one can see he already had a fulfilling career going as an actor/writer/director when he did Parks and Rec. He continues to act in numerous high-profile projects like American Crime Story and Tales From the Loop.
Besides, most actors are never crazy about being asked to leave a show, come back, then leave again. While that was going to become a running gag with the Mark character, it creates problems for actors scheduling other things.
Based on an interview Schneider did last year for Screen Crush, he said this about Parks and Rec: “That experience was very strange for me. You know, I signed up for a specific character that was changed in mid-season. And it became a character with a lot less to do. And, all of a sudden, I was kind of confused and kind of having a lot less to do”.
His comment there reiterates the point of how difficult it is to play a character intended to be erratic, less likable, and in the background.
There was apparently no contact about returning to ‘Parks and Rec’
Schneider went on to say in his Screen Crush interview that beyond not having any personal interest in returning to the show, he simply was never contacted about it.
Fans might say the Mark character was overridden by the arrival of Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger, both of which became more popular characters in subsequent seasons. No doubt this relieved one key actor on the show.
Yes, Nick Offerman originally auditioned for the Mark role (originally named “Josh”). He was turned down because it was said he was not handsome enough for the romantic part. Imagining Offerman being bumped off the show after two seasons seems impossible considering his compelling comedic presence.
Instead, Ron Swanson became an iconic TV character. At least Schneider can say his character is still memorable considering everyone is still talking about him a decade later.