‘The Office’: The Improvised Line That Got Jenna Fischer the Part of Pam Beesly
Pam Beesly, played by Jenna Fischer, is a shy, creative, subtly quirky receptionist at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. The Office largely revolves around her relationship with Jim Halpert (John Krasinski).
After eight years, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Fischer in the role of Pam, especially because she put so much thought into the character.
Jenna Fischer’s improv audition for Pam
When Fischer auditioned for the part of Pam, the casting director told her, “Please look normal. Don’t make yourself all pretty, and dare to bore me with your audition.”
At the audition, Fischer gave a mock interview as Pam, which allowed her to improvise her responses.
“My take on the character of Pam was that she didn’t have any media training, so she didn’t know how to be a good interview. And also, she didn’t care about this interview,” she told NPR in a 2008 interview. “So, I gave very short one-word answers and I tried very hard not to be funny or clever because I thought that the comedy would come out of just, you know, the real human reactions to the situation… and they liked that take on it.”
But Fischer’s answer to the first question might have been what nabbed her the role.
“When I went into the audition, the first question that they asked me in the character of Pam—they said, ‘Do you like working as a receptionist?’ I said, ‘No.’ And that was it. I didn’t speak any more than that. And they started laughing.”
Jenna Fischer’s audition with John Krasinski: When Jim and Pam was born
When Fischer auditioned opposite Krasinski, she immediately felt their chemistry.
“When I met John and I was reading with John, everything was easy. It was effortless.” she told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017. “I just felt the most like Pam in the easiest way. All of our work together felt so honest.”
“Chemistry between actors, it’s a very elusive thing. To me what it means is it’s easy and effortless to access your character with that other actor,” she continued. “I did feel that immediately with Jim. I mean with John! I was relieved that they cast John because it made my job so much easier.”
Another thing that helped Fischer fully embody the role of Pam throughout the audition process was her years of actual receptionist experience.
“Having worked in an office I think gave me details to my character and world that I wouldn’t have had if I’d never worked in an actual office. I earned my living as an administrative assistant for seven years as a struggling actress, so I had many office jobs,” she said.