‘The Office’: Mindy Kaling Admits It Was ‘Challenging’ to Work With BJ Novak on the Show After They Broke Up

Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak played love interests on The Office. Like Kelly and Ryan, Kaling and Novak had a very up-and-down real-life connection. Today, the actors/writers are close friends. But Kaling said in a 2016 interview that, after she and Novak broke up, it was initially “challenging” for her to work with her ex on the show.

BJ Novak and Mindy Kaling at the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
BJ Novak and Mindy Kaling attend the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party | Presley Ann/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak’s relationship

Kaling and Novak started dating during their early years of writing for The Office. Like their characters, they got together and broke up several times.

“We were never really dating, we were never really not dating,” Novak told Vulture in 2012. “We didn’t know. No one knew. All you’d know for sure as that you’d always find one of us next to the other, even if we weren’t getting along.”

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Novak told the publication that his real relationship with Kaling definitely informed Kelly’s relationship with Ryan. He believes their characters’ dynamic was based on “an observation from the writers’ room that Mindy and I were extremely close and constantly fighting.”

In 2015, Kaling told InStyle magazine that her relationship with Novak was “weird as hell.”

“I will freely admit: My relationship with BJ Novak is weird as hell,” she said. “He is not my boyfriend, but he is not my best friend. I guess you could describe our relationship as a ‘romantically charged camaraderie with loud arguments,’ but I don’t think Facebook would accept this as a new status.”

Mindy Kaling reflects on working with BJ Novak on ‘The Office’ after their split

Once Kaling and Novak split for good, Kaling says there was definitely an adjustment period for her at The Office.

“I can’t speak [for] him, but I think for me it was challenging to be in your mid-twenties — I’m such a sentimental person and I take things very hard — but that’s the nice thing about long friendships,” she said on Watch What Happens Live in 2016. “That was like 12 years ago when that happened, so you get over things like that. But it totally was very challenging.”

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She added that there was never any real drama between her and Novak following their breakup at work. And that, today, they’re still very close.

Novak is even the godfather of Kaling’s daughter.

“We kind of fell in love through [writing for the show], and then dated on and off for a couple of years, and now we are just, like, best friends,” she told Vulture in 2012. “Like, real best friends. It’s the kind of friendship you have when you are embedded with someone, that you can only get by putting in that insane amount of time with people.”

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