NBC’s beloved show The Office had just about everything you could ever want in a TV show: a hysterical lead character, a relationship that was #goals (Jim and Pam forever), a supporting cast of characters that all had chances to shine on screen, and some of the funniest cold opens on television.
While you might not think working at a paper supply company in Scranton, Pennsylvania would be a dream job, the employees at Dunder Mifflin made selling paper look like fun, no matter how crazy their boss was. For nine years, the antics at Dunder Mifflin just got funnier and funnier… and funnier. Over its seven-year run on television, The Office won five Emmy awards, two SAG awards, and leading man Steve Carell won a Golden Globe for his adaptation of Michael Scott. For a show that was funny on screen, it was just as funny off-screen, as well. If you’re a superfan of The Office, you need to know these 20 fascinating behind the scenes secrets about the show!
20. John Krasinski shot the footage in the opening sequence.
When John Krasinski learned that he had been cast as Jim Halpert, he celebrated by gathering up some friends and traveling to Scranton, Pennsylvania (where Dunder Mifflin is located) to shoot some footage on his own camera just for fun. Little did he know at the time, his footage would ultimately be used in the opening sequence of the show.
19. Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak dated in real life.
Kelly Kapoor and Ryan Howard weren’t exactly relationship goals – though their relationship was charming, it was quite dysfunctional. But they surely did have great chemistry on screen. That’s because not only are Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak besties behind the camera, they even dated each other at one point! The two met on set of The Office and got romantic shortly after. While the’ve remained fairly quiet about their relationship, Mindy toldVulture, “We kind of fell in love… and then dated on and off for a couple of years, and now we are just, like, best friends.” Most recently, Mindy brought B.J. as her date to the 2018 Oscar Awards. Awww!
18. Before she was an actress, Phyllis Smith was an NFL cheerleader.
On screen, Phyllis Vance was quiet, sweet, and often times reserved compared to some of the crazier employees at Dunder Mifflin. But offscreen, Phyllis Smith was an NFL cheerleader and burlesque dancer before she landed her role on The Office! She cheered for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1970s before becoming a burlesque dancer – but it wasn’t as risque as you would think. “It was quite sexy, but no stripping or nudity,” she toldYahoo. Decades later as a casting director for The Office, the producers liked her so much they created the role of Phyllis Vance just for her.
17. John Krasinski wore a wig during season three.
If you thought Jim’s hair looked a little off during season three, that’s because it did! John Krasinski had to shave his head for the 2008 film Leatherheads about football in the 1920s. Luckily The Office producers wouldn’t let Jim Halpert shave his head, too, so John wore a wig until his hair grew back. But honestly, we all know Jim’s hair was truly at its prime for the second half of the series.16.
16. The show was almost canceled after the first season.
Fans weren’t too impressed with the show after it’s first season. In fact, NBC executives almost canceled it entirely because ratings were so low. But because the entire first season was released on iTunes, fans could re-watch the show (and those who didn’t tune in on TV could watch it online) – both of which helped the show’s popularity grow over time. It also helped that Steve Carell’s movie The 40 Year Old Virgin was released around this time which really helped his career, so more fans tuned in to The Office. Thank goodness they didn’t cancel it!
15. The cast would play games and message each other on their computers during scenes.
Early on in the series, the actors didn’t have real computers at their desks to pretend to work on. To make it look like they were busy, they were told to bring in paperwork to pretend like they were busy. But in Rainn Wilson’s book The Bassoon King, he revealed that once the actors got real computers to use, all they did was play games and message each other when they didn’t have to act. Next time you see a shot of a confessional interview with a view of some other characters “working” in the background, you can bet they’re probably messing around with each other.
14. Rainn Wilson put a fellow actor in the hospital.
While filming the episode “Beach Games” on season three, Rainn Wilson got so into the scene that he accidently kicked sand into Leslie David Baker’s eye! Production had to be stopped so they could take Leslie to the hospital to get his eye cleaned out. It turned out that the sand actually scratched his cornea. No word on what hurts more: a scratched cornea or a foot burn from a George Foreman grill (just ask Michael Scott).
13. Spin-offs for Andy and Dwight were once in the works.
Fans loved The Office so much that two potential spin-offs featuring Andy Bernard and Dwight Schrute were once in the very early stages of development. Andy’s spin-off would feature him as a suburban dad, with The Office’s Catherine Tate as the mom, in the middle of America. But once Modern Family was released, producers thought the two ideas were too similar. Then, producers considered a spin-off for Dwight called “The Farm,” which would focus on Dwight and – you guessed it – his beet farm. NBC ultimately passed on the idea, which would have required Rainn Wilson to leave part way through the series. There’s been no word of any spin-offs since then. Just a revival.
12. Michael and Oscar’s kiss was actually unscripted.
There have been a lot of iconic moments throughout the entire series, and one of them was when Michael Scott kissed Oscar Martinez during “Gay Witch Hunt” on season three to show him that it was okay to be gay. The actors were notorious for improving during scenes, and this moment was no exception! It was totally unplanned for Steve to kiss Oscar Nunez, so the reactions from the cast that you see are completely natural. Thanks to Steve’s quick thinking, that awkward kiss is now one of the most iconic scenes of The Office.
11. The Office almost crossed over with Parks and Recreation.
If you’ve seen both The Office and Parks and Recreation, you’ll know how the two shows are similar. Not only do they share the same deadpan humor and “mockumentary” style filming, it seemed like a crossover between these two beloved shows would actually be a comedic dream come true. Rumors swirled that producers did plan on having the shows crossover with a broken copy machine from Dunder Mifflin making its way to the Parks and Recreation offices in Pawnee, Indiana. Sadly, it never happened, so we only have to imagine how great it would be if Michael Scott and Leslie Knope crossed paths.
10. Jim and Pam were originally going to be an interracial couple.
Jim and Pam are one of the most beloved couples in pop culture history – but they were almost cast completely differently! One of the producers originally wanted Jim and Pam to be an interracial couple, so Erica Vittina Phillips was supposed to play Pam and Craig Robinson (who ultimately ended up as Daryl) would play Roy, though they always knew Jim and Pam would end up together in the end. But once Jenna Fischer read for the role of Pam, producers were blown away by her and her chemistry with John Krasinski. The rest is history!
9. The set was always kept cold specifically for Steve Carell.
In Rainn Wilson’s book The Bassoon King, he spilled lots of insider secrets from the set. Apparently, Steve Carell had some active sweat glands, so the set was constantly kept at a cool 64 degrees Fahrenheit just for him! Eventually, they had to invest in space heaters for the set since everyone else got so cold.
8. Jim and Pam’s proposal scene was the most expensive shot on the show.
If you didn’t get emotional during Jim and Pam’s engagement scene, you’re probably lying to yourself. The adorable moment, which was set outside a gas station in the pouring rain, was one of, if not the most expensive shots the producers ever worked on. The writers envisioned the scene in the rain with cars driving past the gas station while partially obstructing the view, but it turned out to be too expensive to fly the cast and the director to their ideal location. Instead, they built a replica set in a Los Angeles parking lot behind a Best Buy. Executive producer Greg DanielstoldThe Washington Post, “It’s the most expensive and elaborate shot we’ve ever done, but it’s also sort of the highlight of five years of storytelling.”
7. B.J. Novak and John Krasinski played little league baseball together.
B.J. Novak and John Krasinski go way back – so far back that they played on the same little league team! The two are both from Newton, Massachusetts and John revealed that he and B.J. played baseball for their team, the Orioles, before becoming pretty good friends in high school. In fact, B.J. encouraged John to try his hand at acting when he got him to star in a high school production he was working on. Who would’ve guessed that years later, they’d both end up starring on one of the most popular TV sitcoms together?
6. Michael’s real life wife, Nancy, played his realtor Carol.
While Michael Scott may have struggled with women, Steve Carell certainly didn’t. His real life wife, Nancy Carell, guest starred on The Office as Michael’s realtor and short-lived girlfriend Carol Stills. Steve and Nancy were married in 1995, and in addition to appearing on The Office together, they were also co-stars on The Daily Show as correspondents and in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. The two also co-created the series Angie Tribeca which stars Rashida Jones, who also appeared on The Office. Talk about a power couple!
5. Oscar Nunez didn’t think the show would be successful.
When Oscar Nunez was cast as Oscar Martinez, he wasn’t so sure that The Office would actually be successful (and after the show’s struggles during the first season, we can understand why). He actually didn’t even give up his jobs as a babysitter and server at first to make sure he had a backup plan in case the show got canceled. But once the show’s popularity skyrocketed after the second season, Oscar had no need to hang on to those other jobs.
4. Jenna Fischer still has the ring Jim gave to Pam.
It’s not a secret that lots of actors keep props from their sets as keepsakes or memorabilia, and this will melt the hearts of Jim and Pam lovers: in 2017, Jenna Fischer revealed on Twitter that she did in fact keep the ring that Jim gave to Pam. While Jenna and John are strictly friends in real life (they’re both happily married to other people), this makes our hearts flutter. Jim and Pam forever!
3. Michael Scott had a British flag on his desk in honor of the original British version of the show.
The US version of The Office was actually based on the original U.K. version, which aired from 2001-2003. Steve Carell actually didn’t watch much of the British version at all – he wanted his version of Michael Scott to be unique from Ricky Gervais’s portrayal of the same character. But in a few scenes shot in Michael’s office, you can spot a Union Jack flag sitting on his desk as an homage to the origins of the show.
2. Angela Kinsey had to hide her pregnancy during season four.
Angela Kinsey was pregnant during season four, but since a pregnancy wouldn’t be written in to Angela Martin’s storyline at the time, the team had to get creative to hide her her growing stomach! From standing behind boxes and copy machines and using her purse to hide her bump (especially in “The Dinner Party”), no one had an idea that Angela was expecting. She had her baby right after season four and came back for the fifth season like nothing had happened!
1. Mindy Kaling used to make up lies about the cast and crew to mess with B.J. Novak.
We already know that Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak were super close off screen, so it’s not surprising that they loved to joke around together when the cameras stopped rolling. Mindy actually constantly made up lies about their fellow cast and crew members, and B.J. would believe them! From telling him their casting director, Allison Jones, starred in the movie Cold Mountain or convincing him that the show’s producer Greg Daniels was dating an actress on the show, these two never stopped goofing around together.