‘The Office’: Rashida Jones Said Her Audition for Karen Was ‘Torturous’

Rashida Jones seems like a perfect fit for the role of Karen on The Office, but the part didn’t come that easily to her. In fact, the actor described the audition process for the show “torturous,” even though she had an inside connection.

Rashida Jones as Karen and John Krasinski as Jim on 'The Office'
Rashida Jones as Karen and John Krasinski as Jim on ‘The Office’ | Justin Lubin/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

How Rashida Jones got ‘The Office’ role

During the August 5 episode of the Office Ladies podcast, Jones chatted with hosts Angela Kinsey and Jenna Fischer, explaining how she got the role of Karen the good old fashioned way. She auditioned.

It wasn’t a slam dunk, however, as she went through numerous auditions, describing the process as “torturous.”

“I auditioned. Many, many times,” Jones explained. “I knew people socially before I joined the cast and I went to college with Mike Schur. We were in a play together freshman year.”

She continued, “We became fast friends and we took a lot of classes together. So I knew Mike and I came to know about the U.S. Office because he moved from New York and said ‘I got a job in LA and I’m gonna write the U.S. Office and I was really mad at him… because we were like, ‘how could you do that to the UK Office, my favorite show?’ How could you even try?”

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Jenna Fischer and Rashida Jones had great chemistry

Jones’ audition experience was extensive, she explained, noting, “I auditioned many, many, many times and I remember having a distinct feeling that when I got to the point, Jenna, where you and I sat in a room and read lines together and then got to improv a little bit, everything just like made sense all of a sudden.”

“You know, like, it was such a cool counterpart. It made me feel like ‘Oh, I feel like I really get this dynamic,’ you know? And I feel like you kind of got me the part, in a lot of ways.”

Fischer said, “No way,” adding, “I had that same experience with you in the room and it’s very similar to when they paired me up with John. I was like ‘Oh, when I’m paired up with this person, I just turn into Pam.’”

She continued, “I think I read with two or three different people and Mike asked me, ‘So what’d you think, who’d you like?’ And I just went on and on an on and on about you. I was like, I mean, ‘She was amazing.’ I told him all those things — ‘she made it so easy to be Pam’ — and he was like, ‘OK, noted.’”

“He didn’t say like, ‘Oh, she’s my best friend from college! I can’t wait to tell her.’ He played it so cool,” Fischer added.

‘The Office’ changed Rashida Jones’ career

Jones recalled that she “came in so many times” to audition because they were considering her and someone else and couldn’t decide, adding, “I waited for so long” and she knew Schur wasn’t going to do her any favors just because they were friends.

“It was torturous, like they really took me to the bitter end before I got the call,” she said of the process.

Of the role, Jones said, “It changed my whole career. I was like about to quit acting before I got this show, so it was a big deal for me.”