‘The Office’: 1 Story From Jenna Fischer’s Childhood Inspired This Heartbreaking Pam Beesly Moment
Working on The Office was a collaborative effort, and sometimes the actors used memories from their childhood to influence their roles. Jenna Fischer remembers when one of her favorite stories as a child became one of the saddest moments for Pam Beesly on The Office.
‘The Office’ cast influenced the show as much as the writers
Executive producer Greg Daniels called Fischer at home one night while they were in the process of shooting the pilot. “I thought he was going to fire me — I really did,” Fischer admitted during a panel at the Paley Center for Media in 2009. According to Fischer, executive producers don’t call actors at home the night before a shoot “unless it’s bad.”
But when Daniels called, it wasn’t with bad news. Instead, he wanted Fischer’s input.
Jenna Fischer influenced Pam from ‘The Office’
During their call, Fischer remembered Daniels discussing her talking heads scheduled to be shot the following day. Daniels wanted her to talk about Pam’s relationship and background with Roy (David Denman). From how they met to how they started dating, Daniels valued Fischer’s input for her role.
Fischer also mentioned Daniels saying he didn’t want to “give her any ideas.” Instead, he wanted her to come in with her own ideas for Pam and Roy.
Ironically, Fischer had a “Book of Pam” that detailed notes about her backstory already prepared. From then on, Fischer knew she was on a “really special show” whenever anyone asked for her input.
“[I knew I was in a place] that valued actor’s input,” she explained during the panel. “We were brought into the creative process right from the beginning, and we still do that,” she added.
Jenna Fischer’s favorite childhood story inspired Pam Beesly’s dream of having a terrace
There were many other instances Fischer was asked for her input on Pam Beesly. Once, writer, actor, and producer B.J. Novak asked Fischer if there was a significant story from her childhood that “could lead into a Pam story.”
Fischer recalled reading a choose-your-own-adventure book about a girl who had a tower in her house. “It made me always want a house with a tower,” Fischer explained.
Novak took this information and incorporated it into a moment that broke many Office fans’ hearts. In the “Boys and Girls” episode of season 2, Jan (Melora Hardin) hosts a “Women in the Workplace” seminar. When Jan suggests Pam should go to graphic design school, Pam says she’ll think about it. Jan replies: “There are always a million reasons not to do something.”
Later, during one of Pam’s talking heads, she makes a profound statement about dreams. “Dreams are just…that. They’re dreams,” she starts.
They help get you through the day, like the thing about the terrace. It’s nice, but…Uhm. I know it’s just a thing I read in this book when I was 12. The girl in the book has a terrace that’s outside of her bedroom, and she planted flowers on it, and I just loved that.
It just kind of always stuck with me. It’s impractical; I’m not gonna try to get a house like that. Uhm, they don’t even make houses like that in Scranton. So, I’m never gonna—
Pam cries at the end of the scene. Her terrace is the tower Fischer always wanted as a kid.