Fifteen years after the premiere of The Office, it’s impossible to imagine anyone other than Jenna Fischer playing the pivotal role of Dunder Mifflin receptionist, Pam Beesly. And her co-star and onscreen love interest, John Krasinski, predicted her casting the moment he first saw her during auditions for the beloved NBC comedy, which ran for nine seasons from 2005 to 2013. “Before we worked together, she entered a room and as cliché as it sounds... as soon as she came in, I said, ‘She’s got the part,’” he tells Yahoo Entertainment. “I just knew.” (Watch our video interview above.)
Speaking with Krasinski at a press day for his latest directorial effort, A Quiet Place Part II — which had its March 20 release postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic — the actor shared other details about the origins of the Scranton, Pa. power couple known as Jim and Pam, beginning with how he spotted Fischer in a crowded room of actresses reading for the part. “I said, ‘That’s the show I would watch.’”
Interestingly, The Office’s creator, Greg Daniels, initially had a different show in mind. “There was a time when I thought that maybe in America, Jim and Pam should be an interracial couple," he revealed to us in a recent interview. "So I had an actress named Erica Vittina Phillips, who I was kind of interested in for Pam for a while.” Like Krasinski, though, Daniels was sold on Fischer as soon as he saw her audition. “Jenna, when she came in, she socked all other thoughts of Pam. I mean, it was insane. She came in... it was like a magic trick. It didn't seem like an actress. It just seemed like, ‘Oh, there's the character brought to life. We can stop looking there.’”
Backstage during the day-long auditions, meanwhile, Krasinski was looking for a way to play Jim to Fischer’s Pam even as the casting team inadvertently kept them apart. “I actually spent all day not being able to audition with her — they hadn’t paired me with her,” he remembers. “I was extremely bummed about that, because I knew whoever was reading with her was being considered [for Jim].” But, as the song goes, he made sure not to throw away his shot. Towards the end of the day, Krasinski devised a way to audition alongside Fischer. “I went on set and said to no one, ‘I think you forgot to send me home.’ And then from behind a wall, I heard people say, ‘Just give us 20 more minutes!’ The last 20 minutes were me and Jenna auditioning, and I thought, ‘My god, if I audition with this girl, I might have a chance.’”
The Office is currently streaming on Netflix.
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