35 Surprising Facts About The Office

NBC
NBC

In 2005, a group of Americans were tasked with adapting Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's beloved British series The Office. They rose to the high expectations and managed to create a successful comedy that ran for nine seasons.

Here are 35 things you might not have known about the workplace sitcom.

1. B.J. NOVAK WAS THE FIRST PERSON CAST.

 Actor Mindy Kaling (L) and B. J. Novak at the world premiere of Disney’s 'A Wrinkle in Time' at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood CA, Feburary 26, 2018
Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images for Disney

The show’s producer, Greg Daniels, was inspired by his time on Saturday Night Live and wanted to hire a writer-performer. Other writer-performers who were later added include Mindy Kaling (Kelly) and Paul Lieberstein (Toby). Michael Schur, who wrote and produced the show, played Dwight’s cousin, Mose.

2. THE CAST COULD HAVE BEEN WAY DIFFERENT.

For instance, Adam Scott auditioned for the part of Jim Halpert. Seth Rogen was in the running to play Dwight Schrute. Eric Stonestreet, who is now on Modern Family, auditioned for Kevin. Before getting cast as Angela, Angela Kinsey auditioned for Pam. Bob Odenkirk was originally cast as Michael Scott but was replaced by Steve Carell when the show he’d been working on, Come to Papa, was canceled. In a late-season episode, Odenkirk played a very Michael Scott-like manager looking to hire Pam.

See Also: 12 Outrageous Fan Theories About The Office

3. JOHN KRASINSKI HAD A ROUGH AUDITION.

One reason Adam Scott could have easily played Jim: John Krasinski’s audition for The Office didn’t go too well. First of all, he was supposed to audition for Dwight, but he convinced the casting directors to let him read for the part of Jim. Secondly, he got into some trouble in the waiting room. A man eating salad in the room asked him if he was nervous. Krasinski answered, “You know, not really. You either get these things or you don't. But what I'm really nervous about is this show. 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 responded, “My name's Greg Daniels, I'm the executive producer.” Still, Krasinski managed to get the part.

4. AFTER HE GOT THE PART, JOhn KRASINSKI INTERVIEWED PAPER COMPANy EMPLOYEES for research.

John Krasinski stars in 'The Office'
NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Krasinski met with several employees at different paper companies to research his role, and he filmed a visit he took through Scranton, Pennsylvania. The footage of his trip through the city was actually used in the show’s opening credits sequence and, according to Rainn Wilson’s memoir, The Bassoon King: Art, Idiocy, and Other Sordid Tales from the Band Room, would go on to play a role in helping production with set decoration and design details.

5. PHYLLIS SMITH GOT CAST BY CASTING PEOPLE.

Phyllis was a casting agent for the show before she got the part of Phyllis. She was reading the script with some auditioning actors when director Ken Kwapis decided that she was the one who should play the role.

6. EVERYBODY NEEDED TO IMPROVISE.

Even if they weren’t writers, Daniels wanted to make sure his actors had a background in improvisation. He has said, “Improv is a good tool to make it seem more natural."

7. THEY INITIALLY STAYED CLOSE TO THE BRITISH VERSION.

Ricky Gervais stars in 'The Office'
BBC

The pilot was shot with essentially the same script as the pilot from the British show. Many viewers questioned this decision, but it had to be done considering NBC bought an adaptation. Daniels believes that the show really branched out into its own entity in the second season.

8. nO ONE WAS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE SHOW.

It was hard for the cast and crew to have faith early on. During the first season, NBC executives would bring a lot of pessimism to the set. According to Krasinski, they would say things like, “This episode is so good—unfortunately, it’s the last one we’re going to do.”

9. THEY OWE THEIR SUCCESS TO APPLE.

One thing that helped save the show was iTunes. Around the second season, when NBC made the show available on the platform, it took up four of the top five slots for downloaded television shows. That’s when the people behind the show learned that their audience skewed young, rather than the white-collar workers they thought would be watching.

10. THE CAST PICKED THE OPENING THEME SONG.

When it came to the show’s opening theme music, series creator Greg Daniels gave the cast four versions of the song and let them vote on the winner. The now-iconic song came from a demo by composer Jay Ferguson, which was then re-recorded by musician Bob Thiele Jr. and a group later dubbed The Scrantones, who made an appearance on the episode “The Booze Cruise.”

11. THEY LOST THEIR ORIGINAL THEME SONG TO HEATHER LOCKLEAR.

In 2015, Rainn Wilson revealed that a number of hit songs were given consideration for the show’s opening theme, including “Better Things” by the Kinks and “Float On” by Modest Mouse. But the one the cast really wanted was “Mr. Blue Sky” by the Electric Light Orchestra. Those plans were dashed, though, when production found out that it was already the song for the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Heather Locklear comedy, LAX.

12. tHE OFFICE'S ADDRESS IS AN HOMAGE TO THE BRITISH SHOW.

The Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin is located at 1725 Slough Avenue. That’s not a real street in the actual Scranton, Pennsylvania, though—it’s a reference to the original version of the show, which takes place in Slough, England.

13. THE COMPUTERS ON SET REALLY WORKED.

Jenna Fischer, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Ed Helms, and Ellie Kemper in 'The Office'
NBCUniversal Media

They even had Internet, which helped the cast feel like they were in a real-life office.

14. THEY LITERALLY MADE THE SHOW BRIGHTER FOR SEASON TWO.

In an attempt to boost ratings after the first season, the producers pivoted the show's style away from the British version to make Michael Scott more likable and make the episodes more optimistic. According to Novak's DVD commentary track for "The Dundies," the first episode of the second season, they also made the lights in the office brighter to help complete that tonal shift.

15. THEY ALSO RECREATED THE OFFICE SPACE FROM SCRATCH.

The show's first season was shot in a real-life office in Culver City, California, so when they transitioned to a sound stage for the second season, the crew had to rebuild it and stock it with supplies to make a perfect replica. They did make Michael's office a little bigger to accommodate cameras, and since they were on a sound stage, they could control the weather.

16. THE DOCUMENTARY CREW MAY HAVE HAD A TRAGIC REASON FOR COVERING DUNDER MIFFLIN.


NBC Universal

In the season two episode “Performance Review,” Michael reads papers from his suggestion box, including one from “Tom,” who wrote, “We need better outreach for employees fighting depression.” Then, he’s reminded that Tom killed himself. During a 2007 Office Convention, a group of writers proposed that this suicide was why the documentary crew showed up in Scranton. They wanted to document how the office was dealing with the suicide before turning to simpler storylines.

17. JIM'S FAKE-RAIN-FILLED PROPOSAL WAS EXPENSIVE.

The writers had a clear vision for how Jim’s proposal to Pam would look. They wanted to shoot it at an actual rest stop on the Merritt Parkway, but it would have cost $100,000. Plus, they wouldn’t be allowed to use fake rain, which was important to the scene. So, the crew built a replica of the Parkway and a rest stop. The shot ended up costing $250,000. Daniels described the scene as “the most expensive and elaborate shot we've ever done, but it's also sort of the highlight of five years of storytelling.”

18. YOU COULD ACTUALLY BUY DUNDER MIFFLIN PAPER.

In 2011, the company Quill.com, owned by Staples, announced that they would start selling Dunder Mifflin paper. At the time, their director of innovation explained, “Paper…is a race to the bottom as paper usage is going down. We’re looking for different pop culture phenomena and external brands that we can tie to these mundane product categories to differentiate. That’s really how initially pairing copy paper and Dunder Mifflin came about.”

19. STEVE CARELL IMPROVISED HIS KISS WITH OSCAR.


Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for CinemaCon

In the season three episode, “Gay Witch Hunt,” the script only called for a hug. Nunez recalled, “We were just supposed to hug, and he kept hugging me. 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.”

20. THE ACTORS WEREN'T THE ONLY ONES WHO WOULD IMPROVISE.

In season five, Pam closes her dorm door on a camera person, who lets out an audible sigh. That was an impromptu moment from the director of photography, Randall Einhorn.

21. sEVERAL RESTAURANTS FEATURED ON THE SHOW ARE REAL.

Remember when Michael bungled the office’s pizza order by getting pies from Pizza By Alfredo rather than the popular Alfredo’s Pizza Cafe? Well, you can head to Alfredo’s Pizza Café right now if you’d like—it’s a real place, right in Scranton. (Its similarly named competition is purely a product of Hollywood.) To get that authentic Pennsylvania feel, the show’s production incorporated real-world businesses and restaurants from the area when writing scripts. So if you want some calamari, you can go to Cooper’s Seafood, one of Kevin’s favorites. You can also swing by Poor Richard’s for a pint, or head to the Steamtown Mall, where you can see a display featuring the original burgundy “Welcome to Scranton” sign from the show’s opening credits.

22. SADLY, SCHRUTE FARMS ISN'T (BUT ITS REVIEWS ARE).

Rainn Wilson in 'The Office'
NBCUniversal Media, LLC

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Schrute Farms is a very fictional place with very real reviews on TripAdvisor—more than 1100 of them. Though all the reviews are full of obvious Office-isms, the site still covers its bases with a warning at the top that reads: “This is a fictional place, as seen on NBC's The Office. Please do not try to book a visit here.”

23. STEVE CARELL HAD HIS NUMBER RETIRED.

When Steve Carell left the show after seven seasons, he was still adored by the cast and crew. Up until that point, he had always been number one on the call sheet. So, when he left, they “retired” the number one, and it didn’t appear on the call sheet again.

24. ANDY BECAME OFFICE MANAGER IN THE FINAL TWO SEASONS BECAUSE HE'S A PEOPLE PERSON.

Lieberstein, who was showrunner at the time, said, “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.” The writers also considered promoting Darryl, but decided that he was “too rational and smart to be the manager,” so he couldn’t cause as many disasters.

25. JAMES SPADER WAS ONLY SUPPOSED TO make A CAMEO.

James Spader and Craig Robinson in The Office
Chris Haston, NBCUniversal, Inc

The writers liked him so much that they asked him to expand the role. "[Spader] has a way of taking on his character so fully, even in rehearsal, that it's changing the mood on the set,"Lieberstein said. "Everyone is discovering who they are with this new energy."

26. SHOWRUNNERS KEPT CARELL'S FINALE APPEARANCE SECRET FROM EVERYONE.

The showrunners didn't even tell network executives that Carell was going to appear in the finale. According to Daniels, “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.”

27. WE MISSED OUT ON A DWIGHT SPIN-OFF SHOW.

Thomas Middleditch and Rainn Wilson in 'The Office'
Tyler Golden, NBCUniversal

After The Office ended, Dwight was supposed to get a spinoff called The Farm on NBC, but the network passed on the show in 2012. According to Rainn Wilson, “The timing was wrong.”

28. bUT THERE WAS AN OFFICE SPIN-OFF, KINDA.

Although The Farm never happened, nor did a proposed Andy Bernard show based on An American Family, you can view Parks and Recreation as a kind of spinoff. It was developed by the same producers and was originally going to be a spinoff before Rashida Jones got cast after playing a separate character on The Office.

29. THE CPR EPISODE HELPED SAVE SOMEONE'S LIFE.

Rainn Wilson in the "Stress Relief" episode of 'The Office'
NBCUniversal

In the season 5 episode “Stress Relief,” Michael arranges a CPR training session for his staff that quickly devolves into a very Scranton-y debacle. But even if no one at Dunder Mifflin learned anything, someone at home actually did. On the show, it’s said that the chest compressions should be done to the beat of the popular Bee Gees song, “Stayin’ Alive,” and this tip helped an Office fan from Arizona perform successful CPR on a woman he found slumped over in the seat of her car. She regained consciousness after about a minute of CPR and was brought to the hospital, where she was later discharged.

30. YOU CAN SEARCH THROUGH ALL THE SHOW'S "STARES."

One of The Office’s trademarks is the way the characters would seamlessly break the fourth wall and communicate their feelings to the audience by doing nothing more than looking directly into the camera. These Office “stares” became such a hit that they even became the subject of a fansite that allows you to search through more than 800 different emotions—boredom, sadness, anger, and loneliness, to name a few—and watch a brief YouTube clip of an Office character perfectly embodying it with nothing more than a glance. Lose hours of productivity by experimenting with The Office Stare Machine here.

31. Steve CARELL ISN'T INTERESTED IN JOINING A REBOOT.

Though the show is always the subject of reboot rumors, Steve Carell has said on multiple occasions that bringing back The Office isn’t on his mind, telling Esquire: "Because The Office is on Netflix and replaying, a lot more people have seen it recently. And I think because of that there's been a resurgence in interest in the show, and talk about bringing it back. But apart from the fact that I just don't think that's a good idea, it might be impossible to do that show today and have people accept it the way it was accepted 10 years ago."

32. MICHAEL HAS A DIFFERENT FISH IN EACH EPISODE OF THE "mICHAEL SCOTT PAPER COMPANY" ERA.

Steve Carell in 'The Office' (2005)
NBCUniversal, Inc.

He starts with a goldfish and ends up with a black beta. Maybe he's not good at keeping fish alive? At least it's good practice for falling into a koi pond.

33. SEVERAL OFFICE STARS INTERNED FOR CONAN O'BRIEN.

Obviously cutting your teeth with a comedy legend like Conan O'Brien helps when you're starring in your own show. Mindy Kaling (1999), John Krasinski (2000), and Ellie Kemper (2005) were all interns for the NBC late night host before hitting it big.

34. EVERY EPISODE COULD HAVE BEEN AN HOUR LONG.

According to Nunez, the cast and crew always shot "tons" of footage. A lot of it ended up as DVD extras, but the actor claimed that each episode could have been much longer. "Even the awkward scenes, where nothing is happening, where everyone is just uncomfortable, could go on longer and become even funnier, because the level of discomfort just rises," he said.

35. PAM AND MICHAEL HAD A GENUINE GOODBYE.

Actor Steve Carell, actor B.J. Novak, actor John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, actor Rainn Wilson poses in the press room after winning "Outstanding Comedy Series" for "The Office " at the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on August
Cast members of The Office after winning an Emmy for "Outstanding Comedy Series" in 2006
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

For their goodbye scene at the airport in Carell’s last episode, Jenna Fischer was told by production to, “Just say whatever you would want to say to Steve. Just say goodbye and we'll tape it and when you're finished, just give each other a hug and go your separate ways.’” Fischer later revealed in 2018 that, “Those were real tears and a real goodbye.”

10 Bold Breaking Bad Fan Theories

Bryan Cranston as Walter White and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad.
Bryan Cranston as Walter White and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad.
Ben Leuner, AMC

It’s been nearly six years since Breaking Bad went out in a blaze of gunfire, but fans still haven’t stopped thinking about the award-winning crime drama. What really happened to Walter White in the series finale? What’s the backstory on Gus Fring? And what did Jesse Pinkman’s doodles mean?

While El Camino, Vince Gilligan's new Breaking Bad movie, offers definitive answers to at least one of these questions, these fan theories offer some alternative answers—even if they strain the limits of logic and sanity along the way. Read on to discover the surprising source of Walt’s cancer diagnosis, and why pink is always bad news.

1. Walter White picks up traits from the people he kills.

Walter White is an unpredictable guy, but he’s weirdly consistent on one thing: After he kills someone, he kind of copies them. Remember how Krazy-8 liked his sandwiches without the crust? After Walt murdered him, he started eating crustless PB&Js. Walt also lifted Mike Ehrmantraut’s drink order and Gus Fring’s car, leading many fans to wonder if Walt steals personal characteristics from the people he kills.

2. Gus Fring worked for the CIA.

Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and Juan Bolsa (Javier Grajeda) in Breaking Bad
Giancarlo Esposito and Javier Grajeda in Breaking Bad.
Ursula Coyote, AMC

Who was Gus Fring before he became the ruthless leader of a meth/fried chicken empire? Well, we know he’s from Chile. We also know that any records of his time there are gone. And we know that cartel kingpin Don Eladio refused to kill him when he had the chance. Since Don Eladio has no qualms about eliminating the competition, Gus must have some form of protection. Could it be from the U.S. government? A detailed Reddit theory suggests that Gus was once a Chilean aristocrat who helped the CIA install the dictator Augusto Pinochet in power. Once Pinochet became a liability, Gus went to Mexico at the CIA’s behest to infiltrate a drug cartel. His alliance with U.S. intelligence kept him alive even as his work got more violent, and helped him bypass the normal immigration issues you'd typically encounter when you’ve murdered a bunch of people.

3. Madrigal built defective air filters that gave Walter white cancer.

Madrigal Electromotive is a corporation with varied interests. The German parent company of Los Pollos Hermanos dabbles in shipping, fast food, and industrial equipment … including air filters. According to one fan theory, Gray Matter—the company Walter White co-founded with Elliott Schwartz—purchased defective air filters from Madrigal and installed them while Walt still worked at the company. The filters ultimately caused Walt’s lung cancer, pushing him into the illegal drug trade and, eventually, business with Madrigal.

4. Color is a crucial element in the series.

Marie Schrader (Betsy Brandt) and Hank Schrader (Dean Norris)
Betsy Brandt and Dean Norris as Marie and Hank Schrader in Breaking Bad.
Ben Leuner, AMC

Color is a code on Breaking Bad. When a character chooses drab tones, they’re usually going through something, like withdrawal (Jesse) or chemo (Walt). Their wardrobe might turn darker as their stories skew darker—like when Marie ditched her trademark purple for black while she was under protective custody. Also, pink signals death, whether it’s on a teddy bear or Saul Goodman’s button down shirt.

5. Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead exist in the same universe.

Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead both aired on AMC, but according to fans, that’s not all they have in common. There’s an exhaustive body of evidence connecting the two shows—and one of the biggest links is Blue Sky. The distinctively-colored crystal meth is Walt and Jesse’s calling card on Breaking Bad, but it’s also Merle Dixon’s drug of choice on The Walking Dead. Coincidentally, his drug dealer (“a janky little white guy” who says “bitch”) sounds a lot like Jesse.

6. Walter white froze to death and hallucinated Breaking Bad's ending.

Bryan Cranston in the 'Breaking Bad' series finale
Ursula Coyote, AMC

In her review of the Breaking Bad series finale “Felina,” The New Yorker critic Emily Nussbaum suggested an alternate ending in which Walt died an episode earlier, as the police surrounded his car in New Hampshire. He could’ve frozen to death “behind the wheel of a car he couldn’t start,” she theorized, and hallucinated the dramatic final shootout in “Felina” in his dying moments. This reading has gained traction with multiple fans, including SNL alum Norm Macdonald.

7. Jesse’s superheroes are a peek into his inner psyche.

In season 2 of Breaking Bad, we discover that Jesse Pinkman is a part-time artist. He sketches his own superheroes, including Backwardo/Rewindo (who can run backwards so fast he rewinds time), Hoverman (who floats above the ground), and Kanga-Man (who has a sidekick in his “pouch”). The characters are goofy, just like Jesse, but they may also reveal what’s going on in his head. Backwardo represents Jesse’s tendency to run from conflict. Hoverman reflects his lack of direction or purpose, while Kanga-Man hints at his codependency.

8. Madrigal was founded by Nazi war criminals.

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Uncle Jack (Michael Bowen) in 'Breaking Bad'
Bryan Cranston and Michael Bowen in Breaking Bad.
Ursula Coyote, AMC

This might be one of the wilder Breaking Bad theories, but before you write it off, consider Werner Heisenberg: The German physicist, who helped pioneer Hitler’s nuclear weapons program, is the obvious inspiration for Walt’s meth kingpin moniker. While Heisenberg only appears in name, there are plenty of literal Nazis on the show. Look no further than Uncle Jack and the Aryan Brotherhood, who served as the Big Bad of season 5. At least one Redditor thinks all these Nazi references are hinting at something bigger, a conspiracy that goes straight to the top. The theory starts in South America, where many Nazis fled after World War II. A group of them supposedly formed a new company, Madrigal, through their existing connections back in Germany. Eventually, a young Chilean named Gus Fring worked his way into the growing business, and the rest is (fake) history.

9. Walter white survived, but paid the price.

Lots of Breaking Bad theories concern Walt’s death, or lack thereof. But if Walt actually lived through his seemingly fatal gunshot wound in “Felina,” what would the rest of his life look like? According to one Reddit theory, it wouldn’t be pretty. The infamous Heisenberg would almost certainly stand trial and go to prison. Although he tries to leave Skyler White with information to cut a deal with the cops, she could also easily go to jail—or lose custody of her children. The kids wouldn’t necessarily get that money Walt left with Elliott and Gretchen Schwartz, either, as they could take his threats to the police and surrender the cash to them. Basically it amounts to a whole lot of misery, making Walt’s death an oddly optimistic ending. (This is one theory El Camino addresses directly.)

10. Breaking Bad is a prequel to Malcolm in the Middle.

Bryan Cranston in the series premiere of 'Breaking Bad'
Bryan Cranston in the series premiere of Breaking Bad.
Doug Hyun, AMC

Alright, let’s say Walt survived the series finale and didn’t stand trial. Maybe he started over as a new man with a new family. Three boys, perhaps? This fan-favorite theory claims that Walter White assumed a new identity as Malcolm in the Middle patriarch Hal after the events of Breaking Bad, making the show a prequel to Bryan Cranston’s beloved sitcom. The Breaking Bad crew actually liked this idea so much they included an “alternate ending” on the DVD boxed set, where Hal wakes up from a bad dream where "There was a guy who never spoke! He just rang a bell the whole time! And then there was another guy who was a policeman or a DEA agent, and I think it was my brother or something. He looked like the guy from The Shield."

Fan Notices Hilarious Connection Between Joaquin Phoenix's Joker and Superbad's McLovin

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

There seems to be exactly one funny thing about Todd Phillips's latest film, Joker.

As reported by Geek.com, someone on Twitter by the name of @minalopezavina brilliantly pointed out that Arthur Fleck from Joker and McLovin from Superbad are pretty much in the same costume.

This meme is a nice moment of comic relief in an otherwise very serious movie. In fact, Joker is so dark that the United States Army had issued warnings about possible shootings at theaters playing the film. The warnings coincided with criticisms that the film might be too violent, with fears that the villain-led storyline would result in copycat events in real life.

Both Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix have weighed in on the controversy, with the director explaining to The Wrap, "It wasn’t, ‘We want to glorify this behavior.’ It was literally like ‘Let’s make a real movie with a real budget and we’ll call it f**king Joker’. That’s what it was.”

All we can say is the amount of chatter behind Joker certainly led to both packed theaters, and endless memes online.

[h/t Geek.com]

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