‘The Office:’ Jenna Fischer Said ‘All the Girls Were Aflutter’ When A Hunky Star Took on a Recurring Role
NBC’s iconic sitcom The Office offered audiences several characters that will live in infamy. Michael Scott (Steve Carell), Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson), and the legendary coupling of Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) are just a few of the memorable personas created during the show’s nine-season run.
High-profile celebrities frequently took on guest starring roles at Dunder Mifflin, including Will Ferrell, Kathy Bates, and Tim Olyphant. One actor in particular caused quite a stir with The Office’s female cast members when he took on a recurring part in Season 5.
Michael Scott gets a new boss
In the fifth season of The Office, the producers took a different turn by having Michael quit Dunder Mifflin to start a paper company of his own. The idea presented a whole new storyline for the show creators.
“It took us a while to realize how vital the boss character is to an office comedy,” writer Brent Forrester explained to Andy Greene, author of The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s. “Michael Scott was a great boss for an office comedy because he could create chaos by his personality. Then similarly, to bring in a boss who’s more powerful than Michael was a great story generator.”
Anthony Farrell, another writer for the sitcom, suggested adding some specific factors about the new superior. “I remember sitting in [showrunner] Greg’s [Daniels] office… and me pitching, ‘I think Michael should have a black boss, someone he can’t mess around with,'” Farrell recalled. “‘Someone he tries all the jokes with; nothing works.'”
When director Paul Feig suggested a “Stringer Bell” type, referencing a character from the HBO series The Wire, the crew decided get the real thing.
‘The Wire’s’ Stringer Bell becomes Charles Miner of ‘The Office’
Bringing on Idris Elba to portray Charles Miner, Michael Scott’s new superior and ultimate nemesis, was a stroke of genius. The English-born actor was a natural at playing the stricter, no-nonsense Vice President of Dunder Mifflin.
“I didn’t even have to audition,” Elba told Greene. “They were all really big fans of The Wire and they were like ‘Please come and do it.’ I was like, ‘You know I don’t do much comedy.’ There were like, ‘Oh, no, you’ll be fine.’ “
Elba enjoyed working with the cast, giving a special shout-out to Carell and Krasinski. “I loved working with those guys,” he said of the actors who portrayed Michael and Jim. “There was a script, but there was a certain amount of improvisation and they were always trying to trip each other up and make people laugh… They were the best of the best.”
Female cast members were obvious fans of ‘The Wire’ star
Elba is known as a sought-after star. Between his on-and-offscreen charisma and clearly noticeable good looks, the Pacific Rim actor won over the entire Office ensemble, especially the female cast members.
“He was so interesting because he was always in character and he spoke with an American accent the whole time so he wouldn’t accidentally slip out of it during a scene,” actress Kate Flannery, who played Meredith, recalled. She also got a kick out of Elba’s banter with Krasinski’s character. “I loved how tough that character was on Jim. I thought that was hilarious.”
While Fischer didn’t have much opportunity to work with Elba on camera, she did notice her female co-stars definitely were thrilled to have the actor on set.
“Idris was so awesome, but unfortunately I was in the Michael Scott Paper Company most of the time he was on set,” Fischer revealed. “But he is really handsome. All the girls were aflutter.”
Though Elba was only on the sitcom for six episodes, he clearly was a welcomed addition to the cast.