‘The Office’: The Insane Way the Cast Auditioned for the Show

Despite how many years pass, The Office is truly a gift to comedy. Spanning nine seasons, the hit NBC show is filled to the brim with unique office romances, phenomenal writing, and absurd characters. But what truly catapults the show into a league of its own is the star-studded cast. Each member of the cast is masterful at building a world for themselves which their character inhabits. But, creating such a talented cast was no easy feat. In fact, the way that the actors auditioned for The Office is truly mind-blowing.

The Office Cast: Rainn Wilson, Steve Carell, Jenna Fischer, John Krasinski, and B.J. Novak
Rainn Wilson, Steve Carell, Jenna Fischer, John Krasinski, and B.J. Novak | Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank

Each actor that eventually joined the cast of The Office had to go through multiple rounds of auditions. While some were more traditional, parts of the audition process were fairly unorthodox. In fact, one of the auditions was completely improvised. Though the show is, in fact, scripted, its documentary-style nature certainly gives it an improvisational, often chaotic, feel. Because of this, the casting director opted to forgo a traditional script for first-round auditions in favor of asking the cast questions that they then answered in character.

An unusual audition process

In an interview with NPR, Jenna Fischer (who plays Pam Beesly Halpert) opened up about her audition process. “My very first audition for ‘The Office,’I had to sit in a chair, and the producer interviewed me in character. There was no script. He just said, we want you to act like Pam, or your idea of Pam. And we’re going to interview you like a documentary film crew might. And they asked me a lot of questions about – did I like working at a paper company? How long had I lived in Scranton? How did I feel about being filmed by a documentary crew,” Fischer began recounting.

Jenna Fischer’s Pam Beesly Halpert

The Office alum then began to describe how she chose to characterize Pam and how she saw Pam interacting with the world around her and with the camera crew. “And my take on the character of Pam was that she didn’t have any media training, so she didn’t know how to be a good interview. And also, she didn’t care about this interview. And so, I gave very short one-word answers. And I tried very hard not to be funny or clever, because I thought that the comedy would come out of just, you know, the real human reactions to the situation. And it was great. It was great. We clicked quickly. And they liked that take on it,” Fischer said.

Dare to bore me

It was a risk for Fischer to audition in that way, but the advice she received from the casting director, who she’d developed a good rapport with throughout years of auditions, emboldened her to feel more secure in the choices that she was making. “The Office casting director said to me, she said, ‘please look normal. Don’t make yourself all pretty, and dare to bore me with your audition.’ Those were her words. Dare to bore me,” the Office Ladies co-host recalled.

Anything but boring

Fischer definitely took that advice into account and let it color her entire audition experience. “So, when I went into the audition, the first question that they asked me in the character of Pam – they said, do you like working as a receptionist? And I said, no. And that was it. I didn’t speak any more than that. And they started laughing. And then, they asked me a few more questions. My – I mean, my answers were really nothing. They were just yes and no answers. They – and I felt like the comedy would come in watching me think about what I wasn’t going to say instead of being what was said,” The Office cast member remembered.

The perfect cast

Clearly, Fischer’s audition was a success and now we can’t think of a better person to play the role of Pam. Of course, Fischer wasn’t the only cast member to have an audition that was improv-based; every cast member had to go through a similar audition process. Though an improvised interview might have been a very peculiar way to audition for the show, it clearly was successful. We truly couldn’t have pictured a more perfect cast for The Office.