‘The Office’: Jenna Fischer Said This Big Jim and Pam Scene ‘Felt Magical’ Even Though the Filming Location Was Gross

In The Office Season 5 premiere, Jim proposed to Pam at a busy highway rest stop between Scranton and her art school in New York City. Even though the scene location had a rather unromantic backstory, Jenna Fischer said it was “magical” to film.

The Office stars Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski embracing while portraying Jim and Pam.
The Office stars Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski | Vivian Zink/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Jim and Pam got engaged in the rain during ‘The Office’ Season 5 premiere  

During the May 26 episode of the Office Ladies podcast, Fischer and Angela Kinsey shared more details about the brief Jim and Pam proposal scene, which took place in the rain at a rather “ordinary” location.

“Jim gets down on one knee and he proposes to Pam,” Fischer shared of the moment that caught Pam and fans off guard. “She’s totally shocked. They’re at a gas station. You know, he was supposed to wait till she got back from art school, but he says he couldn’t wait.”

Kinsey said that it’s evident Pam is “completely thrown,” adding, “You can really tell she had no idea.”

RELATED: ‘The Office’: ‘The Sweetest of Sweet Moments’ Between Jim and Pam, According to Jenna Fischer

‘The Office’ creator had a vision for the proposal scene

Fischer said that creator Greg Daniels had a very specific idea surrounding the proposal scene, including the decision to make it part of the season’s premiere episode.

“I just want you guys to know that Greg spoke with us about this,” Fischer explained. “He said that he really wanted Jim’s proposal to Pam to be in the season premiere. He thought … that would be unexpected. You usually end seasons with proposals.”

“So he thought this would be a real shock,” Fischer added.

Even Kinsey said it was a surprise for the cast. “Jenna, I even remember at the table read, you know, we had so much going on with this weight loss story and Pam at art school,” she shared. “I didn’t see it coming.”

We’d been teasing it all last season,” Fischer said about the proposal. “[Daniels] said he also wanted to throw people off by having it in a very ordinary location. So he wanted it to feel special, but he also wanted it to feel like Jim made the decision without a whole lot of planning.”

‘The Office’ proposal scene was filmed on a former toxic waste site

Fischer went on to explain how the rest stop was one that Daniels had been at along the Merritt Parkway as a kid. So the set design and construction folks built a replica of the rest stop in a Best Buy parking lot.

“It took them about nine days to build it,” Fischer said. “To create the illusion of highway traffic, they built a four lane circular racetrack around the gas station set. They set up cameras on the other side of this raceway and they had cars drive around it at 55 miles an hour.”

The reason the parking lot area they found for the scene was so big, Kinsey explained, was “because it was a paved over toxic waste site.”

Fischer pointed out how very unromantic the reality of the location was. “I just want to make sure that we acknowledge that the information you’ve just given us means that Jim and Pam, our beloved Jam, got engaged at a former toxic waste dump,” she noted.

Despite being a fake gas station and highway, Fischer said there was a “magical” element about the scene. “It was actually, to be there, really romantic,” she explained. “It was funny, the gas station — it was just a front. If you went in, it was a like a fakey fake. You go through the door and you’re just like looking at trees that didn’t have a back or anything.”

“But it felt magical. It did,” she added.

The proposal scene, which was just 52 seconds long, cost the show $250,000. “In the end, this was the single most expensive scene ever shot during the entire run of the show,” Fischer explained.