5 things we learned from 'The Office' oral history: The making of Michael, Jim and Pam's near breakup

Theoffice

Andy Greene's 'The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s' explores the making of the cult favorite sitcom.

Theoffice

24.3.2020

NBC's TheOffice taught fans that there's beauty in ordinary things. It turns out, even ordinary things take a lot of effort to create.

Andy Greene's 'The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s' explores the making of the cult favorite sitcom.

beauty in ordinary things . It turns out, even ordinary things take a lot of effort to create. Andy Greene's"The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s" (Dutton, 464 pp.) explores the making of the cult-favorite sitcom that exploded into a major phenomenon on Netflix years after it ended. The oral history features interviews with nearly 90 cast and crew members plus executives and critics, and includes information from scripts, call sheets and casting documents. Here are 5 of the most interesting things we learned: 1. Some other famous faces almost played your favorite characters The show went through an extensive casting process to find the (mostly) relatively unknown actors who would go on to become known for their memorable roles in the sitcom. But"The Office" could have looked very different. TV show turns 15: 'The Office' celebrates its 15th anniversary: All the ways it changed pop culture Paul Rudd, Steve Zahn, Michael Showalter, Josh Radnor and Colin Hanks also auditioned for the role of Michael Scott, which would eventually go to Steve Carell. Even more stars were considered before audition rounds: Eugene Levy, Cedric the Entertainer, Dan Aykroyd, Matthew Broderick, Stephen Colbert, Hank Azaria and John C. Reilly. Bob Odenkirk was a close runner-up in auditions: Carell was working on another show for NBC at the time and the network wouldn't let him turn to"The Office" before they could confirm the other show would be cancelled. "But Bob has an edge to him," casting director Allison Jones noted."His take on Michael was just as funny as Steve's, but it was darker." Rainn Wilson also auditioned for Michael a day before his audition for Dwight Schrute. And John Krasinski was originally supposed to read for Dwight before landing Jim Halpert. 'The Office' is leaving Netflix in 2021, heading to NBC streaming service 2. Some actors still had their day jobs while working on the first few seasons Andy Buckley, who played Dunder Mifflin CEO David Wallace, remained a financial adviser for Merrill Lynch while making appearances on the show. Buckley recalled a day while shooting an episode for season 5 (which aired in 2008 and 2009) when"the stock market was down 750 points" and he had to go from shooting a scene to trying to calm clients' nerves over the market crash. "Of course I can't sit there and say to them, 'I'm sitting here all day doing scenes with Steve Carell and Idris Elba. I wish you guys were here,' when people's (worlds were) collapsing," he said. Kate Flannery (Meredith Palmer) worked as a waitress through the first season. Angela Kinsey (Angela Martin) drew on her previous experiences working at a temp agency. "Kate Flannery and I quit our jobs around the same time," said Oscar Nunez (Oscar Martinez), who worked as a caterer and babysitter."The manager at her restaurant said, 'You'll be back.' She hasn't been back." 3. Jim and Pam's first (real) kiss was planned but not rehearsed Jenna Fischer (Pam Beesly) recalled going over the blocking with Krasinski, but said they didn't actually practice that famous casino night kiss from season 2 before the cameras began rolling, in order to make it feel as authentic as possible. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the crew focused on making sure that from a"documentary" standpoint, none of the scene's surprises seemed premeditated. As director Ken Kwapis described:"The camera operator, and the documentarian, me, we essentially follow her back up to the bullpen... We don't know what she's about to do. But we are just interested in her because we know she's going through some emotional duress. What we're unprepared for is for Jim to enter. And so when Jim enters, the camera operator is sort of like, 'Oh (expletive),' and sort of stands up straight and quickly... (to signal) to the viewer that we were not ready for this." 4. Roy almost crashed Jim and Pam's wedding; plus more plots left on the writers' room floor Pet Day: Everyone brings their pets into the office. Michael brings his parrot named Jim Carrey. Lunch break: A nearly real-time look at what each character did during their time away from their desks for lunch. Michael Scott gets crucified: Writer Aaron Schure pitched an idea where Michael's shirt got caught in a garage door while playing basketball. He gets left hanging there overnight and"comes into work feeling Christlike because he spent the night kid of, somewhat cruicified." Jim and Pam's wedding: Writers originally planned for Pam's ex-fiance Roy (David Denman) to crash the wedding dressed like a knight and riding a horse to win her back. Series finale: Through the lens of the documentary crew, fans learn that Jim and Pam have broken up but later reconcile when they bring everyone back together for a documentary reunion special. 5. Michael Scott is why the American version succeeded past the British one, creators thought When TV execs first began developing an American-ized version of the British cult favorite, fans got worried – wouldn't they ruin it? In a controversial effort to bridge the gap between the two shows, the American pilot was copied almost exactly from the original. Reviewers hated it, deeming the show dead on arrival, with Carell's cringe-y, callous performance made largely to blame. The solution: Fans had to be rooting for Michael. Subsequent seasons put a greater emphasis on Michael's motivation. Unlike British show creator and star Ricky Gervais' David Brent, who was"driven by a desire to be famous," as critic Alan Sepinwall described him, Michael Scott's end-all, be-all goal was to be loved. Writers made sure it was clear that even when he was bumbling or tone-deaf or straight-up annoying, he cared about his co-workers and love interests and wanted them to show he mattered to them, too. Director Paul Feig cited season 2 episode"Office Olympics" as a major turning point for Michael. In the final act, Michael returns to the office and is awarded a gold medal from his employees, who had been participating in fake Olympics events in his absence. "Steve made this decision that as they're playing the national anthem (he would) tear up," Feig said."Suddenly it was like, 'Oh my God, this poor guy.' He was so vulnerable and you see how desperate (he is) for anything good to happen to him and any kind of approval or validation... I was like, 'Oh, we can actually make Michael a nut, and overbearing, and ridiculous, and all these things, but we can find moments when he's vulnerable and human.'" Read more: USA TODAY

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