There are plenty of great characters who have phenomenal arcs within the nine seasons of The Office. But even amongst a crowd, Melora Hardin’s Jan Levinson is a standout. Throughout her tenure on the show, Hardin’s character transforms from a no-nonsense executive to a crazy girlfriend and back again. The journey is truly a spectacular one to watch.
For a long time, Hardin was tasked with playing the “straight” character. Her normal sensibilities offered a delicious foil for Michael Scott’s bumbling antics. Considering Hardin hadn’t done a ton of comedy prior to The Office, this suited her fine. However, by season 3 of the hit show, Jan’s craziness was rivaling even Michael’s, and Hardin embraced it like a seasoned pro.
Melora Hardin got to show off Jan’s craziness in the ‘Dinner Party’ episode of ‘The Office’
Jan’s unraveling seemed to come to a head in The Office Season 4. Her erratic behavior was on full display during “Dinner Party.” Hardin had some particularly fun moments in the beloved episode. One standout, of course, is when she dances to a song sung by her old assistant, Hunter, whom she deflowered.
The dancing reaches a painful level of discomfort when Jan tries to rope Jim into dancing with her. Funnily enough, it’s something that Hardin carefully planned. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Hardin revealed how she ensured that her co-star, John Krasinski (Jim Halpert), was completely unprepared for the moment.
How Hardin made sure John Krasinski was as uncomfortable as possible
“In the sequence where I sort of dance inappropriately, I purposefully did not do that in rehearsal, just so that John Krasinski could be particularly uncomfortable [when I tried to dance with him],” Hardin explained. “I waited until we were filming to do that so that he would be completely surprised and have to deal with it on camera, which is why it’s such a great, ridiculously uncomfortable moment. And he doesn’t get up from his seat.”
Hardin has a background in dance
Continuing on, Hardin shared that the moment was also enjoyable for her because of her background in dance. “I’m a dancer, but I really tried to just dance a tiny bit off the beat,” The Office alum shared. “It was so much fun to just be a little bit wrong.”
Krasinski recalls his reaction to Hardin while filming ‘The Office’
For his part, Krasinski shared that he was super taken aback by Hardin’s improvisation. According to the A Quiet Place director, it upped the awkward tension that was the pulse of the “Dinner Party” episode. “I totally remember that moment,” The Office star shared. “As soon as she started dancing, it was that thing, you could feel the energy in the room, and we were already at maximum, and it just felt ridiculous. It was amazing.”