‘The Office:’ Why Jenna Fischer Got Drunk in Preparation for an Episode
Fans of The Office still hold the storied relationship of Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) close to their hearts. Watching the romance bloom from flirtation to marriage, viewers were able to witness the full evolution of the Dunder Mifflin couple.
Fischer had experience as a receptionist prior to her role on The Office, which served as valuable research for her character manning the front desk of the paper company. Yet the actress needed to do some more field work when it came time to film a particular episode.
The Jim-Pam kiss debate
Now heading the Office Ladies podcast, Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey relive the many memorable moments of The Office. One of those include the infamous debate of when Jim and Pam had their first kiss. Many think it was in the Season 2 finale “Casino Night,” while others think it was in the first episode of that season entitled “The Dundies,” where Michael Scott holds an awards ceremony for his employees at a Chili’s restaurant.
“I did not consider this their first kiss,” Fischer said in the podcast, though her co-star has previously weighed in with an opposing opinion.
“Everyone was always asking me about the kiss in the finale, but I thought this was the big kiss,” Krasinski told Andy Greene, author of The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcome of the 2000s. “We’d never made physical contact.”
There were also conflicting perspectives within the production staff on the kiss taking place. Showrunner Greg Daniels revealed that though the writers thought it was too soon for the characters to have that magic moment, he went ahead with the scene. “That was something my wife was really big on,” Daniels said. “[The writers] weren’t really big on it. She kept saying, ‘You gotta put that in. It’s good.'”
Apparently, actress/writer Mindy Kaling sided with the writing staff. “I thought the kiss this early was a mistake,” she said.
Jenna Fischer had to do her homework
The reason Fischer never considered the kiss from “The Dundies” as the couple’s first was because her character was extremely drunk at the time. “The intention was that Pam was going for his cheek, and it was one of those moments where he moved his head in a way that I wasn’t expecting and I’m drunk and I just followed through,” she shared in the podcast.
When Fischer first learned about the plot for the episode, she felt a bit out of her element. “I was very nervous,” she told Greene. “I couldn’t remember what it was like to be drunk and I didn’t want to do a caricature of a drunk person.”
Her co-star and show writer recommended that she get in some practice on being intoxicated. “B.J. Novak suggested I go out and get drunk one night for research,” Fischer told Greene. “I laughed him off at first, but then decided it was a pretty good idea. I took B.J. with me and made sure I didn’t have to drive.”
Under Novak’s monitoring, The Office star was able to pinpoint certain reactions and feelings as she consumed each alcoholic beverage.
“It took only four drinks,” Fischer revealed. “After each drink, B.J. would check in with me asking, ‘How do you feel now? What’s different?’ He made me describe in detail, the various levels of drunkenness.”
Pam under the influence
Apparently, Novak’s idea did the trick and Fischer was able to nail her performance in “The Dundies.”
“I totally drew on my experience of that night when we shot this episode,” the actress explained to Greene. “I realized that when you are drunk, you laugh at stupid things, talk closer to people, get touchy, and basically act like a more obnoxious and unbalanced version of yourself. You lose control a little. So that’s what I did with Pam.”
Fischer won the praise of her colleagues with her performance. “Playing drunk is really hard,” director Randall Einhorn said. “She was written as being hammered, but a happy hammered and a little behind-it drunk. … She did all that so beautifully, but infused with the spirit of the character.”
Diehard loyalists of The Office are getting their fill watching the sitcom on streaming while still holding out hope for a reboot.