The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for diehard fans.
The Office, a nonfiction book by Andy Greene, takes us behind the scenes and reveals the hilarious and heartwarming untold stories behind one of television’s most iconic shows, told by its creators, writers, and actors. The format endearingly reminded me of Comic-Con and felt like reading the transcript of an SDCC panel.
One of the many interesting things from the book was learning about who else had auditioned for the show. Michael Scott’s role had eventually come down to Steve Carrel and Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul). It seems Bob had really wanted the part. The casting team had found him as funny as Steve, but they found his take on Michael to have a darker edge and decided to go with Steve. The casting of John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer as Jim and Pam was incredibly sweet.
Jenna Fischer: They filmed us doing scenes on camera for two days, mixing and matching us. It was basically a fully produced screen test, something I’d never done before… Over the course of two days, I was asked to read with John Krasinski a lot, which I thought was a good sign since he was definitely the best Jim.
John Krasinski: The moment I sat down with her I thought, “This girl is going to get it.” When we were walking out I was like, “You are going to get it. I know it.”
Jenna Fischer: 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.” It gave me a big confidence boost to know we were rooting for each other.
John Krasinski: The first question I asked when I got the part was, “Did Jenna get the part?” She said, “That’s the first question I asked too.” So it was this weird thing going already, this chemistry that had already started, which was pretty awesome.
Creed Bratton: I could get emotional just watching John and Jenna just filming a scene because of that unrequited-love feeling they were conveying. It felt romantic. I could be across the room, glance up, and see the look. It was all in the eyes. They had a real special rapport.
I was also surprised to learn that Andy Buckley, who had played the role of Dunder Mifflin CEO David Wallace, had largely given up on acting by the time he got the role and was working as a financial adviser for Merrill Lynch. In fact, the filming of the Michael Scott Paper Company arc coincided with the 2008 Financial Crisis and it led to some chaotic days for Andy Buckley as he tried to balance his fake responsibilities as the head of Dunder Mifflin with his real-world responsibilities as a financial consultant at Merrill Lynch.
If there’s another thing we take away from this oral history, it’s that Steve Carell might just be the nicest guy in Hollywood. Throughout the book, his former colleagues gush over what a talented, humble, kind, and genuine person the actor is.
Creed Bratton: Everyone got a Rolex from Steve. I still wear mine all the time. It just says on the back, “To Creed, Love, Steve.” I got so emotional when he gave me mine. You want to be able to give back as a human being, but how can you give back something like that? I mean, that just shows how amazing and unselfish he is. He’s a caring guy. No one else is going to do something like that. Still to this day, I’m still stunned by that generosity.
I enjoyed the inside scoop we get on fan-favorite episodes such as Gay Witch Hunt, Stress Relief, Dinner Party, and Threat Level Midnight. In the chapter on Gay Witch Hunt, we find out that the scene in which Michael forcibly kisses Oscar to prove that he’s comfortable with homosexuality was not scripted and meant to be just a hug. Steve, realizing that something was amiss after 4-5 takes, decided to improvise and the scene ended up being one of the best moments in the series. It was also interesting to learn that while shooting Stress Relief, they had created a stuffed cat in the exact shape and size of Angela’s cat, which had cost them around $12,000. But eventually, they had ended up using two real cats and brought in official trainers to shoot the scene of a cat falling through the ceiling. This cost, however, doesn’t hold a candle to the $300,000(!) incurred while recreating the rest stop and a four-lane parkway for the iconic gas station proposal.
Hilarious and heartwarming, The Office: The Oral History gives fans and pop culture buffs a front-row seat to the phenomenal sequence of events that launched The Office into wild popularity, changing the face of television sitcoms and how we all see our office lives for decades to come.