O'Heir was kind enough to speak to Digital Spy recently. Find out what he said below about Jerry, Leslie and Ben's relationship and the possibility of Bill Murray appearing as a guest-star.
Jerry may be the office punching bag, but it's great to see that everyone ultimately has his back. What is your favourite part about playing the character?
"I think you just nailed it. Everybody ultimately has his back because I personally think it would be almost unwatchable if they were just mean to him and did not like or care about him.
"But I think they absolutely care about him. There have been many occasions where Leslie has literally said the department couldn't run without him when she thought that his job was in jeopardy.
"I've always loved the underdog characters. I've always loved Toby from The Office, who is an amazing character, so when this came along and we realised what direction my character was going to go, I was on board 100%."
When you were first pitched the character of Jerry, were you aware of how he would turn out?
"When I got the role, they did not know who Jerry was going to be. I had originally auditioned for the role of Ron Swanson, which is played of course brilliantly by Nick Offerman.
"They called a couple of weeks later and said, 'Would Jim consider coming in for this other role?' I did, and they were very honest. They said, 'We don't know what's going to happen with this. We want to bring him on board. There's a chance something will happen, and there's a chance nothing will happen.'
"[Co-creator] Greg Daniels's theory is, just put a good actor at a desk and something will happen. In this case, we did an episode [in season two] where we were trying to find dirt on each other, and Mark Brendanawicz, played by Paul Schneider, walked in and let Jerry know that his mother not only smoked marijuana but that she was his adoptive mother - which he had no idea about.
"I guess in the writers' room, it was like, 'Bingo! That's who Jerry is. He's the fall guy. He's the guy who gets, out of nowhere, terrible news and who's ultimately the punching bag of the office.'"
"I hope so. Paul is one of my favourite people in the world. I know [the writers] want to, but after Paul left, he's been doing films and he's all over the place.
"I know that there's definitely talk that there will be a revisit for Mark Brendanawicz, and with everything that's going on now in the show, I think it would really have a nice little twist. Yes, I'm hopeful. I don't know for sure."
Are you surprised by how popular Jerry has become?
"Yeah, I really am. I'm just so happy to have regular work, which in the world of acting is a tough thing to come by. I've been very blessed and I've done a lot of different shows over the years, but to be on such a well-respected show is amazing.
"I knew going in I wasn't one of the lead characters like your Leslies, but I'll never forget when I was leaving a restaurant a year ago and somebody yelled at me something like 'Hey Jerry, thanks for ruining the Harvest Festival'. I realised, 'Wow, there are people getting this. They're getting who Jerry is'.
"And now, every time I go out of the door, somebody's making a Jerry reference. A lot of people just scream 'Dammit, Jerry' or 'Don't screw up next time', but yeah, I'm really surprised by it - beyond flattered and thrilled and just really blessed by the whole situation."
Jerry seems to be very satisfied with his home life. Will we get to see his family any time soon?
"Yes, we will meet my daughter. Very soon, you will meet one of Jerry's daughters, and there will be an interesting scenario around her. We finally get to meet one of Jerry's family who he's very proud of. Jerry has a lot of garbage at the office, but he's made the family he goes home to every night, and for him that's the most important thing."
Can you tease what else we can expect to see from Jerry this season?
"You saw [in the season four premiere] where we found out Jerry has certain... attributes! It was a big reveal! We're shooting an episode this week - we just did a table read last Wednesday - in which there is another big reveal, but not in the same vein as the one a couple of weeks ago. I have to watch what I say, though!"
Patricia Clarkson recently appeared on the show. What was it like having her on set?
"First of all, there are so many of us who are just huge fans of hers. There was so much talk about who was going to play Tammy 1, and because we've become this well-respected show, we were getting phone calls from very prominent actresses.
"We were anxious to see who would get the role, and Nick Offerman and his real wife Megan Mullally from Will & Grace are actually good friends with Patricia. So when her name was brought into the mix, it just seemed like the perfect way to go.
"She's a cold, cold, cold person as Tammy 1, but in person she could not have been sweeter. We were all a little nervous. She's got a great reputation and everyone is enamoured with her work, so we were thrilled to have her on set. She was as wonderful as we had hoped she would be.
"And I think she had a really great time. She had commented on how fun the set is, which we're known for. It's a really pleasant place to be. Patricia was amazing, and I hope, hope, hope - and I'm pretty sure - that she'll be back at some point."
And what other guest stars do you guys have lined up this season?
"I know we like to do a lot of repeating of the same people from Pawnee. I think it gives such a nice feel as far as - this is our little world, this is not a big place. So you're going to be seeing a lot of... Perd Hapley and we have Joan Callamezzo - the brilliant Mo Collins [who plays her] will be back.
"I don't know who else is lined up as far as the big guest stars go, but I know that Amy Poehler's really, really trying to get Bill Murray to play Mayor Gunderson."
That'd be great!
"That would be amazing. We're all a huge fan, but she's a particularly big fan of his. I wouldn't be shocked, but I don't know either way if it is going to happen. There will also be a lot of your people from Pawnee.
"What I love most about the show is they do so many little callbacks that the loyal fans totally get. When you see someone walk by, you're like, 'That's one of the crazy people from the eighth floor!' - that kind of stuff."
"I said to Adam Scott who plays Ben, when he did the bit [in the season four premiere] where Leslie opens up the package and it's a campaign button - I said, 'If you weren't loved before this, you're going to have every woman in the world thinking you're the greatest guy that's ever existed.'
"He thinks the world of her, but he knows how important this campaign would be to her and he doesn't want to interfere with it. So they have to get together. They have to. I know a couple of things that they're going to kill me if I reveal, but let's just say nobody is rooting for them more than I am."
Parks and Recreation has been praised by critics and has plenty of obsessive fans. Why do you think it's adored as much as it is?
"Here's my theory. A lot of sitcoms are 'boom boom boom laugh, boom boom boom laugh, laugh, cut to a break'. If you watch our show, we're willing to have serious moments. We've cut to commercial breaks with Leslie literally saying the words, 'I'm just so sad'. I don't think a lot of shows are willing to do that.
"Our writers were willing to not only let April and Andy, who are these crazy kids, get together but they actually let the marriage happen. And even as I was reading that script, I'm like 'I don't know', but when you see it, of course they belong together. They absolutely should be together. I think a lot of shows might have pulled back and either Jerry would have done something stupid to screw up the day, or Leslie would've jumped in to say, 'This can't happen'.
"Basically, there's a lot of love on the show. There's a lot of love within the characters. Everybody cares about each other, and I think we have writers that are unbelievable. I've been on many shows, but I've never ever sat down at a table read week after week with scripts that everyone says are amazing [like with Parks and Recreation]."
Finally, what are your other favourite shows on television right now?
"I've been an Office fan from day one. I knew Steve Carell in Chicago back in the day, so I started watching to support a Chicago guy and immediately got hooked on that show.
"Community is a great show. I love Raising Hope with Martha Plimpton. And I love The Middle - another Chicagoan in there is Neil Flynn, who used to play the janitor in Scrubs. I haven't seen Whitney yet, the new show that's on Thursday nights with us, so I will be checking that out.
"But I've been a TV guy forever. As a kid growing up, I've always been obsessed with television, particularly situation comedies, so to be on one and one that I think is so amazing is a dream come true."
Parks and Recreation season four continues at 8.30/7.30c on NBC.