‘The Office’: John Krasinski Was Pressured to Audition for a Different Role in the Cast

When John Krasinski was cast as Jim Halpert in The Office, his entire life changed. Prior to getting his big break on the hit comedy, he was working as a waiter and considering giving up acting completely in favor of a more practical career path. However, playing the paper salesman for nine years ensured that he would have a lucrative acting career. But, Krasinski’s life may have taken a drastically different turn had he not fought to audition for the role of Jim.

John Krasinski on set of The Office
John Krasinski | Justin Lubin/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Unlike some of the other members of The Office cast, Krasinski didn’t have years of experience in the entertainment industry. However, he still had the foresight to advocate for himself and his career. While it’s hard to picture Krasinski as anyone other than Jim, his initial audition for the hit NBC comedy was for an entirely different character.

John Krasinski was pressured to audition for a different role in ‘The Office’ cast

In behind-the-scenes footage for The Office, Greg Daniels (who created the American version of the show) revealed that Krasinski’s initial audition was for that of Dwight K. Schrute. However, the actor felt more connected to Jim and he fought for that role. “John auditioned in New York and there was a lot of pressure on him to audition for Dwight, but he really felt he should be Jim,” Daniels shared.

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The actor felt more connected to the character Jim Halpert in comparison to Dwight Schrute

Krasinski also echoed this fact on an episode of the Office Ladies podcast. “They said you’re going in for the role of Dwight and I had been a huge fan of the British show and I was like ‘I don’t know man. That’s not…I don’t know if I’m right for that role,’” Krasinski shared about his initial audition for The Office. “And so I weirdly had no idea what I was thinking I said, ‘You know what, I read the pilot.’ And I said, ‘I want to put my best foot forward. Let me know when they’re casting Jim.’ And I remember the response from the NBC casting director to my manager at the time was ‘No, but honestly who does he think he is?’”

Krasinski’s chemistry with Rainn Wilson helped him get cast in ‘The Office’

Casting may have felt that Krasinski’s insistence on auditioning for Jim was presumptuous, but clearly, the actor’s instincts were spot on. The role of Dwight would end up going to Rainn Wilson who, coincidentally enough, had auditioned for a different character on The Office prior to taking a liking to Dwight. When Krasinksi and Wilson were paired up in auditions, it was their unique chemistry that was the final factor that helped Krasinski land the role.

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“But in addition to being very funny in the talking heads and having a great chemistry with Jenna, one of the aspects of the role was to be able to have this relationship with Dwight,” The Office creator shared in a press phone call. “And in the improvs between John and Rainn [Wilson, who was cast in the role of Dwight Schrute], John was the only person who could stand up to Rainn and kind of throw Rainn back on his feet. And so he kind of hit all the marks and it wasn’t a hard choice.”

We’re sure Krasinski is pleased that he never gave into the pressure of auditioning for Dwight. Fans of The Office will likely agree that both Krasinski and Wilson were perfectly cast in their respective roles and the show wouldn’t be the same if things had gone any other way.