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Why Space Force's Ben Schwartz Didn't Want To Play Another Jean-Ralphio For Netflix

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(Image credit: Netflix)

Space Force brought together a star-studded cast for a new take on a workplace comedy, with a motley crew tasked with creating the sixth branch of the US Armed Forces with the goal of complete space dominance. Ben Schwartz, arguably best known on the small screen for his bonkers performance as Jean-Ralphio on Parks and Recreation, played a different kind of crazy for Space Force. According to Schwartz, playing a different kind of character was a priority.

Ben Schwartz played a media manager by the name of F. Tony Scarapiducci, as a pretty thinly-veiled allusion to splashy former White House Communications Director Tony Scaramucci. Speaking with Collider about Space Force, Schwartz explained that the goal for the character going all the way back to the audition was "to make sure that this character was not Jean-Ralphio," then said this about his character in a potential Season 2:

I think those conversations will happen if we can get greenlit. The whole idea is grounding him in reality, making him a real person that has real risks, as opposed to Jean-Ralphio, who slowly becomes a Muppet. This guy is more grounded, and his actions have repercussions, and he really wants to be admired and respected.

Space Force's F. Tony Scarapiducci is visibly a different character from Jean-Ralphio, from his more professional wardrobe to his more controlled hair. Scarapiducci is overconfident and ridiculous, but not -- as Ben Schwartz points out -- in a way that could be defined as the early stages of Muppet development. He's definitely not Jean-Ralphio 2.0.

That said, Ben Schwartz's aim for a character who is not Jean-Ralphio is understandable. While he has appeared on a variety of shows, Schwartz may be most recognizable for his Parks and Rec character, which he recently reprised for the special reunion episode. When viewers saw Schwartz attached to the project, their minds might have jumped to the NBC series.

There's also the point that Parks and Recreation co-creator Greg Daniels also co-created Space Force with Steve Carell, so Scarapiducci of Space Force could have ended up quite similar to Jean-Ralphio of Parks and Rec. As it turns out, both characters are funny and over-the-top, but they're definitely not interchangeable. The same is truth with former The Office star Steve Carell, whose Space Force character definitely isn't Michael Scott 2.0.

In case you haven't checked it out yet, Netflix's Space Force follows four-star general Mark Naird (Steve Carell) who finds himself in charge of the Space Force branch of the Armed Forces. He assembles a team at a remote Colorado base to try and get Americans into space for total space dominance. Along with Steve Carell and Ben Schwartz, Space Force stars John Malkovich, Lisa Kudrow, Jimmy O. Yang, the late Fred Willard, Jane Lynch, Roy Wood Jr., Noah Emmerich, and more.

The first ten episodes of Space Force with Ben Schwartz are available streaming on Netflix now. The streamer hasn't announced a renewal or a cancellation at this point, but Greg Daniels dropped some pretty hopeful comments that Space Force could be back with more. For some viewing options now and in the not-too-distant future, be sure to check out our 2020 Netflix premiere guide and our 2020 summer premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Laura Hurley

Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.