With perfect cold opens, a strong ensemble cast and one of the best on-screen relationships in television history, it makes sense that The Office won five Emmys, two SAG Awards and a Golden Globe because it just kept getting funnier and more poignant as the years progressed. It’s hard to imagine anything about The Office being different because of the ease and whimsy embedded into the shows DNA, but some parts of the show were almost very different. Read on, superfans, to learn some The Office behind-the-scenes secrets from the greatest comedy on television.
Unlikely heartthrob John Krasinski shot the footage for what would become The Office's opening sequence during a celebratory trip to Scranton, Pennsylvania. After learning he'd been cast in the role of Jim Halpert, Krasinski and some friends took a trip to the town where Dunder Mifflin is located just for fun, not knowing that his footage would end up becoming the show's opening sequence for all nine seasons.
Kelly Kapoor and Ryan Howard's dysfunctional relationship didn't go quite as well as the friendship that blossomed between Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak. The couple dated on and off for years before settling into best friendship. Their love was epic and complicated, but the two have described each other as "soup snakes" — that's Office speak for soulmates. B.J. was even Mindy's date to the 2018 Academy Awards.
Phyllis Smith had the role of Phyllis Vance created just for her while she was a casting director for The Office, but she couldn't be more different from her character. While Vance is soft-spoken and reserved, Smith cheered for the St. Louis Cardinals during her youth in the 1970s and later became a burlesque dancer. While Smith is quick to clarify that she never stripped, her life before acting is something Phyllis Vance would never dream.
Jim's adorable mop of hair was a little more moppish than usual on season three. John shaved his head for the 2008 film Leatherheads, which focused on the early years of American football through the story of a decorated war hero. Because the writers wouldn't let Jim shave his head, too, John had to wear a wig until his hair grew back.
Ratings were so low during its first season that The Office was almost canceled by NBC. In a move that's more common now in the streaming age, iTunes downloads of the first season after its original run allowed the show's viewership to grow over time. Combined with the success of Steve Carrell's The 40 Year Old Virgin, ratings were high enough in the second season to propel the show into eventual worldwide success. Unfortunately, the original UK series didn't have the same streak of luck and was canceled after only two seasons.
During the first seasons of the show, the computers in Dunder Mifflin weren't real and the actors brought in paperwork to pretend like they were busy. Rainn Wilson revealed in his book The Bassoon King that once the office was equipped with real computers, the cast spent most of their downtime playing games and messaging each other online, which ironically is probably what the characters on the show were doing as well. Next time you're watching the later seasons, remember that the "work" the actors are doing in the background is probably just AIM (may it Rest In Peace).
During the season three episode "Beach Games," Rainn got so into the scene that he kicked sand into Leslie David Baker's eye and scratched his cornea. Leslie had to be taken to the hospital and production was stopped. This is so close to something that Dwight would actually do to Stanley on the show, we're surprised it didn't end up being written onto the series. At least Leslie didn't step on a George Foreman grill.
Spin-offs based on both Dwight and Andy were considered at the height of The Office's popularity. Dwight's show would have centered around the beet farm he ran with his creepy cousin Mose, but NBC passed on the pilot because it would have required Rainn to leave The Office at the peak of its popularity. Andy's spin-off would have costarred Catherine Tate as the couple raised children in suburban Middle America, but it was scrapped after the release of Modern Family because the ideas were too similar. While it doesn't look like we'll be getting an Office spin-off anytime soon, there's always hope for a revival.
Steve and Oscar Nunez were notorious improvisers on the show, and their iconically awkward kiss during the season three episode "Gay Witch Hunt" was an example of Steve's quick thinking. The reactions from the cast were completely genuine, because even Michael Scott didn't know the kiss was going to happen until he was feeling it in the moment. That scene is now remembered as one of the most iconic moments of the show.
Parks and Recreation's first season had a much darker tone than the show overall. This is because Parks was originally imagined as an extension of the universe seen on The Office, and members from Dunder Mifflin were supposed to make their way to Pawnee to fix a broken copy machine. Avid viewers of both shows will notice the parallels between Parks' darker, pessimistic tone in its first season and the general tone of The Office, but ironically, Parks also received some mixed reviews in its early days that forced them to switch gears into their later light, loving tone. The planned crossover is also the reason both shows share a mockumentary format, but after Parks changed its aesthetic, the idea was abandoned.
When creating the show, producers intended for black actress Erica Vittina Phillips to play Pam opposite John's portrayal of Jim. The couple was always endgame to the production team, and when Jenna Fischer read for the role of Pam, her chemistry with John led them to reorganize the cast. Craig Robinson, originally cast as Roy, would become Daryl, Jenna portrayed Pam and Erica ultimately wasn't cast on the show. While John and Jenna's chemistry was legendary, it would have been nice to see more diversity for main characters on television in the mid-'00s.
Because of Steve's overactive sweat glands, the set was constantly kept at 64 degrees Fahrenheit just for him. Eventually, the show had to invest in space heaters for the rest of the cast to combat the unbearably cold temperatures, which is an unusual problem to have in sunny Southern California where the show was filmed. Maybe the frigid temperatures helped the actors get into character as Pennsylvania residents during the colder months of the year.
The Office's main story line really culminated on the fifth season episode "Weight Loss," when Jim proposes to Pam at a gas station in the pouring rain with cars driving past to partially obstruct the view. Because it was too expensive to fly the cast to their ideal location, a replica set had to be built behind a Best Buy in a Los Angeles parking lot. Executive producer Greg Daniels explained that it was worth the expense and the elaborate set up because it was the culmination of five years of storytelling on the series.
B.J. and John grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, and played on the same little league baseball team before becoming friends in high school. B.J. was a large part of the reason John began acting because he encouraged John to get involved in one of his high school productions. In nothing less than a massive coincidence, the childhood pals both ended up on The Office, although B.J. was originally only hired as a staff writer along with Mindy Kaling.
Michael Scott's short-term girlfriend and realtor was played by Steve's real life wife, Nancy! The couple have been married for 22 years and have collaborated on multiple projects including The Daily Show, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, and Angie Tribeca, which they created and produce. Clearly, Steve Carrell is nothing like his character Michael Scott, because Michael would never be able to have a healthy relationship like Nancy and Steve's. The two are a low-key power couple, and we'd love to see them on-screen together again soon.
During the show's struggling first season, Oscar was so skeptical about The Office's longevity that he kept his jobs as a babysitter and a waiter to make sure he had a backup plan in the event of the show's cancellation, which is exactly the type of pragmatic thing that Oscar's character would do. Once the show's second season skyrocketed, Oscar was finally comfortable enough to quit his side hustles. We wonder how he was able to keep three jobs while keeping up with the show's filming schedule and are very impressed with his time management skills.
Jenna and John are both happily married to other people, but that doesn't mean they aren't adorable IRL too. In 2017, Jenna revealed on Twitter that she kept the wedding ring that Jim gave to Pam. While it's no secret that actors will keep props from set as memorabilia (Neil Patrick Harris famously kept an entire booth from How I Met Your Mother), Jenna's keepsake warmed our hearts. It's nice to know that the characters who portrayed our favorite on-screen couple loved them as much as we did. #couplegoals
Steve Carrell didn't watch the original version of The Office that aired in the U.K. from 2001 - 2003 and starred Ricky Gervais and Martin Freeman. Steve wanted his version of Michael Scott to be different than Ricky's take on the character, but he still kept a British flag sitting on his desk during some scenes as a nod to the show's origins. Fun fact: the British flag is only considered a Union Jack when it is being flown at sea.
Because the writers didn't want Angela Martin to have a pregnancy storyline on season four, Angela Kinsey had to conceal her baby bump during filming. With inventive camera angles and prop placement, Angela was able to hide her pregnancy from viewers and gave birth during the hiatus between seasons four and five. If you pay attention during the episode "The Dinner Party," you'll notice Angela holding her purse on her lap during most of the living room scenes to hide her stomach.
As further evidence of their off-screen connection, one of Mindy's regular pastimes on the show was telling lies about the cast and crew members to B.J. Novak in between takes, and he would actually believe them. Notable pranks include convincing B.J. that Greg Daniels was dating an actress on the show and that their casting director, Allison Jones, was the lead from the movie Cold Mountain. Now that's a storyline right out of The Office!