‘The Office:’ John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer Started ‘Pushing Their Weight Around’ In This Season
The Office remains a top pic on streaming services despite the show leaving the airwaves in 2013. Launching the careers of several cast members including Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Ed Helms, and Jenna Fischer, some of the actors on the show became more vocal regarding their characters after a few seasons.
‘The Office’ stars land big screen roles
With Carell’s hitting big-screen success after starring in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, he was soon fielding a plethora of film offers. His cast members also began getting movie roles, especially during season five. While the notoriety was a positive for the stars and the sitcom, juggling everyone’s schedule became an issue.
“Agents and managers were constantly calling me and saying, ‘My client needs out for this job,’” producer Randy Cordray recalled in Andy Greene’s book The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s. “He’s being offered a cameo, or a role, in a feature film during these dates. Can you accommodate?’ So my job was to build the calendar each year taking all of this into account.”
Soon Helms was offered The Hangover, which proved to be a challenge for producers when he had ample air time on an episode. While allowances were made for Carell’s schedule since he had launched the show, Helms hadn’t signed on until season three and was seen as having less seniority. His schedule accommodations began to create some tension.
“It caused an enormous amount of scheduling difficulties. Whatever scenes Andy played with other actors, you had to cross-check the calendar to see if there were conflicts,” Cordray revealed. “When other actors would do projects, they would go, ‘Hey, you made it work for Ed Helms. You need to make it work for me.’ And that was a valid argument. I couldn’t very well shoot that down.”
Greg Daniels splits ‘Office’ time with ‘Parks and Rec’
When producers of The Office launched Parks and Rec in 2009, showrunner Greg Daniels wasn’t around Dunder Mifflin as much as he was in earlier seasons. Paul Lieberstein (who also played Toby) and Jen Celotta became co-showrunners of The Office.
“Greg is obviously phenomenal, and he created the show, and the show was always better with Greg around,” Celotta told Greene. “But I felt confident when Paul and I were made co-showrunners.”
While cast and crew enjoyed working with Lieberstein and Celotta, their style was a change from than they were used to with Daniels.
“With Paul and Jen, it was different, and I can’t tell you how it’s different,” first assistant director Kelly Cantley said. “I have worked with both of them since, and I really like them. I like them as much as I like Greg, they’re just different to work with.”
Burnout hits in Season 6
Firmly established in Must See TV status, The Office creative team started to become fatigued with churning out content that lived up to high expectations. Season six was turning into a grind.
“To this day, I kind of think that five seasons of anything is about as much as you ever want to do,” sound mixer Ben Patrick said in Greene’s book. “It started to be muscle memory after a while. By season six, it started to feel more cartoonish at times.”
Boom operator Brian Wittle revealed that cast members began wondering if their run was up. “There were times when stuff felt to jokey,” he said, noting a particular episode entitled “Mafia.” “Everybody thought that episode was so stupid… even Steve [Carell]… they were like, ‘This is so silly. Are we jumping the shark?'”
Krasinski and Fischer were highlighted in most episodes as The Office’s idyllic married couple Jim and Pam. Due to their relationship often being a main focus of the show, the actors wanted more of a say during season six.
“When Greg left, John and Jenna started to feel like they needed to have more control over their own storylines,” sound mixer Ben Patrick recalled. “They started pushing their weight around more.”
At the end of season six, Celotta, along with writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupinsky, left the show. Each one emphasizes that their exit was amicable – they all just wanted a change.
“I had nothing more to give,” Stupinksky said. “We were ready for a new challenge. I couldn’t come up with any more stories about a stapler missing.”