Inside 'The Office': The Stars Look Back on 9 Seasons of Dunder Mifflin
11:03 AM PDT 5/15/2013 by Sophie Schillaci, Aaron Couch, Michael O'Connell, Stephanie Chan, Chris Godley
John Krasinski, Kate Flannery, Ed Helms, Angela Kinsey and their co-stars tell THR what they'll miss most about their characters and reminisce with favorite memories from the long-running, Scranton-set series. The NBC sitcom makes its final bow on Thursday, May 16.
"To me, this [role] was a winning lottery ticket, except with a lottery ticket you just get money. With this, you get a whole life change," Krasinski tells THR. "It's so much fun to play a character that people are watching and rooting for and loving."
Off-screen, Krasinski shared a common bond with co-star Brian Baumgartner. "For several years, John Krasinski and I spent every single lunchtime in his trailer eating lunch, playing John Madden football like boys in college. I will miss that," Baumgartner says.
Angela Kinsey as Angela
"I love my scenes in accounting," Kinsey tells THR. "Angela, Oscar and Kevin are all this misfit family. We joked that I’m the mom and Oscar’s the dad and Kevin is our idiot kid. The three of us have sat next to each other for nine years. As friends, we’ve gotten to know each other so well back there in the corner."
She also spoke of her character's affinity for Dwight. "I absolutely love doing scenes with Rainn Wilson.There’s just as spark there, and we really have a good time. We both go for it and know and trust Rainn is going to be right there with me."
Rainn Wilson as Dwight
Wilson recalls one of the show's most "magical" moments: "Dwight was heartbroken over being dumped by Angela and was incoherent and ridiculous in his grief. Jim was consoling him, and told Dwight about his own heartbreak when Pam was with Roy. Dwight reaches out for Jim tearfully, but Jim had just left and Dwight's hand pathetically scrapes the wall where Jim just was. It was not a scripted moment, but came from superb direction fromPaul [Lieberstein]...That's what made our show great. The small, achingly human moments amidst the absurdity. As annoying and broad as the characters could be at times, Greg Daniels never let the grounded humanity leave the storytelling."
Kate Flannery as Meredith
Flannery, who initially auditioned for the role of Jan, recalls her first days on set: "I was told to bring paperwork because we were supposed to be busy and our computers didn't work."
And as the series draws to a close, she's sentimental about the fans, the show's "good soul" and ... her clothes? "The most comfortable wardrobe in Hollywood," she says of Meredith's outfits. "I never took that for granted"
Ed Helms as Andy
"Andy Bernard is kind of a lovable boob. He's intrinsically sweet and well-intentioned, while simultaneously a raging jackass who can't stay out of his own way,"Helms tells THR. "I love that complexity and also Andy's emotional transparency." His favorite memory? "Playing Will Ferrell's court jester. His character made Andy eat soap and pour scalding coffee on his genitals just for a laugh. It was so silly and outrageous, and Will was so much fun to work with."
Ellie Kemper as Erin
"It's so great to get any job as an actor, but to be cast in a show I loved was extraordinary," says Kemper, who originally joined for a six-episode arc at the tail-end of the fifth season.
"There are so many classic episodes, but one that always stands out for Erin is 'Secretary's Day.' I got to be directed by Steve Carell, improvise with him, and Mindy Kaling wrote it. It was the most spectacular week of my life -- and selfishly my favorite one because I got to do so many cool things."
Oscar Nunez as Oscar
Nunez had doubts about the project early on: "My first thought was, 'we'll do the pilot and that'll be the end of it.' I didn't think an American version could do justice to what Ricky Gervais did, but it's a job and I'll do the pilot. I got the job and I was excited, but I did not quit my day job. I was still waiting tables and babysitting." Since then, The Office has changed his life. "It's nice to be able to make a living doing something you would do for free. Acting, making people laugh, I'd be doing this no matter what. Every job I've had, I've gotten kicked out of because I act like an idiot. Only in this profession do you get praised for it."
Rashida Jones as Karen
"The Office was definitely what they refer to as 'my big break.' I had anxiety and insomnia for the three weeks before my season aired because I was sure people would come and egg my house for getting in between Pam and Jim," Jones tells THR. "My first day on the Scranton set, I was sure I was going to get fired because we were doing a conference room scene and Steve Carell was being so thoroughly and relentlessly funny that I couldn't stop laughing. He did something different, weird and incredible with every take. I seriously thought I was going to be excused, I was guffawing while they were rolling."
Brian Baumgartner as Kevin
"He has this perverted side that is very childlike, but ultimately his intentions are good," says Baumgartner of his "lovable" character. "The casting breakdown was 'the only thing remarkable about Kevin is that he is remarkably unremarkable,'" he recalls, but as the series would develop, so would the character. "Thankfully, the writers stared writing for me. It evolved and we found new ways Kevin excelled that you wouldn’t expect: He was in a band, he won a World Series of Poker tournament, he was good at basketball. There were all of these moments where he was the idiot savant instead of the idiot."
Phyllis Smith as Phyllis
"I have had the time of my life playing Phyllis Lapin Vance," Smith tells THR. "The Office experience is one that will never be duplicated on television. We were ahead of our time when we started with the unconventional awkward pauses and silences, and no canned laughter telling the audience when they should be laughing. Instead, we allowed the audience to make their own choices of what they thought was funny. I loved every minute of our nine years together and feel very blessed to have been part of the ensemble of The Office."
Craig Robinson as Darryl
"Getting to work with Steve Carell and getting to spar with him -- that prepared me for any comedy role I can do," Craig Robinson,currently starring in Tyler Perry's Peeples, tells THR.
Creed Bratton as Creed
"Don't get me wrong, I love him, but he's exhausting," Creed Bratton tells THR of his character. "It's tiring to maintain that frenetic energy."
His favorite moment on the show? "I like the deleted scene from season two, the 'Booze Cruise' where I play the guitar. That was a fun thing because I got to play."
Melora Hardin as Jan
"I loved playing Jan, and when I say 'playing Jan,' that’s really what I mean. She was just so, damn, fun to 'play,'" Melora Hardin tells THR. "I had some awesome lines like, 'What did I just tell you about yeppers, Michael?' I got to dance, kiss, brood, boss, bully, smoke and laugh, and I got the most famous boob job on TV!"
"I loved her and got inside of her, and, complex and crazy as she was, I will miss her very much," she adds. "Simply put, Jan Levinson was a great ride. Uhh ... I can’t resist ... That’s what she said!"
Leslie David Baker as Stanley
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, one of Stanley’s looks can only be classified as priceless,” Baker says. “Stanley Hudson was the embodiment of many workers in America, both male and female. Creating the nuances of the character was fun and challenging in that much of his very being was grounded in his ability to editorialize any given situation, much of the time without uttering a single word.” His favorite memory: "The night we won the Emmy. We stood locked arm-in-arm in a hail of camera lights going off -- totally blinded -- realizing that we had done it. We had captured the television audience with our show."
Mindy Kaling as Kelly
"I loved that atmosphere. Greg Daniels loves actors, and he really loves their input -- and so do I," Kaling says of her former showrunner, who she's tried to emulate on her own series, Fox's The Mindy Project. "I love hyphenates. When there are writers on the floor and actors in the room, it makes everything better. I copied a lot of that from my experience at The Office."
Steve Carell as Michael Scott
Steve Carell has declined to make any public comments about the series finale, reportedly in an effort not to overshadow his former co-stars.
In a 2012 THR cover story, Carell said he had planned to exit the series after the seventh season ever since renewing his contract during the third: "I was always assuming I'd leave after that season was done. Everyone was well aware of that. I owed the show a lot and I loved doing it, but you have to take risks." Even so, he choked up speaking about it.
Jenna Fischer as Pam
"The Office is my life," says Fischer in a behind-the-scenes video posted by NBC. "The role of Pam couldn't be done unless I had the right partner and at the audition, I knew that [John Krasinski] was my teammate."
Paul Lieberstein as Toby
The Office marked Lieberstein's first on-screen role as human resources guru and Michael Scott nemesis, Toby Flenderson. He was initially hired as a writer and co-executive producer for the show.
B.J. Novak as Ryan
Novak returns to the series finale as Ryan, the temp-turned-boss-turned-temp. Novak served as a co-executive producer for the hit series and has written many of the show's most memorable episodes, including "Diversity Day," "Sexual Harassment," "The Fire," "Initiation," "Boys and Girls," "Chair Model," "Safety Training," "Dream Team" and "Local Ad."