‘The Office’: Jim Halpert’s Talking Heads Contained a Major Hint About Michael Scott
The Office showrunners made several careful choices about how the series was filmed. Not only did their decisions make for fun easter eggs, but their they also helped amplify the storytelling. Like Jim Halpert (John Krasinski), there was something unique about Michael Scott’s (Steve Carell) talking heads that hinted at what was in store for the “world’s best boss.”
Talking heads were an important part of ‘The Office’
At its core, The Office was a mockumentary series that, well, mocked documentaries. To achieve that documentary feel, fictional camera crews would sit each employee down for one-on-one interviews about their work day.
These shots were called “talking heads.” Every employee had a talking head at one point or another, where they would speak directly to the person interviewing them.
Sometimes, Jim would break the fourth wall outside of his talking heads, but that was more for the viewer experience. As Krasinski pointed out on Office actor Brian Baumgartner’s podcast, An Oral History of The Office, he was “the window to the audience.”
For the most part, though, talking head interviews were conducted in the conference room.
Jim’s talking heads on ‘The Office’ contained a big secret about his future
All of the talking head interviews were filmed in the conference room. A window looking into the office was always in the background.
That is, all of the interviews except Jim’s were filmed that way. Jim’s talking heads always featured the window that overlooked the parking lot, or the world outside of the office.
“Everybody was shot pointing into the office, where Leslie [David Baker] was sitting — so in front of Stanley — except for Jim,” Randall Einhorn, a camera operator on the series, explained to Baumgartner on the podcast. “I thought that Jim was the one person who was going to leave that place and had something bigger that [he] wanted to do.”
Eventually, Pam Beesly’s talking heads were filmed the same way as Jim Halpert’s
Before Jim and Pam (Jenna Fischer) got together, her talking heads were identical to the other employees of the Dunder Mifflin.
When she and Jim finally became a couple, the background of Pam’s talking heads started to change. Suddenly, she had the window to the outside behind her.
“Jim and Pam got in front of the windows because they were both going to leave and go to someplace better,” Einhorn explained. As a couple, where Jim was going, Pam would follow. By the time The Office ended, the couple moved to Philadelphia so that Jim could work in his dream role.
Michael Scott’s talking heads had a window facing the outside, too
As the boss, most of Michael’s talking heads were filmed in his office. But did you notice what was in the background of those shots?
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A window to the outside world.
Like Jim and eventually Pam, Michael Scott’s talking heads featured a window that overlooked the parking lot.
Showrunners may not have known exactly how or when Michael Scott would leave Dunder Mifflin, but somehow, they always knew he would. In season 7’s “Goodbye Michael,” he leaves his job behind to start a new life in Colorado with his fiancé, Holly Flax (Amy Ryan).