‘The Office’: The Interesting ‘Coaching’ Jenna Fischer Received Before Her Pam Audition–’Don’t Come in Looking Pretty’
It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Jenna Fischer in the role of Pam Beesly in The Office. Pam goes through a huge transformation throughout the course of the show and Fischer made the journey both exciting and nuanced.
When Fischer got the call from a casting director to come in and audition for the role of Pam, she was given directions she wasn’t accustomed to receiving.
What the casting director told Jenna Fischer before her audition for Pam
In an interview with NPR in 2008, Fischer spoke about her Office audition. She actually knew the casting director who called her in for the role, as she’d called her in for other jobs.
“She gave me some coaching on the phone,” said Fischer. “What she said was, don’t come in looking pretty; which, you know, a lot of times, when you go in on an audition, they want you to look inappropriately sexy or hot for the role. And I used to get called in to play things like, oh, like, a third-grade schoolteacher but look really hot. And so, in this instance, the – when I went in for The Office, the casting director said to me, she said, please look normal. Don’t make yourself all pretty.”
In addition to the tip about her appearance, the CD also urged Fischer to not try to be funny.
“Dare to bore me with your audition. Those were her words. Dare to bore me. She said, please do not come in and do a bunch of shtick and try to be funny and clever, because it’s not that kind of show,” said Fischer.
Jenna Fischer’s first ‘Office’ audition for Pam
When Fischer actually went in to the audition, they asked her a series of questions that she had to answer in character.
“My very first audition for The Office, I had to sit in a chair, and the producer interviewed me in character,” she explained. “There was no script. He just said, we want you to act like Pam, or your idea of Pam. And we’re going to interview you like a documentary film crew might. And they asked me a lot of questions about – did I like working at a paper company? How long had I lived in Scranton? How did I feel about being filmed by a documentary crew?”
Fischer got a good reaction from her very first answer.
“The first question that they asked me in the character of Pam – they said, do you like working as a receptionist? And I said, no. And that was it. I didn’t speak any more than that. And they started laughing,” she said.
The actor says the rest of her answers were just as simple. She took the CD’s advice and didn’t try to overdo the comedy.
“I mean, my answers were really nothing,” she said. “They were just yes and no answers. They – and I felt like the comedy would come in watching me think about what I wasn’t going to say instead of being what was said.”
Fischer explained that she only gave very brief answers because she felt Pam “didn’t know how to be a good interview, and also, she didn’t care about this interview.”
The choice definitely worked out in her favor.
“It was great. We clicked quickly. And they liked that take on it,” she said.