‘The Office’: Why Everyone Wanted to Write for This Role
There’s no doubt that working on the set of The Office was a fun job. It’s evident to fans that the writers enjoyed bringing Dunder Mifflin’s employees to life. But there’s one character that every writer wanted to work on in particular. Find out which character the The Office writers wanted so desperately to work and why they were eager to create for this role.
The writers on ‘The Office’ had a fun job
Imagine writing jokes Michael Scott (Steve Carell) got to tell. That’s what the hilarious team of writers on The Office had the privilege of doing. They got to write for the entire cast of characters on the show and collaborate with the talented actors who played those parts.
As discussed on Office actor Brian Baumgartner’s podcast, An Oral History of The Office, the writers loved their job. Throughout Baumgartner’s interviews, the talent who worked on The Office had nothing but good things to say about their experience.
In episode 8, “The Moment That My Life Changes,” writers discussed their favorite aspects of working on The Office — including the character writers enjoyed writing for the most.
‘The Office’ added new cast members throughout its run, including Andy Bernard, Karen Filippelli, and Erin Hannon
Throughout nine seasons, The Office added several characters to its roster. In season 3, fans met Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) and Karen Filippelli (Rashida Jones), two employees of the Dunder Mifflin Stamford branch who would move to Scranton when the company downsized.
Later, in season 5, more new employees were introduced to the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch. As Baumgartner pointed out, they were “shaking things up” at Dunder Mifflin. That included introducing Ellie Kemper as the new office receptionist, Kelly Erin Hannon.
‘The Office’s writers loved the refreshing vibe Ellie Kemper brought to the set
Unlike the rest of the Dunder Mifflin employees, Erin wanted to be at work. She was proud to be the receptionist of a mid-size paper company. Her willingness to go beyond the duties of her role was made known within 30 seconds of meeting the character.
Kelly Hannon joined the team when Charles Miner (Idris Elba) was running the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch. To avoid confusion about who Charles was talking to, Kelly Hannon agreed to go by her middle name, Erin. This helped prevent Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling) from constantly lingering outside Charles’ office door and repeating, “Charles, you wanted me.”
“She just wanted to be there,” Kemper explained to Baumgartner. “Stanley (Leslie David Baker) may be over it, Oscar (Oscar Nunez) may be over it, but Erin lived for it. She loved being [at Dunder Mifflin].”
Erin’s work ethic was one of the reasons why everyone wanted to write for the role.
Erin Hannon was a breath of fresh air to ‘The Office’ writers
Writers were desperate to come up with jokes for Erin because she was drastically different from other characters. Her presence created a stimulating challenge for the writers of The Office.
“Ellie was one of those guest characters who the writers all instantly wanted to write for,” Brent Forrester told Baumgartner. “Everybody started pitching stories for her — it was like this shot of adrenaline to us.”
Claire Scanlon, The Office‘s editor, talked about how Kemper stood out from a sea of iconic and established characters.
“I didn’t know how you guys introduced new characters,” Scanlon, who started at the same time as Kemper, explained. “They kind of just let them flounder and waited on the actor to show them who they were, and it either worked, or it didn’t.” Kemper did just that.
Scanlon cited the scene from “Secretary’s Day” as the moment showrunners knew Kemper would work on The Office. She called out the moment when Michael (Steve Carell) and Erin are at lunch. A frustrated Erin pulled her hair in front of her face and told Michael, “In the foster home, my hair was my room.”
In that moment, Erin became one of the most sought after characters to write for on The Office. Scanlon said Kemper was “definitely driving [the scene]” and giving Carell “great stuff to work with” — something the writers were eager to create more of.