Rarely do television reboots manage to match the quality of their original iteration, let alone improve upon it. The American reimagining of The Office, however, falls into that small bracket. The show was first introduced to British audiences by comedic titan Ricky Gervais, and it revolutionized the sitcom genre with its realistic depiction of office life. The U.S. version only added to this, offering a unique twist to these already stellar foundations. But what about those little-known facts surrounding the show? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Feast your eyes on these 20 fascinating behind-the-scenes secrets about The Office.
20. From burlesque dancer to star actress
It’s not every day you’re going about your daily life when someone suddenly offers you a major role in an upcoming TV show. Phyllis Smith, however, was the exception. Indeed, the producers were such a fan of the Hollywood casting director that they created a character for her to play. And here’s another fun fact: she also used to work as a burlesque dancer!
19. Oscar Nunez had big reservations about the show
It’s hard to tell how well a show will be received until it’s had at least one season under its belt. And so when Oscar Nunez landed a part in The Office, he stuck with his waiter and babysitting jobs just in case things didn’t work out. He told The Hollywood Reporter in 2013: “I didn’t think an American version could do justice to what Ricky Gervais did, but it’s a job and I’ll do the pilot.”
18. Rainn Wilson put a fellow cast member in the hospital
Leslie David Baker got more than he bargained for during filming of the episode Beach Games. Because while shooting one scene, Rainn Wilson mistakenly punted some sand into his eye, leaving the actor with a scratch on his cornea. And after he was rushed to the hospital, Baker then had to have his eyeball cleaned out. Lovely.
17. Sworn enemies on-screen, best friends off-screen
Angela and Pam might not have seen eye-to-eye during much of the show’s run, but that couldn’t be further from the truth for the two actresses in real-life. Angela Kinsey and Jenna Fischer are best friends and have even taken to Instagram to post sweet messages to each other. Aww!
16. Several established actors tried out for the part of Dwight
The role of Dwight was certainly hotly contested, with some big name performers auditioning for the part. Among them were Seth Rogen, Judah Friedlander and Patton Oswalt. Ultimately, of course, Rainn Wilson beat them out and went on to brilliantly portray Michael Scott’s bizarre sidekick.
15. An unexpected smooch
It goes without saying just how unpredictable Steve Carell can be, but perhaps his funniest spontaneous moment was when he gave Oscar a little lip-service. Yes, in the episode Gay Witch Hunt, the awkward kiss between Michael and Oscar was an impromptu move by Carell. Just check out the rest of the cast’s faces – their shocked expressions say it all.
14. A crossover between The Office and Parks and Recreation almost happened
Ever watched Parks and Recreation and thought that its style was uncannily similar to that of The Office? Well, you’re not the only one. In fact, Parks was also intended to be a spin-off of The Office. The original plan was that a broken copy machine on The Office would be refurbished and make its way into the Parks and Recreation office. However, in the end, the producers decided against linking the two shows.
13. One cast member got behind the camera for the opening credits
You’d be mistaken for thinking that John Krasinski only worked in front of the camera: turns out he worked behind it too. Those shots you see during the intro? Yeah, that was the handiwork of Krasinski, who actually filmed the opening credits with some mates.
12. Jim and Pam were almost an African American couple
It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the Jim and Pam roles now, but did you know that the pair were originally conceived of as an interracial couple? Yes, show developer Greg Daniels told TV Guide: “I had a version in mind in which Pam was African American and so was [her boyfriend] Roy.”
11. Steve Carell went into the show with fresh eyes
Funnyman Steve Carell took a huge risk when approaching the Michael Scott character. In fact, despite the fact that the show is heavily indebted to it, Carell decided not to watch the British version, so as not to be too influenced by it. And although his tactic ultimately paid off, Carell he did receive some initial criticisms. The Washington Post, for example, called his performance in the pilot “no match for the wonderful Ricky Gervais.” Hmm, the jury’s still out on that one.
10. Creed was a rock star in the ’60s
Creed is hands down one of the best (and most peculiar) characters on the show, but did you know that the actor who played him was actually successful in the music industry 40 years prior? Yes, Creed Bratton was the lead guitarist for ’60s rock group The Grass Roots, and he enjoyed a good run before his eccentric turn in The Office.
9. Steve Carell had a ball phoning in sick during the writers’ strike
It’s no surprise that Steve Carell was side-splittingly funny on the show, but it appears he was just as hilarious off-set too. For example, as a way of supporting the 2007 writers’ strike, the actor phoned in sick to NBC with a case of “enlarged balls.” Now that’s literally a ballsy move.
8. B.J. Novak and Mindy Kaling dated in real-life
As Sam and Kelly, B.J. Novak and Mindy Kaling had one of the most complicated relationships on the show. However, it turns out the two have a similarly complicated relationship in real-life as well. They dated in the past but split up because of their constant arguing. But in 2016 Novak told The Observer, “We’re very close in sort of a natural, eternal way.”
7. It still flies the British flag
The U.S. Office was very successful in creating its own identity, but it didn’t forget its origins either. Because if you look closely, in certain scenes you can see a flag of the Union Jack placed on Michael Scott’s desk – a nice little homage to its British forefather.
6. A Dwight spin-off was in the works
Fans of the show will know just how hilarious Dwight was, so the prospect of him having his own spin-off entitled The Farm was certainly an intriguing one. However, the idea was sadly scrapped in 2012 by NBC, a decision which Rainn Wilson puts down to bad timing. In 2013 he told TV Guide, “It doesn’t fit in with the current administration at NBC. I don’t think they cared for it very much.”
5. Things got off to a bad start
Of all the auditions conducted for the show, John Krasinski’s had to be the worst. First off, he insisted that he read for the role of Jim and not Dwight. The casting directors, however, rather unceremoniously replied, “this dude’s done nothing, he’s lucky to be coming in.” Secondly, he went into a long diatribe about how he didn’t care whether he got the part or not – to the executive producer Greg Daniels. And yet somehow, the rest of the audition went great and he got the part.
4. Rashida Jones couldn’t control herself on set
Poor Rashida Jones was put in a tough position when she came on board as Jim’s temporary love interest. The daughter of Quincy Jones had a hard time holding back her laughter at Steve Carell’s bonkers improvisational skills, so much so that she thought she was going to be given the boot. She told The Hollywood Reporter in 2013, “I seriously thought I was going to be excused, I was guffawing while they were rolling.”
3. Three of the main cast interned with Conan O’Brian
Before they became Dunder Mifflin employees, three cast members were actually interns on Late Night with Conan O’Brian. Yes, John Krasinksi, Mindy Kaling and Ellie Kemper all worked for the talk show host before cementing their positions on The Office.
2. One cast member picked up a Writers Guild Award
It’s worth pointing out just how hands-on a lot of the cast were with pitching in and guiding the show. And one such cast member was Steve Carell, who actually penned two episodes himself. He proved to be pretty good at it too, and even received a Writers Guild of America Award for Television for the 2006 episode Casino Night.
1. Scranton embraced the show
Scranton certainly appreciated The Office thanks to the huge exposure it brought to the city. The Scranton Chamber of Commerce were so appreciative, in fact, that they actually made Dunder Mifflin a genuine member of the Chamber, completely blurring the lines between reality and fiction.