‘The Office’: Phyllis Smith Had to ‘Hold Her Breath’ to Get Through This Scene With Steve Carell

When it comes to hilarious comedies, it’s hard to find a show that’s as hysterical as The Office. The hit documentary show stopped filming back in 2013, but it’s still captivating new audiences on a daily basis thanks to streaming services. From the star-studded cast to the phenomenal writing, the show has plenty of elements that make it a treat to experience. But, what really takes The Office to the next level is the various characters.

The Office cast members Phyllis Smith, Steve Carell, and Mindy Kaling
Phyllis Smith, Steve Carell, and Mindy Kaling | Justin Lubin/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

From the dogmatic militance of Dwight to the chaos that is Ryan, The Office is filled to the brim with iconic characters. Of course, one of the most iconic characters is none other than Michael Gary Scott, who is perfectly played by Steve Carell. An often bumbling yet occasionally competent boss, Carell’s portrayal of Michael is equal parts absurd and endearing.

Steve Carell used his background in improv to make ‘The Office’ even better

But how did Carell manage to create on of the most iconic characters in TV history? A lot of Micheal’s success is thanks to the actor’s impeccable comedic gifts as well as his improv background. Prior to joining the cast of The Office, Carell studied improv under The Second City in Chicago. Thus he was always finding hilarious ways to enhance his character and make the other stars of The Office laugh. A prime example of this is the kiss that he improvised with Oscar in the “Gay Witch Hunt” episode of the show.

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Because Carell was always finding new ways to improvise, other stars of The Office were constantly breaking character to laugh at his ridiculous antics. But, Carell never really realized just how hysterical he was, so occasionally he’d get frustrated with the rest of the cast for failing to keep their giggles at bay.

Carell didn’t realize how funny he was to ‘The Office’ cast

“Sometimes Steve would get frustrated when we couldn’t keep it together because he didn’t think he was as funny as we thought he was and also he’s more professional than all of us,” John Krasinski, who played Jim Halpert on The Office revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone. But, just because Carell didn’t break character as often as some of his castmates doesn’t mean he was immune to fits of laughter. In fact, in one particular scene, the Despicable Me star couldn’t stop laughing.

In a recent episode of the Office Ladies podcast, the cast reflected on the episode “Phyllis’ Wedding”. In this particular episode, Michael makes a fool out of himself by constantly trying to make himself the focal point of Phyllis’ marriage to Bob Vance of Vance Refrigeration. At one particular point, Michael goes in to talk to Phyllis right before she gets married. As he’s speaking, he asks her if she’s passed gas, citing that the odor is particularly pungent.

Phyllis Smith confessed she had to hold her breath to make it through the hilarious scene

According to cast member, Phyllis Smith, who played Phyllis Vance on The Office, this scene was particularly difficult for Carrell, herself, and the crew to get through. “Every time Steve said the word ‘pungent’ he would break out into this high-pitched cackle,” Smith revealed. “And then I would start laughing. And then all of a sudden we heard the Video Village and the sound people outside the door, because we were in a small dressing room area with just the camera guy and a sound boom… So we could hear them cackling and laughing on the outside,” Smith shared.

Apparently, Smith was so overcome with giggles that she couldn’t breathe. Carell fared no better, and the scene required countless takes before the pair could get through it. Eventually, Smith resigned herself to holding her breath just so she could make it through the scene. “When I wasn’t talking I literally had to suck it up and hold my breath,” The Office alum admitted. “Otherwise, I just, we couldn’t get through it.”

It’s wonderful that the cast of The Office found the show to be just as hilarious as fans. Personally, we’d love to see the all bloopers for the this particular scene to see if we can spot the moments that Smith is hold her breath.