‘The Office’: Jenna Fischer Reveals What the Cast Was Really Doing on Their Computers
The Office is about the fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin and its employees. The whole premise of the show was for the actors to look like they were working. While they may not have done actual work, The Office‘s cast did use their computers in real-time while filming. Jenna Fischer, who played Pam Beesly, revealed what The Office cast did on their laptops while they were shooting.
‘The Office’ cast ‘worked’ for the first 30 minutes every day
During her interview on Office star Brian Baumgartner’s podcast The Office Deep Dive, Fischer recalled how the cast had to be at their desks starting at 7:30 AM “hair and makeup ready” the day they shot the pilot. That’s because showrunners wanted to capture footage of the cast working. “We would ‘work’ — quote-unquote — for 30 minutes,” Fischer said. “Ken [Kwapis] would walk around with a camera operator and a boom and record us at our desks.” That B-roll proved useful in the pilot episode and beyond.
‘The Office’ computers allowed the cast to talk with fans on MySpace
During the episode, Baumgartner pointed out how The Office is a show about the dying paper industry. But when they were shooting the comedy series, the cast and crew were riding a “digital wave.” Social media was just starting to become popular, and Fischer recalls much of The Office cast being on MySpace. “Angela [Kinsey], B.J. [Novak], and I had these MySpace pages that were on our computers while we were in scenes,” Fischer shared.
She and her fellow cast — including Baumgartner — were interacting with fans and blogging. Fischer remembered instant messaging viewers about specific parts of the show. “Look out for ‘such and such’ in this scene and you’ll know I was typing to you,” Fischer recalled writing to one fan. Those kinds of interactions are what helped develop the fandom The Office has today. But MySpace wasn’t the only media platform that helped The Office became the success that it has.
Video iPods helped put ‘The Office’ on the map
When The Office debuted in 2005, it was around the same time Apple released the video iPod. Rainn Wilson, who played Dwight Schrute in the series, discussed this during an interview with The National Desk. “Apple, for some reason, put The Office Christmas episode on the iPods,” Wilson remembered. “All of a sudden, you had all of these teenagers getting video iPods for Christmas with episodes of The Office on them.” Soon after, The Office skyrocketed in downloads. And while the show’s ratings weren’t all that great, The Office was garnering a fandom that would grow bigger and more passionate over time.
The computers on ‘The Office’ allowed the cast to create a strong fandom
Baumgartner celebrated the impact video iPods and interacting with fans on social media had on the show in his Deep Dive interview with Fischer. He also mentioned it in past episodes of his other podcast, An Oral History of The Office. “That connection was real,” Fischer said. MySpace allowed fans to give the actors direct feedback that made it to the writers and ultimately impacted the show.