At the mediocre paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania, branch manager Michael Scott (Steve Carell) and his employees kept audiences laughing for almost a decade. The iconic mockumentary first premiered in 2005 as an American version of the British sitcom of the same name, and it was the little show that persevered.
Although it looked like The Office wasn’t going to make it, the series lasted for nine seasons and is still immensely popular today. The show had no shortage of laughs and heartfelt moments between Dwight and Jim’s prank war, Michael’s shenanigans, and multiple office romances. Take a look inside the offices of Dunder-Mifflin and see what went on behind the scenes.
Filming in a Real Office
Have you ever wondered how The Office made everything look so authentic? When the first season began filming, they shot in an office building in Culver City, California. The show was meant to be a documentary, so working in an actual office made everything seem more realistic.
The pilot episode was filmed six months before the rest of Season 1, possibly because the office building was in use. Angela Kinsey said that usually they would build an office, but working with an actual building lent itself to the documentary style. Although some shots weren’t “pretty,” it made the series believable.
Ricky Gervais’ Warning
While filming the pilot episode, Ricky Gervais, creator and star of The Office UK, advised the cast and crew on making the character of Michael Scott distinguishable from his British counterpart. He said that although it’s tough to get fired from a job in England, it is much different in America.
To make sure audiences didn’t get frustrated with Michael, Gervais suggested that the character could be silly and stupid, but there had to be proof that he was a good salesperson. Therefore, the writers and Carell portrayed him as a sympathetic misfit who could be awkward and cringey.
The Temp Was the First Cast Member
While his character was not the first person hired at Dunder-Mifflin, BJ Novak, who played Ryan the temp, was the first actor and writer hired for the series. Executive producer Greg Daniels saw Novak doing standup comedy and offered him the role as both Ryan and a writer.
Novak started a trend of people who would act and write for The Office. Daniels knew the then 25-year-old would be perfect for the show and had to hire him. Novak became an instrumental part of the writing team even though he took some breaks from acting on the series.
Forever and Always an Assistant to the Regional Manager
Dwight Schrute, played by Rainn Wilson, always wanted to be the regional manager of Dunder-Mifflin, but he was never destined for the position. Like his character, Wilson auditioned for the role of Michael Scott, and he was the first person to audition for the series. But it wasn’t meant to be.
Wilson admitted that his first audition was terrible. He said he did his best Ricky Gervais impersonation because he didn’t know what to do with the character. When he learned about Dwight, Wilson immediately knew that he was the right actor for the role, and he was spot on.
If you take a close look at Pam’s desk in the “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” episode, you might notice an adorable picture of Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Angela (Angela Kinsey). The photo was taken of the two actresses celebrating after getting some exciting news.
While filming the “Booze Cruise” episode, the secondary cast members learned that they were being promoted to series regulars. Up to that point, they were hired week-to-week. The photo was a genuine moment between these two real-life BFFs, who shared this story on their podcast.
Pissing Off the Wrong Person
When Jon Krasinski auditioned for The Office, it didn’t go too well. Initially, he was supposed to audition for Dwight, but he convinced the cast directors to let him read for the part of Jim. To make matters worse, he pissed off the wrong person while waiting to audition.
Krasinski was sitting in the waiting area, and another guy in the room asked if he was nervous. Krasinski said that he was a big fan of the British version, and “Americans have a tendency to screw these opportunities up.” The man sitting there was Greg Daniels, the show’s executive producer.
Creating the Intro
Although he pissed off Daniels, Krasinski managed to get the role of Jim. He wanted to do his research, so he met with several employees at different paper companies. Krasinski drove through Scranton, PA, in his friend’s Jeep and filmed parts of his visit.
The footage of Krasinski’s trip through the city was used in the show’s opening credits sequence. According to Wilson’s memoir, the footage Krasinski captured helped production with set decoration and design details. It seems that his efforts made up for him insulting the executive producer.
A Different Cast
While we all know and love the cast of The Office today, it was almost a much different ensemble of actors. Adam Scott, known for his role as Ben Wyatt in Parks and Recreation, auditioned for the part of Jim. Seth Rogen auditioned for Dwight, and Kinsey wanted to play Pam.
It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Brian Baumgartner playing Kevin Malone, but Kevin Stonestreet had auditioned for the part. Stonestreet went on to play Cameron Tucker in Modern Family. The show would have been entirely different with a different cast, especially if Carell wasn’t playing Michael Scott.
Better Call Michael Scott
While many famous actors auditioned to be part of The Office cast, no one else could have brought Michael Scott to life like Carell. During the audition process, producers liked Carell’s work in Bruce Almighty, but he was under contract with another NBC sitcom.
Carell couldn’t get involved with The Office until his other show got canceled. Instead, the frontrunner for the part was Bob Odenkirk, known for Better Call Saul. His Michael Scott was just as funny as Carell’s but darker. However, Carell became available just in time.
Phyllis Smith Gave Herself a Role
Before playing Phyllis Vance for nine seasons on The Office, Phyllis Smith was a casting associate who read lines with auditioning actors. Staff writer Ken Kwapis liked Smith’s readings during the audition process and convinced Daniels to give her a role on the show.
In her younger days, Smith was a cheerleader and burlesque dancer. She started as an NFL cheerleader for the Cardinals, but she put that behind her to become a casting director. We can imagine Phyllis Vance having some wild stories from her younger years.
Rainn Wilson Sent Someone to the Hospital
Considering Wilson’s character caused Stanley to have a heart attack during a fire safety lesson, it is no surprise that Wilson actually sent him to the hospital. The show got crazy at times, and during the Season 3 episode, “Beach Games,” Wilson kicked sand into Leslie David Baker’s eye.
Baker, who played Stanley, had to be rushed to the hospital to have his eye cleaned. He was left with a scratched cornea. It seems like something Dwight would accidentally do to Stanley when he was trying to hit Jim instead.
iTunes Saves the Day
Surprisingly, The Office was initially poorly received. The ratings tanked, and NBC thought about canceling the series. Luckily, iTunes released the first season for people to purchase, helping the show take off. Suddenly, The Office had a huge fanbase, and ratings skyrocketed.
The president of NBC credited the show’s comeback to the episodes being posted online. Carell also helped revive the show after his movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin made him a household name. His newfound stardom and iTunes helped The Office continue running.
Not a British Fan
We hate to say it, but the wild success of The Office in the US made people forget the UK version ever existed. Ricky Gervais played Michael Scott’s English counterpart, and while Carell could have watched his portrayal to study for the role, he avoided it.
Most of the cast watched the UK version, but Carell stopped watching after ten minutes to avoid impersonating the character. He wanted to play Michael Scott in his own way. Carell was nervous that it wouldn’t be as successful as Gervais’ version, but he proved himself wrong.
The Unscripted Kiss
While there were many kisses exchanged over the seasons, none were as memorable as the one between Michael and Oscar. In the episode “Gay Witch Hunt,” Michael awkwardly kisses Oscar to show it’s okay to be gay. However, this iconic moment wasn’t written in the script.
Carell decided to lean closer and closer to Oscar Nunez, who played Oscar, and all the actors were freaking out off-screen. The camera stayed focused on Carell and Nunez while they awkwardly kissed. It was initially written as a hug, but they decided to use the footage.
Mindy Kaling Was a Prankster
Mindy Kaling and Novak spent a lot of time together as their characters Kelly and Ryan. on set Kaling loved making up elaborate lies to tell Novak about their coworkers. Once, she told him that Daniels dated one of the actresses on the show.
When Daniels asked Novak what he thought of a scene the actress was in, Novak lied to avoid insulting Daniel’s “ex-girlfriend.” Novak didn’t get to make the cuts he wanted. He jokingly said Kaling bullied him, but it was all in good fun.
Oscar the Grouch
Although The Office became popular, its rocky start caused some people to question if it would last. Nunez was one of those doubters. When he first got the role of Oscar Martinez, he kept his job as a waiter just in case it didn’t succeed.
After going on for nine seasons, Nunez and everyone else who doubted the show were proven wrong. His character became an essential part of the LGBT community, and Nunez was recognized for playing a gay man of color. His character’s rationalism must have come from the actor’s personality.
The Pink Shirt Changed His Character
Oscar’s sexuality became an important plot point after Michael outed him in Season 3. The LGBT community was happy to see representation on an NBC sitcom, which helped The Office receive lots of praise. However, Nunez’s character wasn’t written to be gay.
When the wardrobe department put Nunez in a pink shirt, the writers had a lightbulb moment. They knew Michael would be trying to figure out who was gay, but they hadn’t decided which character it would be. Then Nunez came out in his pink shirt, and they found their gay character.
Strong-Willed Pam Isn’t a Crowd Pleaser
When the show began, Jenna Fischer’s character Pam Beesly was quiet and kept her opinions to herself. As the show progressed, Pam became more outspoken and strong-willed. In Season 3, Pam speaks up about how she is treated after walking across the hot coals.
This was a significant change for Fischer’s character compared to the reserved Pam fans were used to. Some fans even approached Fischer to tell her they didn’t like how assertive Pam became. Fischer thought people would be happy to see that Pam had grown, but she was disappointed.
Jim and Pam Were Supposed to Have a Different Look
Although Jim and Pam have become an iconic TV couple over the years, Krasinski and Fischer weren’t the original choices for an office romance. The writers were thinking of an interracial romance to “Americanize” the show. Daniels had planned for other actors to get together.
Initially, Daniels thought Erica Vittina Phillips would play Pam and Craig Robinson, who played Darryl, would be Roy. Pam would still end up with Jim in the end. However, Fischer and Krasinski were too good to turn down. No one else could make us tear up like these two.
An Alternate Plot Line
The new book “Welcome to Dunder Mifflin: The Ultimate Oral History of The Office” reveals a shocking alternate plotline for Jim and Pam’s relationship. In the “After Hours” episode, writers wanted Jim to cheat on Pam with her maternity replacement Cathy Simms (Lindsey Broad).
However, Krasinski put his foot down because it would have altered the show’s legacy. That was the only time he was opposed to something because he thought it would push the audience away. He knew the fans wouldn’t come back if Jim cheated, and he was probably right.
Jim was known for his mop-top hair during the first few seasons, and then he switched his look to a more sophisticated style when he was interviewing for the corporate position. However, Krasinski cut his hair before his character was supposed to change his hairstyle.
Krasinski was simultaneously filming the movie Leatherheads and Season 3 of The Office. He shaved his head for the movie role, which Jim would never do, so Krasinski had to wear a wig through the rest of the season. If you look closely, you can tell it’s fake.
Rashida Jones Was Nervous
Rashida Jones was introduced as Jim’s love interest in Season 3. She appeared in the series until Season 7. Jones was nervous about joining the show and kept laughing during her first day of filming. She laughed so much that she thought she would be fired.
Although her character Karen stood in the way of Jim and Pam getting together sooner, Jones didn’t get fired, and viewers got to know her character. Jones was so great as Karen that they almost made Parks and Recreation a spin-off of The Office centered around Karen.
If you go back to watch the first episode of The Office, you might notice that there are random people in the conference room during the first meeting. Two women in the pilot were accountants for the production company, but they were never seen after the first episode.
There is also a red-headed woman who is supposed to be Meredith. Henriette Mantel was the original Meredith in the pilot, but the role was recast because Mantel had a different project. Therefore, Kate Flannery replaced Mantel and played Meredith for the rest of the show.
During Season 1, Fischer commuted an hour from LA to Culver City. To pass the time, she listened to a mixtape she made called “Sounds of Scranton” to get into character. She had some classic rock and Garth Brooks in the mix because she didn’t know what people on the East Coast liked.
Fischer also wrote an essay about Pam’s backstory to justify why she would be engaged to Roy for three years. The backstory was that their families were close, and Roy worked in the same place, so she couldn’t get out of the relationship.
Many things on The Office were improvised, like one of Michael’s first lines. Daniels asked Carell who he thought Michael’s heroes would be, which created the line: “Bob Hope. Umm, Abraham Lincoln definitely. Bono, and probably God would be the fourth.”
Another improvised moment was Dwight’s anatomy question in the “Sexual Harassment” episode. Moreover, Dwight and Jim’s almost hug wasn’t in the script. Because of all the unplanned moments, many characters broke out in laughter. However, some caused more emotional reactions that added depth to the series.
An Emotional Departure
One of the many unscripted additions to the series was during one of Carell’s final appearances on the show. In Season 7, when Michael walks into the conference room, and everyone sings a parody of “Seasons of Love,” Carell had no idea it would happen.
The cast and crew rehearsed without Carell, and his response was genuinely emotional. Also, Fischer said her actual goodbyes to Carell, which viewers can’t hear, when they filmed their final scene together in the airport. Everyone was emotional about Carell’s departure.
Creed Bratton Almost Got the Boot
Creed Bratton, who plays the character of the same name, was almost fired in Season 2. In the “Halloween” episode, Michael had to pick an employee to fire due to budget cuts. Daniels couldn’t fire any of the prominent cast members, so he had to choose between two background actors.
It was between Bratton and Devon Abner. Daniels found out that Abner had an upcoming theater contract and was going on tour, so he decided to leave the show. However, they made it seem like Creed was going to be fired in the episode.
Those Aren’t Actors
The Office had a few memorable episodes set at restaurant chains, including Chilli’s and Hooters. Fischer and Kinsey later revealed that real-life restaurant employees and locations were used to film scenes. Chilli’s manager and franchise owner John Bossert got to ban Pam from the restaurant chain.
In the episode where Michael and Jim go to Hooters, all the waitresses besides Jim and Michael’s main waitress were real-life Hooters employees. The restaurant has since been closed, and Chilli’s went out of business before The Office used it to film “The Dundies.”
All in the Family
There have been many guest appearances on The Office, including Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey, Idris Elba, and Evan Peters. However, some of the guests were family members of the cast. Michael’s girlfriend/realtor Carol Stills was played by Carell’s wife, Nancy Carell.
When Pam gives birth to her daughter CeCe, she asks the nurse for a lactation consultant. The man who comes to help her is Fischer’s husband, Lee Kirk. The two had an oddly instant connection in their awkward scene, which people later realized was because they were in a relationship.
Many cast members got a chance to step behind the camera to direct episodes of the show. Krasinski, Kaling, Novak, Paul Liberstein, and Ed Helms all got an opportunity to sit in the director’s chair. Some guest directors were people who weren’t part of the cast.
Brian Cranston, known for Breaking Bad, directed the “Work Bus” episode in Season 9. Also, many of the cast members were writers for the show, like Novak, Kaling, and Liberstein, who played Toby. It was encouraged for the writers to have roles in the show.
The Most Expensive Scene
In addition to Jim and Pam’s wedding episodes, one of the most heartfelt scenes was Jim’s rain-filled proposal. The writers had a clear vision for how they wanted Jim to propose to Pam, and they wanted to film it at an actual rest stop on the Merritt Parkway. However, that would have been too expensive.
Instead, the crew built an exact replica of the rest stop, which ended up costing them $250,000, $150,000 more than the original plan. It was the most expensive and elaborate shot they did for the series.
Michael’s Secret Return
When Michael returns in the series finale for Dwight and Angela’s wedding, it was a surprise to the network executives. The showrunners kept Carell’s return a secret by having Bratton read Carell’s lines during the table reading. They even shot Carell’s scenes in secret.
They kept Carell’s filming schedule out of the dailies and didn’t tell them until everything was finished. It was a surprise to the execs and fans when Michael appeared in the last episode. It was a heartwarming reminder of how far the show had come.
Dwight Almost Got a Spin-Off
After The Office ended, Wilson’s character was supposed to get a spin-off called The Farm. However, the network passed on the show because the timing was wrong. Since his iconic portrayal as Dwight, Wilson has been in movies like The Meg and Smurfs: The Lost Village.
Wilson has also been in Adventure Time, Star Trek: Discovery, and Backstrom. Besides his acting work, he wrote and published an autobiography titled “The Bassoon King.” Wilson also co-founded the website Soul Pancake, focusing on creating positive and engaging content. We wonder if he still loves beets.
Keeping It Cool
While filming the show, Carell had to keep the temperature on set at 64°F because of his overactive sweat glands. Everyone else got space heaters to stay warm. However, after his Season 7 departure, the set warmed up, and so did his career.
Carell has had incredible success in his career since The Office. He voiced Gru in the Despicable Me animated movies and took on dramatic roles in films like Little Miss Sunshine. He also received an Oscar nomination for Foxcatcher. Carell won’t return for a reboot because he said the show wouldn’t work in today’s PC culture.
No Longer an HR Man
Since his time as Toby on The Office, Lieberstein hasn’t done much acting, but he has continued to produce. He was an executive producer during the last season of Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. Lieberstein was also an executive producer for Ghosted.
Lieberstein had a guest appearance on The Mindy Project with his former co-star, Kaling. While he hasn’t been on TV much, people still think of him as Toby, who might have been the Scranton Strangler. There have been many fan theories, and one can only assume that they are secretly true.
Fischer continued acting after The Office, with roles in The Mysteries of Laura and You, Me, and the Apocalypse. Like Fischer, Kinsey had a few minor roles in Hulu’s The Hotwives and Netflix’s Haters Back Off. However, Kinsey and Fischer teamed up for their most successful project.
Kinsey and Fischer are best friends in real life and hang out frequently. The two teamed up to co-host the podcast “Office Ladies.” They talk about behind-the-scenes secrets from each episode of the series. It’s like hanging out with Pam and a nicer version of Angela.
Novak Made It to the Big Leagues
You know you have made it in Hollywood when you land a role in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Novak was lucky enough to land a part in Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. He also had features in The Amazing Spider-Man and Saving Mr. Banks.
Novak continued to work with his former co-stars, including a guest appearance in The Mindy Project. He also released a book of short stories called “One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories.” Ryan would be proud of Novak for the app he launched focused on lists.
Brian Baumgartner Racked Up the Guest-Star Roles
Baumgartner, who played Kevin, might not have had a role as significant since The Office, but he has appeared on a few shows since the series ended. He was in several films, including Four Christmases with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn and License to Wed.
Besides his few film appearances, Baumgartner also guest-starred in Fox’s Scream Queens, Freeform’s Melissa and Joey, and ABC’s The Goldbergs. Even when he appears on different shows, it’s hard to picture him as anyone but Kevin Malone, the loveable yet vulgar accountant.
Stanley and Phyllis Are Taking It Easy
Like Baumgartner, Smith and Baker’s most famous roles were their characters on The Office. However, they have done a few important things since they departed from Dunder Mifflin. Smith voiced Sadness in Pixar’s Inside out and appeared in ABC’s The Middle.
Smith was also in Bad Teacher and Trophy Wife. Meanwhile, Baker voiced a character for the Captain Underpants film and guest-starred on CBS’s Scorpion and CBS’s Life in Pieces. Currently, Baker voices a character in Disney Junior’s Puppy Dog Pals. We are sure Stanley would rather retire to sunny Florida.
Creed Bratton Is Keeping a Low Profile
Like his character in The Office, Bratton has been keeping a low profile since the series finished. He hasn’t taken on many acting gigs, but he has had some guest appearances on shows like Grace and Frankie and Adventure Time.
Maybe he switched his identity like his character did when he had too many problems. However, we are sure Bratton is just living a life of leisure. He has been successful enough throughout his career, so he deserves some time to sit back and relax. However, we hope he returns for a reunion.
Mindy Kaling Took Over Hollywood
Like her character Kelly, Kaling is a force to be reckoned with. When The Office ended, Kaling starred in The Mindy Project, which she created, wrote, and produced. After three seasons on Fox, the show moved to Hulu. Kaling is also the author of multiple memoirs and a single mother.
Besides her roles in A Wrinkle in Time, Ocean’s 8, and Netflix’s Champions, Kaling also wrote the popular Netflix series Never Have I Ever. She is a multifaceted actress who has only grown since her time as a customer service rep at Dunder Mifflin.
Ed Helms Is a Household Name
When Ed Helms joined the cast in Season 3, he quickly became a fan favorite until he left Erin (Ellie Kemper) for a boat trip with his brother. Outside of The Office, Helms has been in several popular movie franchises, including the Hangover movies and We’re the Millers.
After his massive big-screen success, Helms appeared on Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Mindy Project, and Netflix’s Arrested Development. He also had the honor of giving a convocation speech at Cornell University, his Office character’s alma mater.
Jon Krasinski Aged Like Fine Wine
We don’t know how it’s possible, but Krasinksi gets better looking each year. When he said goodbye to Jim, Krasinski moved to the big screen. He has starred in films such as Away We Go, It’s Complicated, Something Borrowed, and 13 Hours. He sadly didn’t marry Fischer in real life.
However, Krasinski married actress Emily Blunt, and they are an adorable couple. Krasinski directed his first film, A Quiet Place, which starred himself and Blunt. Krasinski has many exciting projects in the works, and we look forward to seeing what he will do next.
Ellie Kemper Scored Major Acting Roles
When Ellie Kemper joined The Office cast as Erin, she was still an unknown actress. The role was her big break and led her to a widely successful career. Kemper has been in everything from Bridesmaids and 21 Jump Street to The Secret Life of Pets and The Mindy Project.
However, her biggest role was starring in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The show earned her a few Emmy nominations, and she became a household name. Kemper has since published a memoir about her career thus far and continues to expand her horizons.