‘The Office’ Cast and Crew Members Felt Initially ‘Intimidated’ By This Guest Star … And The Feeling Was Mutual
Fans of The Office are patiently waiting for an announcement of a reboot. While no promises have been made from the cast of the iconic sitcom, stars including John Krasinski, Ellie Kemper, and Angela Kinsey have already hinted that they would be on board.
Several actors emerged from the show as superstars including Krasinski, and Steve Carell became an established A-lister. The Office has also showcased several big name guest stars such as Will Ferrell, Idris Elba, and this Oscar winner who had a recurring role on the show.
Sabre takes over Dunder Mifflin
In season six of The Office, Dunder Mifflin is purchased by Sabre, a paper and printer company from Florida. Producers incorporated this storyline to bring some economic complexity and introduce some new characters.
“People got really excited about sort of the depiction of this extremely bland, really terrible sort of tech/computer company, Sabre,” writer Danny Chun told Andy Greene, author of The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s. “It was fun to pitch on how bad that company could be.”
Going with a “art imitating life theme,” the writers saw the plot as a perfect parallel to what was going on at the network.
“We were looking for more drama,” writer Aaron Shure said. “It was also something that was going on in our world too with the Vivendi and NBCUniversal sale, and we just sort of felt like part of the zeitgeist with mergers and new management.”
‘The Office’ brings on new cast members
Zach Woods joined the cast as ambitious Sabre exec Gabe Lewis. “Gabe was just ego,” Woods told Greene. “The only thing that mattered to him was supremacy and dominance and power and popularity, and he was so ill equipped to attain any one of those things.”
Lewis was a hit with both cast and crew members. Co-star Kate Flannery called him “beautifully fearless,” and Carell gave the young actor extreme high praise.
“He was an amazing improv. Steve even said, ‘That guy keeps me on my toes,’” first assistant director Rusty Mahmood revealed. “What a great compliment.”
Writer Halsted Sullivan noted the conflict the new management team would cause for Dunder Mifflin manager Michael Scott. “Bringing in Gabe created a real different dynamic because he’s not an employee of Michael’s,” she told Greene.
Sabre’s CEO is an Oscar winner
Bringing on Academy Award winner Kathy Bates to play Sabre CEO Jo Bennett was an adjustment for the cast and production team due to her notoriety.
“Kathy Bates was intimidating initially,” Flannery admitted. “I’m a huge fan, so in my mind I was trying to get the movie Misery out of my head… But eventually she did warm and and was lovely, but I think it was daunting on both sides initially.”
Producers were also on their best behavior around Bates. “I remember her coming in and doing the first table read and all of us just sat so quietly, because we were in awe of who she is,” producer Teri Weinberg revealed. “We were so intimated by this aura that she’d brought in.”
It turns out Bates was a little intimidated on working with The Office team. “I remember when Kathy Bates spoke her voice was trembling at first,” editor Claire Scanlon recalled. “We were shocked. We were so excited to be working with freaking Kathy. … She said, ‘You guys are like a well-oiled machine, it is daunting coming into this group.”
With both parties having immense respect for each other, Bates’ tenure on The Office could best be summed up by producer Randy Cordray: “She was a total professional and a dear, sweet woman.”