‘The Office’: 1 Dunder Mifflin Star Had a ‘Nightmare’ Audition For a Starburst Commercial
Each cast member of The Office still holds a special place in viewers’ hearts all these years later. After leaving Netflix for Peacock, it’ll have more time to shine. Some of the actors had previous improv experience while others participated in various other scripted auditions before landing their roles. One of which read for a Starburst commercial and — thankfully — didn’t get the job.
Will Ferrell made 1 star from ‘The Office’ break character
Before Steve Carell made his exit from The Office, celebrity guest stars occasionally joined the usual crew. Between Idris Elba, James Spader, and the many others, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Will Ferrell is among those that fans least expected to make an appearance — then stay for multiple episodes.
Ferrell’s character, Deangelo Vickers, starred in four episodes in 2011 and came with mixed fans reactions. Viewers didn’t totally understand Ferrell’s character. But The Office co-star, Zach Woods (who played Gabe Lewis from 2010-2013), couldn’t hold it together when working with Ferrell.
“When I was a kid, I used to watch Will Ferrell sketches, and I always felt annoyed when people would laugh,” Woods told Entertainment Weekly. “And then the first TV show I ever did was The Office, and he did The Office for a while and I realized it’s like such an empathy-bestowing experience.”
He continued, saying, “Will Ferrell is almost predatorily funny; he can smell the blood in the water. I was terrified.”
Woods explained that Ferrell improvised scenes and Woods would break character — much like those that annoyed him growing up.
“He has the most finely tuned antenna: He zeroes in on you and just puts more and more weight on you until you can’t handle it and fall to pieces. I remember shooting that show and being like, ‘Oh, I see. It’s not a choice,'” he said.
The ‘nightmare’ Starburst audition that Woods didn’t land
A lot of actors have had their fair share of bad auditions. Woods’ experience, happened when he was already in a “bleak place.” He’d been living in a New York basement apartment at the time.
“I went to this audition and it was for Starburst and they said, ‘Listen, here’s what you’re going to do: You’re going to take off your shirt and put on this Rastafarian wig and a woman’s going to come in who is also auditioning and you’re going to unwrap a Starburst and feed it to her,'” he told to Chicago Tribune.
“And I’m thinking: OK, this sounds like a nightmare — definitely for the poor woman who has to come in and be fed a Starburst by this cave-dwelling pale praying mantis. But that was the deal.”
He explained that he has pectus excavatum, “which is like this indentation or a concave area of my chest,” but took off his short anyway.
“I saw the casting agent’s eyes go down to this indentation in my chest and register a completely undisguised look of horror. And I was like, OK, I’m not getting this part,” he said.
“So this woman comes in and like a champ she’s like, OK I’ll eat the Starburst from this strange-chested boy. And then she left and the casting director was like, ‘You know, actually, there’s not enough guys here. So would you mind just sticking around and doing that again?’ And I was like, ‘Um, OK.’”
Woods stuck around for half-an-hour “feeding women Starbursts” even though he knew he didn’t land the part.
“I don’t know if I had clearly articulated thoughts in my head while this was happening, I think it was more just a white noise of panic in my ears,” he said.
“It was the ‘Try Not To Be Creepy Olympics’. I knew this was going to be horrifying — like when the plane is going down? This was like an emotional plane crash.”
Despite the situation, Woods did score another Starburst commercial “for money.”
Woods put this coping mechanism into place while starring in ‘The Office’
Once the cringe-worthy commercial situation ended, and Woods landed The Office, he realized he’d have to put a “coping mechanism” into place if he were to survive the pace of the show.
“I’d never acted on TV before, and I was pretty insecure,” he told GQ. “I remember someone saying something about the delivery. ‘The delivery was flat.’ It wasn’t anything hugely malevolent. It was just, like, Ugh, that’s in my head now.'”
He continued: “Then I would be trying to correct notes that I got from Reddit, and you’ve got 11 different directors in your head and most of them are, like, 14-year-old boys from Skokie typing at their computers.”
Needless to say, the Silicon Valley star figured it out. He went on to star in plenty of other successful projects — and took no other part in Starburst commercials ever again.