‘The Office’: Joan Cusack Gave Ellie Kemper This Gift While Filming the Finale

Joan Cusack made a guest appearance on the finale of The Office, playing receptionist Erin Hannon’s birth mother. Behind the scenes, Ellie Kemper says Cusack gave her a unique souvenir to keep — er, at least she thinks she was meant to keep it. 

Ed Begley Jr. as Martin, Ellie Kemper as Erin Hannon, Joan Cusack as Fran
Ed Begley Jr., Ellie Kemper, and Joan Cusack | Colleen Hayes/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

The finale of ‘The Office’ was like a reunion

Over the years, the cast and crew who worked on The Office bonded like a family. As documented on Office actor Brian Baumgartner’s podcast, An Oral History of The Office, the finale was formatted in such a way so that cast members old and new could reunite one last time. 

In the show, the “stars” of the fictional documentary took part in a live panel. Everyone from Dunder Mifflin was in attendance — everyone, that is, except Michael Scott. He showed up later for Dwight Schrute’s (Rainn Wilson) wedding because you can’t have a finale for The Office without Michael Scott. 

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During the Q&A panel, each of the Dunder Mifflin employees interacted with fans of the docuseries. But for Erin Hannon, the panel turned into a family reunion. 

Erin Hannon’s storyline got a happy ending on ‘The Office’ 

“Erin never really had a permanent family,” Kemper explained to Baumgartner. “Growing up, she was in foster homes. I just loved that the writers arranged for [Erin to meet her biological parents] at the end.” 

Erin was shocked to have been asked a question during the Q&A, but it turned into one of the most heartwarming scenes in The Office, starring Cusack and Ed Begley, Jr. as Erin’s birth parents, Fran and Martin Hannon.

“The thing I found most compelling about the documentary was your search for your birth mother,” Cusack said in the scene. “My question is, don’t you hate her? I would just imagine you were so angry with her that you would hate her.” 

Naturally, Erin had the most “Erin” answer of all.

“Maybe sometimes,” she started, adding:

But not like, hate hate. More just like, ‘Mom, I hate you!’ and then she would say ‘Go to your room young lady!’ and I would stamp my foot and go upstairs and — I have a room, which is really cool. And then we’d just have dinner together. But I don’t know, I’d have to meet her.

And that’s exactly what Erin did. In one of the finale’s most emotionally charged scenes, Erin finally gets to meet her mother and father.

Kemper and Cusack shared chemistry on-screen, but they also formed a bond behind the scenes — so much so that Cusack gifted Kemper with a memento. 

Joan Cusack gave Ellie Kemper her cardigan on the set of ‘The Office’

“Not to freak you out — or Joan Cusack out…” Kemper said to Baumgartner. “But I still have her cardigan. [Joan Cusack] gave me her cardigan.” 

On the last day of shooting, Kemper recalled complimenting Cusack’s sweater. “I said something like…either complimented her cardigan or said ‘It smells so good,’ and she took it off and gave it to me. She said, ‘You can have it!'” 

In retelling that moment, Kemper second-guessed her interaction with Cusack. “Maybe she literally just meant you can borrow it and I never gave it back,” Kemper said. “It’s very possible I misinterpreted that.”

Either way, Cusack’s cardigan is Kemper’s now!