Based on the UK series of the same name, The Office became one of the most popular comedies on NBC. Covering the mundane workdays of the employees of the Scranton Branch of Dunder-Mifflin, audiences grew to love the everyday lives of the employees. The series became more than just an office sitcom. Audiences learned much more about the personal lives of each character and grew to love them. After the departure of actor Steve Carell from the role of Michael Scott, the series continued on with new cast members but the same hilarious antics. Even in its final hours, the show gave audiences the perfect closer to its nine years on the air, even including the return of favorite characters from over the years.
The behind-the-scenes secrets of the series help to shed more light about the growth of the series. We learned about initial auditions with a very different cast in mind and sentimental moments that touched the hearts of viewers. Not only did the cast participate in their acting roles but helped create essential elements of the show itself including the script and even directing. In addition, we find out more about what could have happened after the series end with the possibilities of spin-offs that would have expanded on the lives of our favorite characters. Even the connection between characters Jim and Pam seemed to have some truth in the real-life relationship between John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer. From near misses in the audition process to the lost spin-off series that could have been the next hit, here are 25 Wild Things About The Making of The Office.
23 Jim's Proposal Scene Cost $250,000 To Create
Given the importance of the relationship between Jim and Pam over the years, writers wanted to create the perfect engagement for this fan-favorite couple. The idea for the proposal in the rain at the gas station was the ideal scenario. Well, except that the cost for the shoot at an actual rest stop (Merritt Parkway) would be $100,000. Instead, they decided to shoot in Los Angeles and build their own version of the location complete with fake rain. As it turned out, the final cost to recreate the site turned out to be more than twice the amount to shoot on location. $250,000 to be exact!
Although many scenes of The Office consisted of both improvised scenes and rewrites, one scene, in particular, remained as written. The cast responded so well to “The Dinner Party” episode that writers decided to leave the episode the same as the original script. Show writer Gene Stupnitsky explained, “Most scripts get rewritten, and I think this was the only one ever done that didn't…” However, one scene was removed that came off as a little too intense for the episode. In the original script, the writers had planned to have Jan eliminate the neighbor’s dog by hitting it. Yikes. Thankfully, her actions were reduced to just merely spray painting the dog.
22 Network Executives Didn't Know That Steve Carell Was In The Finale
The departure of actor Steve Carrell became a painful change that many fans had trouble dealing with. Michael was the heart of the series, and his absence was truly missed. As the series came to an end in 2013, many fans wondered if he would make a return appearance. Luckily, showrunners always planned to have him return in the finale. However, they didn’t let the network executives know, so his return was a genuine surprise for them. Executive producer Greg Daniels said, “We shot the Steve stuff, and we kept it out of the dailies and didn’t tell them about it. At the table reading, we gave the Steve Carell lines to Creed.”
21 Originally, Oscar's Preference Was Never Planned
As the series progressed, the writers of The Office made changes to the background of characters as they got to know them better. Oscar, for example, was never planned to be gay. Instead, the writers decided that they wanted Michael to be inappropriate about preference at some point but needed weren’t sure how to go about it. However, they found inspiration to change the character thanks to a happy coincidence in his clothing. Daniels revealed that wardrobe had put Nunez in a pink shirt once and that was enough to inspire the change to his preference.
20 Carell Improvised His Kiss With Nunez
In the episode “Witch Hunt,” Michael got in trouble for not only insulting Oscar with a slur but also outing him. As punishment, he was forced to lead a sensitivity training session (which goes terribly wrong). As a means to resolve the tension between the two men, he apologized with a hug…and a kiss! In reality, the kiss was never part of the script. Actor Oscar Nunez recalled, “And that particular take he came in really close, and I'm like, ‘Where is he going with this?’ Oh, dear, yes here we go.” All of the actors’ reactions in that scene were genuine.
19 Carell Almost Didn't Get The Part Of Michael Scott
In the early casting for the series, Carell almost missed out on the role of Michael Scott. Actor Paul Giamatti was originally considered for the part. Additionally, Hank Azaria and Martin Short were in the discussion to play the role. Carell had been committed to a new series, Come to Papa, so he was not available for the role. Better Call Saul actor Bob Odenkirk was selected to play Michael and was even included as part of the cast when the show was presented to NBC executives. However, Carell’s series was canceled, allowing him to commit to the series finally.
18 A Copy Machine Was Supposed To Be Spun Off Onto “Parks And Recreation”
As the final season of The Office was coming to a close, show creators had many plans in place to create spinoff shows based around the characters. However, in one particular instance, they planned on building a spinoff using one of the copy machines as the connection. Executive producer Paul Lieberstein had initially planned to make Parks and Rec into a spin-off of the comedy series. The idea was that the broken copy machine would be tended to by a repairman on The Office. Later, it would be removed, refurbished and shipped off to the office in Pawnee, Indiana. The idea was never used, and Parks and Rec became its own show.
17 Fischer Kept Pam's Engagement Ring As A Memento
For nine seasons, the cast of The Office grew to become very close and very attached to the show. The eventual end of the series was a harsh blow for the cast and the final season proved to be very emotional. Actress Jenna Fischer shared how the cast found their own unique ways to remember their time on the series. Many of them took small mementos from the show to keep the memories alive. As for Fischer, she took one item that would have been genuinely special for her character: Pam’s engagement ring.
16 Jim And Pam Were Almost An Interracial Couple
The blossoming relationship between Jim and Pam became a major storyline throughout the series. From the first episodes, we saw the two coworkers casually flirt with each other as “just friends”. Their development from crushes to marrying and starting a family together meant so much to fans. However, in the early stages of the series, the beloved couple was not supposed to be played by John Krasinski and Fischer. Instead, they were plans for the duo to be an interracial couple with Craig Robinson as the Roy character. Also, the role of Pam Beasley would have been played by Darryl’s onscreen ex-wife (actress Erica Vittina Phillips), and she would have dated Jim.
15 Krasinski Shot The Footage Of Scranton For The Opening Credits
Included in the unforgettable moments of The Office is the memorable intro. Along with the iconic theme music were the images of the opening credit. This mixture of shots of the real Scranton, PA, and scenes from the show helped to capture the feel of the humdrum office of Dunder-Mifflin. However, fans may not realize that the iconic video from the intro consisted of real shots taken by Krasinski. He actually took a trip around Scranton and captured these shots while researching for the role. His journey included shots of the city and interviews with employees at paper companies.
14 Many Cast Members Actually Wanted Different Roles Initially
Despite how well they fit for their characters, several stars from The Office had their sights set on very different roles for themselves. Actress Angela Kinsey originally went for the part of Pam was told she was “too feisty” to play the soft-spoken receptionist. Later, she was won the role more suited for her personality: Angela Martin. Kate Flannery initially wanted to tackle the part of Jan Levinson-Gould but eventually took the role of Meredith Palmer instead. We can’t imagine Brian Baumgartner playing anyone other than Kevin Malone. However, he originally auditioned for the role of lovable curmudgeon Stanley Hudson.
13 Casting Wouldn't Let Krasinski Audition For Jim
John Krasinski was made to play the role of Jim Halpert, however, the casting directors weren’t so eager to place him in the part. When he initially auditioned for the series, he did receive a callback but not for the role he wanted. He was asked to audition for the role of Dwight Schrute instead. He was adamant about wanting to try out for Jim, but he was flatly refused. He was eventually allowed to audition for the role but not because they believed he could play it. It was because they had secured the right actor for the role. Thanks to Rainn Wilson being selected for Dwight, Krasinski got to try out for Jim.
12 Krasinski Got Into Some Trouble In The Audition Waiting Room
Krasinski’s struggles to audition for The Office continued even after he was allowed to try out for Jim. As he was waiting for an audition, he started up a conversation with another man sitting in the same waiting room. When asked if he was nervous, Krasinski responded that he was worried about the show itself. He stated, “It's just I love the British show so much and Americans have a tendency to just really screw these opportunities up. I just don't know how I'll live with myself if they screw this show up and ruin it for me.” The man turned out to be executive producer Greg Daniels. Oops!
11 Darryl Almost Became The New Regional Manager of Scranton
After Michael’s departure from The Office, the hunt for the next manager became the focus of many episodes. Despite adding several new characters to the series as managers, writers leaned more toward one of the seasoned characters to eventually take over. Showrunner Paul Lieberstein expressed his love for Andy as the manager thanks to his friendly disposition. He stated, “The Andy character is very different from Michael, but one of the things they have in common is that they both put people first and relationships first.” However, Andy wasn’t the only original character that was considered. Writers looked at putting Darryl in the position of manager, however, he was “too rational and smart”.
10 The American Pilot Was Basically The Same As The Pilot From The British Show
Given the large fan base of the UK series, many people had low expectations that the new American series would be as popular as the original. Many viewers noted, however, that the first episode of the series was very similar to the UK version. However, the hesitation to create something too different came from the uncertainty of the show itself. Daniels explained, “The first episode was the pilot, and the script had to be a situation where, you know, you're trying to get picked up. And since they had bought an adaptation, completely starting from scratch would be a very risky thing to do.” After the pilot, the show eventually branched out creatively.
9 Phyllis Smith Was A Casting Agent For The Show Before She Got The Part Of Phyllis
Many members of the supporting cast of The Office were noted for their skills in improv. Also, their first names were used for the names of their characters as well. In the case of actress Phyllis Smith (who played Phyllis Lapin-Vance on the series), her casting did come from the audition process but from a different method. Smith was helping with the casting for the series and assisted with the auditions. She would read the script opposite some of the auditioning actors. However, director Ken Kwapis was so impressed with her read that they offered her a role on the show created just for her.
8 A Spin-off About The Schrute Family Was In The Works
Fans of The Office were almost treated with a peek into the ridiculous lives of the Schrute family. There were talks of creating a series called The Farm that would focus on Dwight’s life and eccentric relatives. However, the network passed on the idea. Wilson expressed his regrets, saying, "NBC made a big mistake in passing on The Farm. I think there is a ton of potential. But if it didn't get picked up, I knew it was time to let Dwight go, to hang up my glasses, mess up that hard center part in my hair, and move on. That's what happened, and I'm over it."
7 Four Other Spinoff Ideas Were Discarded
However, The Farm wasn’t the only spinoff that had been considered from The Office. Several other fan-favorite characters could have had their own series if plans had worked out. There were ideas tossed around for a series that focused on Jim and Pam and their family life. Darryl was also planned to have a show based around him. There were even talks of making another series that focused on a different branch within Dunder-Mifflin. Lastly, an idea floated around of doing a mockumentary series similar to the PBS documentary, An American Family. However, Ed Helms’ Andy would play the dad, and Catherine Tate (before she became Nellie) would play the mom.
6 Fischer Never Revealed What Steve Carell Whispered To Her
One of the sweetest moments of the series occurred during the final episode for Carrell. In the season 7 episode “Goodbye, Michael,” he has special moments with some of his co-workers before he departs for Colorado. Unfortunately, he was not able to say goodbye to Pam before leaving for the airport. However, before his flight, the two share a special moment together with Michael whispering in Pam’s ear. Even after the series concluded, Fischer has never revealed what was spoken to her. Fischer has stated that the moment was real and they exchange real sentiments during the scene.
When The Office was originally being developed as an American adaptation, showrunners had different plans for its new home. The series was initially developed with a cable channel in mind. Both HBO and FX were possibilities for the series, especially with Kevin Reilly, then-entertainment president of FX showing an interest. However, Reilly left the position to move to NBC but never lost interest in the show. He offered to buy the series, but Daniels was hesitant to agree, stating that "it didn't feel like an NBC show.” In the end, Daniels agreed to the deal, and The Office found its home.
5 Real-life Spouses Of Some Of The Stars Played On The Show
The cast of The Office grew closer to each other over its nine seasons on-air. They viewed each as more than just co-workers: they became like a family. Along with their close relationships onset, the cast also brought along some of their personal connections to the series too. Several past guest stars have had personal relationships with the cast members. Actress Nancy Ellen Carell, who played Michael’s ex Carol Stills on the show, is his real-life wife. The two married back in 1995. Another spouse making an appearance on the show was actor Lee Kirk, who is married to Fischer. Kirk played Pam’s lactation coach in “The Delivery”.
4 Real Onset Child-Bearing
Child-bearing on tv shows can sometimes throw a tv show’s writing team in chaos. Either the series will find a way to incorporate the process into the storyline or the actress will be forced to hide her growing belly. For The Office, two stars experienced real events during filming. In season 4, Kinsey’s child-bearing was hidden throughout the season. They used the printer, accessories, and even boxes to hide her stomach. For Fischer, however, she was able to show her growing belly as her character already had the storyline built in for season 8. It just so happened that the actress’s real-life event coincided with her character’s storyline.
3 Many Main And Supporting Cast Members Had Larger Roles On The Show
The relatively unknown cast of The Office experienced a surge in their popularity and stardom after being a part of the hit series. Not only did they get a boost in the acting careers but some cast members branched out to participate in other aspects of the show. B.J. Novak (Ryan), Mindy Kaling (Kelly), and Paul Lieberstein (Tody) wrote a combined total of twelve episodes during the first and second seasons, at different points. Carrell wrote the episodes “Casino Night” and “Survivor Man”. Lieberstein also directed episodes during the fourth season. For the final season, Krasinski, Helms, Wilson, and Fischer, became producers for the series.
2 Fischer And Krasinski Felt An Instant Connection During Their Audition
The journey to find the perfect Jim and Pam involved a process of mixing and matching actors and actresses to make the perfect combo. However, when Krasinski and Fischer worked together, Fischer said she felt a special connection between them. She recalled, “John and I were walking out of an audition scene, and he suddenly turned to me and whispered, ‘You’re my favorite Pam. I hope you get this job…It was exactly as sweet and cute and supportive as anything Jim would say to Pam. I smiled really big and said, ‘I’m so glad you said that because you’re my favorite Jim and I don’t think anyone could do it except for you.'"
1 Fischer Got The Role Of Pam, She Immediately Asked If Krasinski Was Her Jim
Once Fischer found out she was selected for the part of Pam Beasley, she immediately asked who would play Jim, hoping her favorite actor got the role. She explained “When they called me and said I got the role, I said, 'Who's Jim? Did you cast John Krasinski?' They said, 'Yes,' and I started crying because I knew it would be good. And I mean this honestly – I can't do Pam without him. In the way you need the right partner to have a great marriage, I needed the right co-star to have this relationship.” It was meant to be.