‘The Office’: This Improvised Dwight and Michael Moment Almost Couldn’t Be Used; ‘They Started Laughing Hysterically’
The Office often allowed the talented cast to flex their improv muscles but sometimes those ad libs were so funny to the actors they couldn’t get through a scene. One example of that happened between Rainn Wilson (Dwight) and Steve Carell (Michael), when they improvised part of a scene and started laughing hysterically. The hilarious moment made it into the episode but, according to the writer, just barely.
The ‘Branch Closing’ episode
During the July 8 episode of the Office Ladies podcast, hosts Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey explored season 3 episode 7 “Branch Closing.” The episode involves the bad news that the Scranton office will close, but it actually ends up with the Stamford branch closing.
Before they know the reverse decision about the branch closing, Michael and Dwight decide to visit company CFO David Wallace at his home to try and save the Scranton branch.
Hilarity ensues as Michael and Dwight practice how they’ll confront David. The scene includes an improvised part at the end — which had to be edited right before the two actors broke.
The actors started laughing but they were able to save the scene
At David Wallace’s house, Dwight and Michael decide to prepare to confront their boss with some role playing.
When discussing the scene with the episode’s writer, Mike Schur, he told Fischer how the improvised part of the scene ended up with the actors laughing, but the editors were able to cut that out.
“There was an element of the scene that was improvised and it made everyone laugh so hard that they were able to keep it in but they had to cut this one moment because… one second after that moment everyone started breaking,” Fischer explained.
The scene involves Dwight pretending to be David Wallace but Michael becomes frustrated because Dwight isn’t more intimidated by him. Fischer revealed, “That’s where it was supposed to end. That was the scripted ending of the scene. But when they shot it, Rainn walks back in and Steve says ‘Mr. Wallace…’” and Wilson makes a noise to show he’s “terrified” by Michael.
“The was the moment Mike said, ‘it was amazing and we literally couldn’t go one frame later because they both started laughing hysterically,'” Fischer shared.
Rainn Wilson gave a subtle hint when he improvised
During the Office Ladies podcast, Fischer and Kinsey chatted about how they could tell if Wilson had improvised a line — it was subtle, for sure.
In discussing one of Dwight’s talking heads, Fischer shared, “That last part is not in the script and I could kind of tell that there was an improv there because whenever Rainn improvs at the end of a talking head or the end of a scene, I feel like you can see him smile, just a little bit, in the corners of his mouth and his eyes.”
Kinsey added, “When he has an improv that I think he’s really happy with, has a little bit of a smirk. He’s kind of proud of the moment.”
“He amuses himself in the moment while saying it,” Fischer said.