‘The Office’: Jenna Fischer Was Worried Fans Thought She ‘Stole’ From the Original Show
Many people weren’t thrilled about The Office being adapted. But the show eventually found its own way. Jenna Fischer talked about her struggle with playing a character that was inspired by the original show.
‘The Office’ was adapted from a British show
The Office was first a British show that ran from 2001 to 2003. Ricky Gervais played an offensive boss named David Brent.
Greg Daniels was the showrunner of the American adaptation, which started in 2005. The pilot started off by redoing the British pilot.
“The pilot was pretty much word-for-word the British show, which I know we weren’t all super excited about,” John Krasinski, who played Jim Halpert said in the book, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s. “But we could understand why we had to do it to see how it stacked up against the other show.”
Gervais agreed that this wasn’t normal. “I thought it was odd they just redid our pilot,” he said. “I don’t know why they did that. I thought there was no point to it. It got better when they went on their own.”
Steve Carell changed Michael Scott’s character
Michael Scott (Steve Carell) is based on David Brent. However, Carell got the role because he wasn’t as familiar with the original show. He didn’t go in trying to do Gervais’ performance over again and he stood out.
Carell continued to change the character by making Michael a bit more sympathetic. Director Paul Feig talked about noticing this while doing “Office Olympics.”
“I don’t know if you remember that kind of got found on the set,” Feig said to Angela Kinsey and Fischer on Office Ladies. “Because remember we were doing the whole thing where you guys are presenting Michael with the medal and Steve just made this decision to kind of start crying you know getting all choked up.”
He encouraged the crying and said this helped Michael become a more lovable character.
Jenna Fischer was worried people thought she stole her performance
Fischer, Kinsey, and Rashida Jones talked about being worried The Office was being adapted for an American audience. They were fans of the original show.
But they soon realized Daniels was onto something. Fischer was still worried about how people would feel about her performance as Pam.
“You guys had the benefit of playing characters that didn’t have a British counterpart,” Fischer said to Jones and Kinsey of Office Ladies. “Like I was always worried ‘Oh no I don’t want people to think that I stole my performance from Lucy Davis.'”
Fischer said she did see Davis’ performance. “And I’m sure it seeped in. How could it not? And also the lines were the same in the pilot,” she added.
Davis played Dawn Tinsley in the original show. Most fans would probably say Pam stands on her own as a character.