‘The Office’: Craig Robinson Compared the Cast to ‘Towels Being Wrung out’ for Character Inspiration

In an interview with Brian Baumgartner, Craig Robinson compares The Office cast to a “towel being wrung out” in regards to inspiring their characters. Behind the scenes, showrunners were constantly turning to the cast of the show for qualities that would make their roles unique. These are all the ways The Office cast put part of themselves into the NBC comedy series. 

'The Office' cast Craig Robinson as Darryl Philbin, Ed Helms as Andy Bernard, Brian Baumgartner as Kevin Malone in an episode from season 7
Craig Robinson, Ed Helms, and Brian Baumgartner | Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Craig Robinson’s passion for music inspired Darryl Philbin

From Andy Bernard’s (Ed Helms) penchant for accapella to Kevin Malone’s passion for fantasy football, each character in The Office has something that makes them relatable to fans. As Baumgartner and Robinson discuss on The Office Deep Dive, those ideas came directly from the cast themselves. 

“We were like a towel being wrung out,” Robinson says in an episode from October 2021. “Whatever [producers] knew we could do, they got it out of us.” 

As Baumgartner mentions, Robinson only has to hear someone hum a song and he’s able to play it back. “I have a trained ear,” the actor said of his musical ability. Throughout the series, Robinson’s musical talent manifested in Darryl Philbin. 

Kevin Malone’s love of football on ‘The Office’ came from Brian Baumgartner

Baumgartner was often playing the drums in The Office for his band Scrantonicity Two. But in reality, music didn’t come that easily to the actor. 

“We would read the episodes and there would be song[s],” Baumgartner said, recalling asking production about rehearsals. Unlike Helms and Robinson, Baumgartner didn’t have as much musical talent and felt he needed to warm up before playing drums on the show. 

Instead, Baumgartner inspired the role of Kevin in other ways. Kevin’s love of sports and gambling was born out of Baumgartner’s love for fantasy football

‘The Office’ character Angela Martin shares Angela Kinsey’s love of cats 

While Angela Kinsey considers herself a cat-lady, her character’s love of cats was somewhat of an accident. In the pilot episode, Kinsey is handing out papers. “I’d been doodling on a Post-It note,” she told Fox News. “I [drew] a little picture of a cat and I wrote ‘You’re invited to Sprinkles’ first birthday party, 4 PM in the parking lot.”

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Kinsey made up a story about her character finding a cat in the parking lot, naming it, and hosting a party on the cat’s behalf. “Jenna [Fischer] as Pam improvised a line off of that Post-It note and Sprinkles made it into the pilot, and I think the writers just were like, ‘Yes.’ And they just ran with it.” 

Jenna Fischer wrote a ‘Book of Pam’ for her character on ‘The Office’

Before she became Pam Beesly, Fischer felt a connection to the character. “I believed with my whole heart that this [is] the part for me,” Fischer explained to Baumgartner on his other podcast, An Oral History of The Office.

At the time, she thought: “if they don’t pick me, then they’re not doing the show I think they’re doing. I am literally the only person who should play this part.” 

When she was preparing for her audition, Fischer came up with a complete backstory for Pam, including a “three-page essay” detailing who she was and her motivations. It also included details about her relationship with Roy Anderson (David Denman) and why they were still together, despite their incompatibility. Obviously, she got the part!

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