Nick Offerman has opened up about the homophobic backlash he received after his The Last of Us appearance. 

Earlier this year, the Parks and Recreation talent made massive waves for his guest star appearance in the show’s third episode, titled ‘Long Long Time’ after the Linda Ronstadt classic. 

Spoilers ahead

Unlike the series’ first two episodes, the heartwarming entry focused on Bill (Offerman), a paranoid survivalist, and his partner Frank (Murray Bartlett).

Throughout the episode, viewers follow the couple over two decades as they fall in love, protect their Lincoln home from infected people and raiders and strike a partnership with Joel (Pascal) and Tess (Anna Torv).

In their later years, a terminally ill Frank asks Bill to euthanize him. Subverting the harmful trope of equating homosexuality with tragedy, Bill dishes our two lethally doses to their wine glasses, saying: “This isn’t the tragic suicide at the end of the play.”

Upon its release, the episode received universal critical acclaim – with praise aimed at Bartlett and Offerman’s performances, Craig Mazin’s script and Peter Hoar’s direction. It also garnered a 98% rating on the review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. 

But despite it being lauded by the majority of viewers, the third episode and its cast were still subjected to homophobic abuse from conservative critics. 

In a recent interview with the i, Offerman recalled being “fascinated by how openly people will express hate and brand themselves as bigots.” 

“I kept thinking: ‘We can see you! Because here were men saying: ‘I’m a father and a Christian and a patriot and I hate queers,'” he said. 

The Will and Grace star then pointed out how alarming it was that such forms of anti-LGBTQ+ hate are “still pretty safe” in today’s society. 

“We’re basically punishing people for loving wrong. All these people want to do is to love each other. Like, I love Belted Galloway cows. I also love walnut trees,” he continued.

Towards the end of his statement, Offerman expressed the importance of inclusivity, stating: “People who come to my shop are straight, gay, trans, non-gender-conforming… it doesn’t matter if you want to make a table, and why should it.” 

Offerman’s recent statements come a week after The Last of Us director Peter Hoar revealed that legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg sent a letter to the show’s creative team praising the aforementioned episode.

“Well, I didn’t get it directly, but [an actual Spielberg letter] came to Craig Mazin, the writer of my episode of The Last of Us – the writer of all the episodes,” he explained to The Hollywood Reporter.

“He shared it with myself, Nick Offerman, Murray Bartlett and [cinematographer] Ebn Bolter. Basically, a whole group of middle-aged men started squealing because their idol had realized who they were.” 

For more details regarding The Last of Us season two, click here.