‘The Office’: Producer Greg Daniels Shocked His Colleagues by Doing This During Casting
Finding the right actors for The Office was no easy feat. Before showrunners found the cast so many of us have come to know and love, producer Greg Daniels made a few interesting choices during the casting process. Some of The Office cast recall a few of the unique things Daniels did during the auditions for the comedy series — one of which might surprise you.
Greg Daniels’ work before and after ‘The Office’
Daniels has a wealth of experience in the comedy sector. Before The Office, Daniels was lending his comedic skill to shows like Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, and King of the Hill.
Initially, Daniels was the one to kickstart development for the American version of The Office. Later, Daniels became known for his directorial skills, having directed 13 episodes of the hit series. After The Office, Daniels went on to work with Office alum Mike Schur on another successful show, Parks and Recreation.
‘The Office’ cast auditions
As Brian Baumgartner has explained on his podcasts about the show, An Oral History of The Office and The Office Deep Dive, showrunners were looking for ordinary people. They didn’t want to cast well-known actors.
Ironically, this helped actors like Jenna Fischer land a part on The Office. “That little caveat in the casting call that said ‘unknown actors only,’ that was why this was my big break,” she told Baumgartner.
Another member of The Office cast didn’t even audition to be part of the show. Phyllis Smith, who went on to play Phyllis Lapin-Vance on The Office, was a casting assistant behind the scenes. During the audition process, Smith would read lines with the actors trying out for various parts.
“I was sitting next to her, and the actors who were auditioning were playing it to the hilt and working it too hard,” director Ken Kwapis explained in another episode of Baumgarter’s podcast. “Phyllis was reading her lines in this monotonal way, and I just became fascinated with her.” And so did many Office fans.
‘The Office’ producer Greg Daniels’ jumped out a window’ while casting the show
During an episode of The Office Deep Dive, casting director Allison Jones and Smith talked about a lull during the audition process. “All of a sudden, Greg gets up and jumps out this window,” Smith remembered.
“He opens the window and jumps out the window,” Jones added. “Fortunately, the window was close to the ground,” Smith clarified.
“Nancy Perkins in [her] thick Boston accent said, ‘Oh my God, I’ve heard of producers wanting to jump out the window before, but he just did it,'” Jones said, mimicking her colleague.
No one really remembers why Daniels jumped out the window that day. Jones recalled he might have been getting a jacket from his car. Regardless, Smith and Jones look back on the hilarious memory fondly.
Greg Daniels also ‘graphed the qualities’ of the actors auditioning for ‘The Office’
Daniels did another unique thing during the casting process for The Office. “He would put what he needed and what he saw and he would literally graph the qualities of actors,” Jones explained. “He had a very scientific mind when it came to things like that.”
Daniels was less intuitive in terms of who would be the right actor for the part. Instead, he focused more on which actors he felt would lend themselves to the characters in The Office. About the only thing Daniels did do instinctively was jump out of a window.