We can’t say for sure whether The Office is Netflix’s most bingeable series, but we also can’t say that it isn’t. It’s certainly up there — and we’re not the only ones who think so. Throughout it’s nearly ten-year run, the series nabbed multiple awards, including Steve Carell’s Golden Globe win, the ensemble cast’s two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the show’s whopping 42 Emmy nominations plus five wins. It also gave us the boss we’d probably never want to have: Carell’s own Michael Scott.
While fans of the show are well aware of Dunder Mifflin’s undeniable HR violations (seriously, the hiring of Dwight Schrute alone proved to be a recurring liability), it turns out this TV series’ cast also has a dark side. Indeed, these actors have lived through a lot of drama, because — as one would expect — it’s about as easy to make it in Hollywood as it is to succeed in the paper industry of Scranton, Penn.
From Jenna Fischer almost quitting acting before Jim and Pam could become #CoupleGoals to Rainn Wilson’s various on-set catastrophes, these dark secrets of the cast of The Office will reveal deeper layers of the people person’s paper people.
Jenna Fischer almost called it quits on acting
Nearly a decade before Jenna Fischer scored the role of Dunder Mifflin’s very own receptionist, Pam Beesly, she almost quit acting. In 2017, the actress wrote in a piece for The New York Times that she’d moved from her hometown of St. Louis to Los Angeles after earning her theater degree, but blew through her savings in just six months. “My car engine had blown up and my cat was so depressed he was licking out patches of his fur,” she went on, admitting that she also ultimately failed to book a single acting job in her first year out west. Eventually, Fischer picked up a day job as a real-life receptionist.
“I felt like a failure. The thought of quitting was constant,” the TV star continued. “But I was too embarrassed to go back to St. Louis.” One day while “wallowing in [her] depression with a giant bowl of Lucky Charms,” Fischer got the call: She’d landed her first real acting job in a low budget sex education video that was shot in an apartment bathroom. It only paid $100, but would give her enough hope to trudge forward. Eight years later, she landed The Office. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Rainn Wilson injured almost everyone on set of The Office
Dwight Schrute may have famously survived a concussion in The Office‘s season two episode, “The Injury,” but in real life, Rainn Wilson accidentally hurt those who played his on-screen coworkers. “I have literally wounded pretty much everyone in the cast,” the actor admitted in his 2015 memoir, The Bassoon King: Art, Idiocy, and Other Sordid Tales from the Band Room.
Detailing how he “hit John Krasinski in the eye and enormous nose with an icy snowball and various other desktop objects,” Wilson revealed that he “accidentally punched” Phyllis Smith (Phyllis Vance) and Brian Baumgartner (Kevin Malone) more than once, gave Angela Kinsey “debilitating bruises” by throwing her “on top of desks and car hoods” and spanking her “far too hard” during Dwight’s romantic scenes with Angela Martin, and the list goes on. However, it was poor Leslie David Baker (Stanley Hudson) who might have gotten the worst of Wilson’s clumsiness after he “accidentally kicked sand” into Baker’s eye while filming the season three “Beach Games” episode. Barker had to be “rushed to the hospital,” where he was treated for a “scratched cornea.”
“This is my chance to apologize to the entire cast,” Wilson wrote. “I’m sorry. It’s a wonder that I was never sued.”
Phyllis Smith knew her way around a G-string
Phyllis Smith might have played frumpy sales representative Phyllis Vance on The Office, but the TV star has been anything but in real life. Before she jumped into the world of acting, this multi-talent was a dancer. According to The Daily Beast, Smith used to cheerlead for the St. Louis Cardinals and later had a career as a burlesque dancer — somewhat risqué for someone we’ve long pictured as a paper saleswoman. However, she later explored the world of casting in Tinseltown after sustaining an injury that unfortunately stopped her from dancing.
While this is ultimately what led to her being cast on The Office – the producers famously developed her role after she read with other actors during the NBC series’ auditioning process — Smith’s unlikely path to Hollywood has not been lost on the actress herself. “I think Office fans are very surprised to know that I used to wear a G-string and feathers [as a burlesque dancer],” she told The Daily Beast. “In my eye I was never thin enough, but when I look back at the pictures, I’m like, ‘Oh yeah. I rocked that.'” You do you, Phyllis.
The Office gossip on Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak
Fans of The Office have long shipped Kelly Kapoor and Ryan Howard, but we’re here to dish the dirt on Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak’s complicated on-set romance. According to resident pot-stirrer Rainn Wilson, their admittedly tumultuous relationship supposedly served as inspiration for their characters’ fling on the series.
In his memoir, The Bassoon King: Art, Idiocy, and Other Sordid Tales from the Band Room, Wilson claimed he heard from “those nosy-a** writers” that Kaling and Novak were “always apparently dating, breaking up, and getting back together” between seasons three and six. Such is the nature of workplace rumors. “I would occasionally see Mindy in tears,” Wilson wrote, “and B.J. frantically gesticulating to her the way tempestuous lovers often do in various corners of the set.”
Whatever went down, the pair eventually worked it out. Wilson went on to write that these two have since remained “best friends” who “finish each other’s sentences.” Not to mention, Novak is also the godfather of Kaling’s daughter, according to Good Housekeeping.
Mindy Kaling's secret baby daddy
Mindy Kaling welcomed her first child, daughter Katherine, in December 2017. Despite the exciting baby news, The Mindy Project creator’s pregnancy came as somewhat of a shock to fans considering she didn’t appear to be dating anyone at the time (although many fans hoped the father of Kaling’s child was none other than The Office co-star B.J. Novak). Meanwhile, E! News reports that the pregnancy was allegedly “an unexpected surprise” for the TV star, as well. She previously expressed that she wanted children “maybe imminently,” but wasn’t actively planning it, telling Yahoo! Style in 2015, “I’m not cavalier about who I would have a kid with.”
While Kaling might hasn’t been too fussed about the second half of the parenting equation (she’s raising her child as a single mother), the media definitely enjoyed some speculation. Nonetheless, she’s managed to hold tightly to her decision to not reveal the identity of her daughter’s father. In an interview with The New York Times in 2019, the actress admitted that she didn’t want to tell anyone about her baby daddy until she could tell her daughter first. That’s certainly fair enough.
John Krasinski struggled on Steve Carell's last day
If you thought you got emotional when Steve Carell (Michael Scott) left The Office in 2011, just imagine how the cast felt … including one John Krasinski (Jim Halpert). The actor apparently experienced a slight emotional breakdown while taping his last scene with the Dunder Mifflin boss/patriarch.
In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2013, Krasinski revealed that his castmates were “crying all over the place” on Carell’s last day of filming. After telling his co-stars that it wasn’t a big deal because they’d see Carell again, the actor believed he’d be able to play the duo’s final scene off like a tough guy. Nonetheless, Krasinski understandably soon found himself flooded with emotions. “As soon as they called ‘action,’ nothing came out but moaning,” he told the magazine. “Two men had a complete emotional breakdown on camera. For the first four takes, I don’t think anything was usable.”
Ed Helms went under the knife
You’d never be able to see Ed Helms’ chest scar from underneath Andy Bernard’s go-to button-down shirt and sweater vest combo, but The Office star actually underwent some major surgery as a child. Helms was born with a congenital heart condition, which became an issue around the time he hit puberty. This led to him undergoing open heart surgery at the age of 13.
While spring break is a time most of us spend vacationing at Disney with our families — or, if you’re in college, maybe you took a beach vacation and spent the week nursing a massive hangover (hopefully without a Mike Tyson tattoo like Helms’ The Hangover character) — Helms spent his eight grade spring break under the knife. The operation was, thankfully, a success. “I do have a scar, and you can see it in the movie [Cedar Rapids],” he told Entertainment Weekly in 2011. “It’s a little zipper, about eight inches, that’s gotten lost in the fur. I have a natural sweater that disguises it.”
Steve Carell was a terrible mailman before The Office
Steve Carell has a lot more experience in the world of paper than you might think. Before he was a bigwig at Dunder Mifflin, this Hollywood star worked as a rural mailman to save up money ahead of his move to Chicago to become an actor. He used his own car to make deliveries … but didn’t necessarily have a knack for it.
Calling it the “hardest job” he’s ever had, Carell told 60 Minutes in 2014, “I was terrible at it — so bad.” He explained, “The first day I delivered mail, they had to go out looking for me because it was like nine at night, and I wasn’t back … I got a flat tire, so the postmaster of Littleton was out with a flashlight looking for me at night.” In an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show around that time, Carell admitted that he only lasted seven months on the job. But while the gig was probably well worth it — considering the entire trajectory of the actor’s career — not everyone ended up receiving their mail on time: Carell told 60 Minutes that he found a stack of mail under the seat of his car once he finally made it to the Windy City. Whoops!
The real reason Rashida Jones left Pixar
Rashida Jones may be better known as Parks and Recreation‘s Ann Perkins than she is for her role of Karen Filippelli on The Office. Nonetheless, the latter show helped skyrocket her to fame, and led her to eventually becoming an original writer on Toy Story 4. However, she ended up leaving Pixar with fellow original writer Will McCormack in the wake of controversy in 2017.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the duo left after Brenda Chapman, Pixar’s sole female director, was fired over creative differences and replaced with a man. At the time, they claimed in a statement that the studio had cultivated “a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice.” Jones later opened up about why she felt a responsibility to take a stand against this alleged lack of gender equality and part ways with the animation giants.
“That situation was complicated,” she told Net-A-Porter in 2018. “You look at [Pixar’s] track record and it was one woman directing one film in 25 years, and she was fired. But that doesn’t look different from most studios in Hollywood.” Jones added, “All I can be is myself, and speak up and be honest when I feel things don’t reflect the world as it today. As a corporation, you will be held accountable.”
Mindy Kaling on The Office's diversity program
There’s no doubt that Mindy Kaling possesses a rare form of humor. What exactly would The Office be without gossip queen Kelly Kapoor? Nonetheless, the Indian-American actress-writer once claimed that she “squeaked in” as a writer for the beloved sitcom “through a diversity program” … but didn’t feel so great about it earlier in her career.
In 2019, she told The New York Times Magazine that none of the other writers ever mentioned the diversity program. However, the so-called “diversity spot” went to Kaling following a run-in with a Vietnamese writer’s assistant who was up for the same position, leading the multi-talent to feel embarrassed over what felt like a “battle royale of minority people.” Kaling explained, “You have these feelings when you’re in those diversity programs — I remember being a staff writer at The Office and feeling like, everyone’s going to know about me and the diversity program, and it means that I’m not as funny as everyone else.” She added, “I wish I hadn’t felt that way.”
John Krasinski isn't Jim Halpert's biggest fan
It’s hard for a lot of us to separate John Krasinski from Jim Halpert, but the actor himself hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with his Office counterpart. When Rolling Stone asked if he found his fan-favorite character kind of annoying, Krasinski’s answer was a resounding “yeah,” if only for his positive attitude and his wasted potential. (How dare he look on the bright side and be content sitting around all day playing pranks on Dwight?)
“Jim has this idea that everything is going to be OK in his world, and that can be frustrating to people, especially his wife, when he makes snap decisions and thinks it’ll be fine in the end,” Krasinski told the magazine. (Not for nothing, but the average cynic probably did find the totally adorbs Pam-Jim story arc a little nauseating.) “He’s the underdog –- he’s not the captain of the football team, or the most handsome guy in the world,” the actor continued. “He’s content where he is, with the potential to be better, and goes completely on what he’s feeling most of the time.”
Craig Robinson's nightmare vacation
Throughout his nine seasons on The Office, the most controversial thing to happen to Darryl Philbin was finally being promoted from his blue-collar job as Dunder Mifflin’s warehouse manager to a white-collar job in the actual office. The character maintains a cool, nonchalant attitude through the whole thing and likes to just hang out and play the keyboard. He’s not really the kind of person you’d imagine getting arrested for drug possession, but that’s allegedly what happened to Craig Robinson in 2013.
According to TMZ, the actor was reportedly busted after a comedy show at the Atlantis hotel in the Bahamas. Robinson allegedly tried to “board a plane with half a gram of marijuana and 18 ecstasy pills.” He ended up pleading guilty on two counts of drug possession, with his defense being that he simply didn’t know the drugs were illegal in the Bahamas. Luckily, he managed to skirt the four years in prison he’d faced and was instead ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
However, this wasn’t the first time Robinson was allegedly busted with drugs. The gossip rag reports that the star was previously arrested in 2008 for possession of MDMA and meth. However, after “[completing] a drug diversion program,” the TV star’s charges were dropped.
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