‘The Office’: John Krasinski Recalls Tension Created for Jim and Pam’s Kiss Scene; ‘It Made Me More Nervous’
Jim and Pam’s big kiss scene in The Office “Casino Night” episode is one of fans’ favorite moments between the two characters. John Krasinski, who played Jim, recalls how the director created tension between him and Jenna Fischer (Pam) — it made him “nervous” but definitely got the desired result.
Why the director created tension between John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer
On the July 15 Office Ladies podcast episode, Fischer and her co-host, Angela Kinsey, discussed Jim and Pam’s iconic kiss scene, revealing some behind the scenes details about how the actors were kept apart before filming the scene in order to create tension.
Director Ken Kwapis explained how they intentionally wanted to create an imbalance that Krasinski and Fischer could use in the scene.
“We shot the kiss actually the night before we shot the parking lot scene” in the episode, Kwapis explained. “The reason is just a practical one — that it was the end of the week and we saved our night exterior work for Friday night.”
He continued, “So I felt like it was hard because how do you go into the kiss without having experienced that parking lot scene? How do you prepare for it?”
The answer, he said was to create tension by separating the actors. “And so it seemed to me that maybe having some distance between the two of you might help create, I don’t know, just this feeling that you’re kind of off-balance,” Kwapis shared.
John Krasinski was nervous about the scene
When they filmed the kiss scene, Krasinski explained that the tension really impacted his performance, making him nervous because his typical joking manner on set wasn’t playing how it usually did.
During the July 28 episode of the An Oral History of The Office podcast, Krasinski explained how he felt right before filming the scene. “I walked on, you know, ready to joke with folks and they were like not wanting to make eye contact with me. And I was like, ‘what happened?’ I feel like I said something to you [host Brian Baumgartner], like what’s going on?,” Krasinski recalled.
“And then it made me more nervous,” he added. “Cause then they were like, ‘all right, now maybe you should go out the door and whenever you’re ready, come in.’ And I was like, ‘what’s happening, is no one going to call action?’ And they’re like, ‘no, man.’”
The camerawork played a big part in the scene
The imbalance between the actors obviously paid off in a huge way, but there was also something special about the camerawork used for the scene.
During the podcast, Kwapis explained how typically you would want to see both of the characters’ faces in a kiss scene but they shot it so viewers didn’t see Pam’s reaction to the kiss.
“As an audience, you get the pleasure of being Pam — you’re being looked at by Jim — you don’t see her reaction so you get to, as an audience, kind of write it yourself,” Kwapis said.
He added that the “shot is very simple,” but what’s “noteworthy” is how “the person who’s surprised by the kiss, you don’t see their face.”
On the Office Ladies podcast, Kwapis shed more light on the camera angles used for the scene. “I remember thinking that the other reason the camera angle was so good, so appropriate, was that Jim knows what he’s about to do. Jim has such a strong intention — he’s coming there to kiss Pam,” he explained. “But that Pam is unaware of it and is surprised… so the camera angle really kind of puts us in Pam’s shoes… Sort of, we are Pam.”
“We’re surprised by it as well, so it felt like another angle would have really hurt the way we are involved in that moment,” he added.