“Make friends first, make sales second, make love third. In no particular order.”
These words defined Michael’s Scott and they also defined The Office, the comedy with a largely unknown ensemble cast about a company that sells paper products in Scranton, Pennsylvania. A takeoff on a high successful British series of the same name, shot in mockumentary style, ran for nine seasons between 2005 and 2013.
The Office Facts
1. Photo Creds to Jim
John Krasinski shot the footage of Scranton that appears in the show’s opening credits from his jeep when he and a few friends cased the city before he began shooting.
2. Meant to be
Jenna Fischer and John Krasinsi met for the first time during casting and there was almost immediate chemistry. The producers held a series of casting sessions with different combinations of actors playing Pam and Jim. Jenna Fischer said John Krasinski was her favourite Jim, while Krasinski responded that she was his favourite Pam. When each was offered the part, the first thing they asked was if the other got the part.
Phyllis Smith started on The Office as the casting associate, but impressed producers so much they created the role of Phyllis Vance on the show. Before that? She was a burlesque dancer and an NFL cheerleader.
4. Impressive excuse
A writer himself, Steve Carrell refused to cross the picket line during the writer’s strike in 2007. He even went so far as to call in sick, claiming “enlarged balls” were keeping him from coming in. Impressive excuse.
5. That hair
John Krasinski wowed viewers with Jim’s great hair but at one time it wasn’t even his. John Krasinski wore a wig for half of season three after shaving his head for his role in Leatherheads, a football film set in the 1920’s.
6. Improv 101 – The Kiss
In the “Gay Witch Hunt” episode, Michael Scott calls a meeting in the conference room in which he was scripted to hug Oscar. When Steve Carrell improvised by kissing Oscar Nunez, Oscar’s shock is genuine and if you look closely you can see B.J. Novak trying to hold in a laugh in the background.
7. Improv 101 – The Laugh
Sometimes the byplay between the actors was so hilarious even they couldn’t hold back a laugh. When Michael flashed Toby with his finger penis and accused him of being the flasher, you can see John Krasinski trying not to break our laughing in the background. And when Michael was dressed at Santa and made Kevin sit on his lap, you can see Mindy Kalingand and Ed Helms trying not to laugh. And finally after several shots in which the exercise ball Rainn Wilson was sitting on deflated slowly, John Krasinski stabbed a seam causing Wilson to hit the floor hard. You can see Krasinski jump out of the shot because he was cry-laughing.
8. Improv 101 – The Consolation
The Office casting team actively sought actors with improv experience, but the actors weren’t the only improv experts. In Season 4, Episode 7, titled “Money” Jim consoles a crying Dwight on the staircase only to make a break and disappear just as Dwight reaches out for him. The moment is entirely unscripted and was an improvisation by the director who motioned to Krasinski in the midst of the scene.
9. The sigh
In Season Five, Episode 1 “Weight Loss”, Jim goes to visit Pam in her dorm room and tricks the cameraman into looking the other way. The cameraman lets out an audible, unscripted and totally believable sigh just as Pam closes the door on him.
10. Improv 101 – The Quarrels
Rainn Wilson and John Krasinski often gave each other lines during Jim and Dwight’s verbal battles and many of their best character’s best lines came from each other.
11. Actors, Writers, Directors oh my!
The producers of The Office thought it was important to hire actors who could also write. B.J. Novak, Mindy Kaling, Paul Lieberstein and Michael Schur (Dwight’s cousin Moses) all wrote and produced for the series. Steve Carrell, John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, Ed Helms, and Brian Baumgartner also wrote episodes. Carrell, Wilson, Krasinski, Fischer, Novak and Helms also directed episodes.
12. High School Reunion
B.J. Novak and John Krasinski attended the same high school in Massachusetts and Ed Helms (Andy) and Brian Baumgartner (Kevin) went to high school together in Georgia.
They seemed to barely tolerate each other on the show but during their nine years together, Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey became best friends. Fischer is godmother to Kinsey’s child. Check out their Instagram photos which frequently document their current adventures together and the occasional throwback to their times together on the show.
14. More BFFs
John Krasinski and Brian Baumgartner played Madden Football together every lunch during taping. They, along with Rainn Wilson and other crew members also participated in a fantasy football league together for six seasons. Paul Lieberstein vacationed with castmate B.J. Novak in Costa Rica where he said Novak tried to kill him with a surfboard.
B.J. Novak and Mindy Kaling were best friends and dated on and off in real life and on the set. As Novak put it to New York magazine, “Is this dating? Is this not dating?” We were never really dating, we were never really not dating. We didn’t know. No one knew.” Sound familiar?
16. The Right Stuff
Producers originally wanted John Krasinski for the role of Dwight Shrute but he refused to even read for the part insisting he’d make a much better Jim Halpert. And the rest is history…
17. The Wrong Stuff
The casting directors were initially annoyed that Krasinski refused to read for the part of Dwight but even when he finally convinced them to let him read for the part of Jim. A man in the waiting room eating a salad asked him if he was nervous for the addition and Krasinski replied, “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 how 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 with the salad was Executive Producer, Greg Daniels. When he went into the room they were all still laughing at his faux pas.
18. Wired Props
The computers on the set were real and connected to the internet. Cast members confessed that they often surfed the web or answered emails while they were at their desks in the background.
19. Proud Member
The Office’s fictional company, Dunder Mifflin, is a very real member of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.
20. More Meant to Be
Angela mentions several times during the series that her favourite song is Little Drummer Boy. Is it coincidence that Dwight can be seen singing the song at his desk at the beginning of the pilot episode for the series?
21. Product Placement
In a nod to local Scranton soda maker, Crystal Club, characters are frequently seen drinking different varieties of Crystal Club soda. Jim’s favourite appears to be the cola.
22. What’s in a name?
Four of the main characters share the first names of the actors who play them: Phyllis (Phyllis Smith), Angela (Angela Kinsey), Creed Bratton (Creed Bratton) and Oscar (Oscar Nunez).
23. Froggy 101
Froggy 101, is the #1 radio station in Scranton and it’s all over The Office. Dwight has a bumper sticker for the station on his filing cabinet, it’s on the warehouse elevator, the tattoo parlour where Andy gets his tattoo, and in the bar in a scene from Michael’s movie. The Froggy 101 bumper sticker also makes an appearance as an Easter egg in the office of the boss of the telemarketing firm where Michael briefly works.
24. Dwight Revealed
Dwight appears pantless several times during the series and every time (except twice) he is wearing the same pair of green underwear. During “The Client” (Season 2, Episode 7) he has blue underwear on and in “The Baby Shower” (Season 5, Episode 4) he is wearing red.
25. What happened to Michael’s fish?
Michael keeps a fish bowl on his desk for part of Season 5 but the fish change each episode. The first fish we see is a goldfish, then in episode 2 the fish is a calico and finally in episode 3 it becomes a black fish.
26. Degrees of Toby
Paul Lieberstein is probably the most connected actor on the show. His brother, Warren, was married to Angela Kinsey for four years during the show. When Toby speaks to his brother Rory Flenderson on videochat, Rory is played by Paul’s brother Warren who is also a producer on the show. Leiberstein’s sister Suzanne is actually married to The Office creator and executive producer, Greg Daniels.
27. Dunder Mifflin Paper (By Staples)
Just as production of The Office was wrapping up, Staples, in a marketing ploy aimed at young professionals, began selling Dunder Mifflin brand paper and office supplies. The product line was guided by a single philosophy “What Would Dunder Mifflin do?” It included multicoloured sticky notes which were called, per Michael Scott, “Diversity Notes.” They also included storage boxes that adapt to a game of bean bag toss for Office Olympics and legal pads with checkboxes to record if your coworkers are alert, asleep or doing crosswords during meetings. The product launch was one of the most successful ever for Staples subsidiary Quill.com.
28. Who’s Watching
NBC executives originally believed their audience would be white collar professionals but after the series took four of the five top spots on iTumes, they realized their demographic was actually a lot younger. The series lives on in countless memes on social media and via streaming servies like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. In fact, it’s so popular that when rumour abounded in the spring that Netflix might lose the show, they faced a huge backlash and had to take to twitter to put an end to the rumors.
29. True Believers
There were a few actors who believed right from the start that the series would last. Steve Carrell went out for lunch with John Kraskinski, Jenna Fischer and Rainn Wilson shortly after they received the call and predicted that the show would last for eight years. They were close, it lasted nine.
Steve Carrell left the show after 7 seasons but was still so beloved by the cast and crew that they “retired” his number on the actor’s call sheet. Carrell was always number one on the call sheet and they never used the number again.
31. The Big Lie
Steve Carrell confessed that he lied for months – to the press, to executives, to everyone – about his participation in the final episode of The Office. The showrunners even kept the secret from NBC executives, going so far as to have Creed read Michael Scott’s lines at table script readings. Carrell’s “That’s what she said”, response to Dwight’s “I didn’t think you would come” in the wedding scene is one of the best uses off his go to phrase.
32. Who said?
“That’s what she said” is said 58 times during the course of the series, mostly by Michael Scott. It’s a bad joke but it is a hilarious caricature of all the awkward bosses we’ve had who tell bad jokes. The series spawned countless YouTube compilations of the phrase and even dozens of sites dedicated to the origin of the joke first delivered in a 1975 Saturday Night Live weekend update by Chevy Chase. Etymologists (dedicated to ruining the fun we’re having with a joke we already know is lame and love anyways) link it to the bawdy Edwardian joke “said the actress to the bishop”.
33. Too rational and smart?
Andy became the next manager because he, like Michael Scott, put people and relationships ahead of everything else. The writers originally considered promoting Darrell, but decided he was too “rational and smart” to be a manager and wouldn’t cause enough disasters.
34. Shy Guy
Actor Paul Lieberstein who played Toby and actually wrote and directed for The Office, was very shy and actually disliked being on screen. In the shows he wrote or directed, Toby is given very few or no lines to speak.
35. Poor Richard’s
Poor Richards, often visited by The Office workers, is an actual bar in Scranton. It’s inside a bowling alley and is known as the South Side Lanes Bar by locals.
36. Beet farmers in the family
Dwight became a beet farmer in a nod to The Office writer/producer Greg Daniels’ grandparents who were beet farmers in Poland.
37. All in the family
The character Carol Stills who appears in several episodes and sells Michael Scott his condominium is actually Steve Carrell’s real-life wife, Nancy Carrell.
38. More all in the family
When Pam gives birth, her lactation consultant is played by her real-life husband, Lee Kirk. Jim and Pam’s daughter Cecilia (Cece) is actually named after Pam’s real-life niece.
39. Something fishy
When Michael fell into a koi pond in Season 6, Episode 7 appropriately entitled “Koi Pond”, all of the office actors changed their onset computer screensavers to fish.
40. What’s in a name?
In “Launch Party” (Season 4, Episode 3), John Krasinski signs his own name rather than Jim Halpert’s on Meredith’s pelvic cast. Oops.
41. Baby makes three
Writers had already written Pam’s pregnancy into Season 8 when Jenna Fischer learned that she was actually pregnant.
When the series ended, Jenna Fischer kept the engagement ring that Jim Halpert gave her character Pam.
43. Dwight the Blogger
Actor Rainn Wilson actually created a blog called Shrute Farm Beets for his character Dwight.
44. Real men wear pink
Writers decided they needed a gay character in The Office for the episode Gay Witch Hunt and settled on Oscar Nunez because he happened to wear a pink shirt to the table read.
In the episode, “Moving On”, when Pam interviews for a new job her potential new boss is played by Bob Odenkirk. He was considered for the role of Michael Scott when Steve Carrell was almost prevented from taking the role by other commitments.