Rashida Jones Almost Quit Acting, Said ‘The Office’ Role ‘Changed My Whole Career’

Landing the role of Karen on The Office was a gamechanger for Rashida Jones. During an appearance on the Office Ladies podcast, Jones confessed that she was about to give up on acting entirely when she got the part, explaining that “it changed my whole career.”

Rashida Jones
Rashida Jones | Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Rashida Jones almost quit acting

During the August 5 Office Ladies episode, hosts Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey spoke with Jones while discussing the season 3 episode “A Benihana Christmas.”

While chatting about the process that Jones went through to get the role of Karen, she admitted that she was about to quit acting.

“It was torturous,” she said of the audition process for The Office, adding, “They really took me to the bitter end before I got the call.”

Obviously, she landed the gig and it really changed everything for her professional life. “It changed my whole career,” Jones explained. “I was like about to quit acting before I got this show, so it was a big deal for me.”

Why Rashida Jones had to audition many times

Jones was asked about how she got the role of Karen and, though she knew The Office writer/producer Mike Schur in college, the connection didn’t make the process any easier.

“I auditioned. Many, many times,” Jones said of trying to win the part. “I knew people socially before I joined the cast and I went to college with Mike Schur. We were in a play together freshman year.”

She added, “So I knew Mike and I came to know about the U.S. Office because he moved from New York and said ‘I got a job in LA and I’m gonna write the U.S. Office and I was really mad at him… because we were like, ‘how could you do that to the UK Office, my favorite show?’ How could you even try?”

RELATED: ‘The Office’: Jenna Fischer Admits She Was Jealous of These Cast Members

Rashida Jones explained how she clicked with Jenna Fischer in the audition room

Part of Jones’ audition involved seeing if she had chemistry with Fischer, who played Pam. “I auditioned many, many, many times and I remember having a distinct feeling that when I got to the point, Jenna, where you and I sat in a room and read lines together and then got to improv a little bit, everything just like made sense all of a sudden,” Jones explained.

“You know, like, it was such a cool counterpart. It made me feel like ‘Oh, I feel like I really get this dynamic,’ you know? And I feel like you kind of got me the part, in a lot of ways,” she added.

During a May episode of Office Ladies, Fischer shared her take about her chemistry with Jones. Fischer had been asked to screentest with actors auditioning for the Karen role and said Jones was her favorite.

“I just didn’t even feel like I had to work hard in my scenes with her,” Fischer explained. “I effortlessly felt this chemistry between Pam and Karen. I knew who Pam and Karen were and who they were going to be.”

She added, “I didn’t think they would necessarily care who I thought was the person I responded the most to, but it made me so excited when she was cast.”