July 14, 2020
EP. 36 — Casino Night Revisited w/ Ken Kwapis
This week we’re shaking things up and revisiting Casino Night! We’re answering more fan questions and covering things we missed from that episode like, Mindy’s hair extensions, why some actors share their characters’ names, and we clear up the My Buddy – Kid Sister debacle. We’re also joined by Casino Night director and early The Office visionary himself, Ken Kwapis. Ken gives us his The Office origin story, chats about his favorite moments from the show, and helps us dig a little deeper into Casino Night. We hope you…you know what, go ahead.
You can find Ken’s book, But What I Really Want To Do Is Direct, here https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250260123 and here https://www.amazon.com/But-What-Really-Want-Direct/dp/1250260124
36 — Casino Night Revisited w/ Ken Kwapis
JENNA FISCHER [00:00:04] I’m Jenna Fischer.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:00:05] I’m Angela Kinsey.
JENNA FISCHER [00:00:06] We were on “The Office” together.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:00:07] And we’re best friends.
JENNA FISCHER [00:00:08] And now we’re doing the ultimate “Office” rewatch podcast just for you.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:00:12] Each week we will break down an episode of “The Office” and give exclusive behind the scenes stories that only two people who were there can tell you.
JENNA FISCHER [00:00:19] We’re the “Office Ladies”. Hey guys. Welcome to “Office Ladies”.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:00:29] Hi, friends.
JENNA FISCHER [00:00:31] This week we are doing something a little different. We are going to revisit an old episode. We’re going to revisit the Season 2 finale “Casino Night” episode.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:00:43] Yeah, guys, we’re going to shake it up a little bit. We got so much love and feedback for this episode, and we really loved reading your reactions. They cracked us up. Also, it was one of your favorite episodes that we had done. Remember, we had JK, John Krasinski on to chat about those Jim and Pam scenes. And Jenna, Constance Gorhams said, “‘Casino Night’ was my favorite episode of ‘The Office’ and of your podcast. I loved your conversations with John, the joy you felt when reminiscing about those backstage moments and the friendship you have was so sweet and definitely had me smiling while listening to it”.
JENNA FISCHER [00:01:21] Well, Constance, we agree. We agree with you. And that’s why we want to go back and give this one a second look. We broke down a lot of stuff in this episode, but, Ang, we missed some stuff.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:01:31] What?
JENNA FISCHER [00:01:32] We did.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:01:32] No.
JENNA FISCHER [00:01:33] We did. People wrote in with more questions. We’re going to answer those. And a little later, we are going to interview the director of “Casino Night”, Ken Kwapis. Guys, Ken directed 13 episodes of “The Office”, including our pilot episode. I mean, he got us started. He also directed “Diversity Day”, “Sexual Harassment”, “Booze Cruise”, “Gay Witch Hunt”. He directed our 100th episode of “The Office”, “Company Picnic” and our finale. We literally could not be more excited to talk with him today.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:02:08] I love this human. He is one of my favorite humans. I’m so excited for you guys to hear his awesome, sweet voice. He’s just a delight. I can’t wait.
JENNA FISCHER [00:02:16] “Go ahead”.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:02:18] “Go ahead”. That’s how he would say “Action”.
JENNA FISCHER [00:02:20] Yeah.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:02:21] “Go ahead”.
JENNA FISCHER [00:02:22] He would also give me notes like this. He would say, “Jenna. You know what? In this next take. Why don’t you-? You know what? Go ahead”.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:02:31] Yes.
JENNA FISCHER [00:02:32] He would start to give me a note and then not give me a note.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:02:35] I would be like, what kind of like ninja mind game is this?
JENNA FISCHER [00:02:37] Yeah. We’re going to ask him about it.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:02:39] Yeah.
JENNA FISCHER [00:02:40] We’re going to ask him about his ninja mind tricks.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:02:42] All right. We could talk about Ken a lot, but first, Jenna, we should probably get started with some things that we missed.
JENNA FISCHER [00:02:48] Yeah.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:02:49] You guys, you said we miss things. You wrote in. Catherine B. wrote in to say, “In his talking head at 4 seconds. Michael says the Scranton Business Park is putting on Casino Night, not Dunder Mifflin. It does seem like Michael planned most of it and is the host, but just wanted to point it out since Angela was so worried about the budget”.
JENNA FISCHER [00:03:10] Wow. There it is. 4 seconds, Angela.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:03:14] 4 seconds in, we missed something. Jenna. 4-. 1, 2, 3, 4. Missed something!
JENNA FISCHER [00:03:19] Exactly. So I feel like this implies that all of the businesses maybe threw in for the party. Or was it that Billy Merchant, the owner of the building, threw the party? It’s Scranton Business Park. To me, that sounds like the businesses pooled their money and through this “Casino Night”.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:03:36] That’s what it sounds like to me. So that means like Vance Refrigeration participated. But then how did Michael get to be the host? Probably just because he’s the loudest person at the meeting. Like, I got to do this. This is my-.
JENNA FISCHER [00:03:47] Probably because nobody else wanted to. I mean-.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:03:50] Maybe, yeah.
JENNA FISCHER [00:03:50] I feel like everyone was probably relieved when-. Well, I don’t know, because they probably knew what it would mean to have Michael be the host.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:03:56] Yeah, exactly.
JENNA FISCHER [00:03:56] But no one else wanted the job, maybe, so there you go. Well, we got another fan catch from Eliana Kornfield and Raymond Chen. They said, “What day was the ‘Casino Night’? Because when Toby was telling Michael about why they shouldn’t invite the Boy Scouts, he mentions that it’s a school night”.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:04:16] Invoit? Do you mean invite or did you want to say invoit?
JENNA FISCHER [00:04:20] I wanted to say invoit, like in Jon Voight.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:04:25] He invoited them.
JENNA FISCHER [00:04:29] He invoited them. I’ve been watching “Normal People”. All right? Marianne.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:04:35] Don’t do an accent.
JENNA FISCHER [00:04:35] Collins. Collins.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:04:35] Don’t do an accent.
JENNA FISCHER [00:04:36] Marianne Collins.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:04:38] Don’t do an accent.
JENNA FISCHER [00:04:41] Collins and Marianne could solve their whole relationship by simply having one conversation. All right.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:04:47] That was like eight different mixes of accents. Alright.
JENNA FISCHER [00:04:50] I know. That’s how I do it, I put them all together. I’ll start again. We got another fan catch from Eliana Kornfield and Raymond Chen. “What day was the ‘Casino Night’? When Toby was telling Michael about why they shouldn’t invite the Boy Scouts, he mentions that it’s a school night, but when Jan leaves, Michael says Talk to you Monday, implying that it’s a Friday night”. Well, I think we all know what I have to say about this.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:05:20] Here we go. Why aren’t they casual if it’s Friday?
JENNA FISCHER [00:05:24] If it’s a Friday where we dress casually? No, I know. By the way, a lot of people have written in to me about this and said that in Michael Scott Paper Company, we’re gonna have an episode where it’s explained that we are reinstating Casual Friday as if for some reason it had been banned. I’m just saying we don’t cover it, OK? We introduced this idea of Casual Friday and then we don’t talk about it for four years. It’s left me hanging. So.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:05:50] I’m sorry you were left hanging.
JENNA FISCHER [00:05:54] Thank you.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:05:54] I feel for you and your other friends out there who are looking for those Fridays of casualness. OK.
JENNA FISCHER [00:06:02] Thank you. But the question is, what day was the “Casino Night”? It’s unclear.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:06:07] I would think it would be a Friday because they’re going to stay up late. They’re going to gamble and drink. And they don’t want to go to work the next day. So I’m saying it’s a Friday.
JENNA FISCHER [00:06:15] I agree with that. And I think maybe when Toby was saying that it was a school night, maybe he means they had school that day. But a school night means you have to wake up for school the next day. Maybe it’s a Thursday.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:06:26] We don’t know Jenna. All right. Our next catch comes from Jeremy Cordell. “If Dwight is wearing his grandfather’s tux that he was buried in, wouldn’t be filled with bullet holes due to the Schrute tradition revealed last season of shooting their loved ones to ensure that they do not bury them alive”.
JENNA FISCHER [00:06:45] Mmhmm.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:06:45] Hmm. I think this also brings up another question.
JENNA FISCHER [00:06:49] Ok.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:06:49] Jeremy, follow me. Follow me on this, Jeremy. After Dwight wore the tuxedo. Did they then put it back on his grandfather to then rebury him in a barrel? Or does he just get to keep the tuxedo? I mean, Dwight mentions his grandfather was reburied in Season 2, Episode 4, “Grief Counseling”.
JENNA FISCHER [00:07:07] I think they removed the tuxedo, kept the tuxedo and put him in something else when they put him in the barrel.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:07:14] But he probably would have had the bullet holes in his suit.
JENNA FISCHER [00:07:18] I think that’s a very fine catch from Jeremy.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:07:21] Yes.
JENNA FISCHER [00:07:21] Well done. So now, Angela, I have something I’d like to point out that I cannot believe we did not discuss last time. At 15 minutes, 35 seconds. We have an amazing shot of Mindy’s hair extensions. Full Mindy. She’s wearing a flower in her hair. We’ve been literally talking about these extensions for episodes and we failed to mention them in “Casino Night”. Here they are everyone.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:07:47] They are substantial extensions. Kelly has gone all out.
JENNA FISCHER [00:07:52] Yes.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:07:53] And I can’t believe we didn’t mention those. OK. Also, my friend, Jenna Fischer, people say I say “lady” too much, so I’m gonna start calling you “my friend”.
JENNA FISCHER [00:08:04] I would like you to call me Jenna Fischer.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:08:06] Oh, OK. My friend, Jenna Fischer.
JENNA FISCHER [00:08:09] There we are.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:08:09] People also wrote in about Pam’s hair. Botya said, “Not a question, but I just have to say Pam’s hair looks so amazing throughout this entire episode”. And Melissa Lynn said, “I bet there was another meeting about her hair”. Jenna, you know, there was a meeting about that hair. Come on, give it up.
JENNA FISCHER [00:08:27] There was a huge meeting about that hair. And we tried again as we did, several different options for Pam’s hair. Ultimately, we decided to go half up, half down. But instead of just having Pam let her hair naturally dry into that kind of frizzy curl, she would go back in with a curling iron and kind of soften her curls. We thought this was a good way for her to look like Pam, but like she’d given it a little effort, which seemed right on to me.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:08:56] So she would have had to blow dry her hair out straight, then get a curling iron and then put all those curls in, right?
JENNA FISCHER [00:09:03] No, she let her hair dry naturally and then went in with a curling iron and just sort of softened the curl that was there. That’s literally how we did that hairstyle. We did not blow it out first.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:09:13] OK. I just wanted to know. I was curious about that.
JENNA FISCHER [00:09:17] Yes.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:09:17] How many steps this was.
JENNA FISCHER [00:09:18] Well, here’s one thing I should mention. One of the discussions was that whatever Pam’s hair looked like, it had to look like she did it herself. It couldn’t look like someone else did it for her. Right? And the truth is, I could have never, ever achieved that little swirly. If you look at the back of my head, I’ve got this-.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:09:38] I know, I know.
JENNA FISCHER [00:09:39] Swirly thing there, that was-.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:09:40] It’s a swirly bun thingy that holds up half the hair.
JENNA FISCHER [00:09:43] Yes. Because her Pam clip is not there. There’s no Pam clip. It’s a swirly thing with little pins. There’s no-, my arms couldn’t bend in the way that would be necessary to achieve that. So bit of a cheat. We went with it.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:10:00] Here’s a little something for you guys listening. We always knew there was about to be a conversation about Pam’s hair when Greg or one of the writers would come into hair and makeup because you never, ever saw them in hair and makeup. You’d see them on set, but you would rarely see them come into hair and makeup. So whenever they did, we’re like, oh, what’s happening? Either Pam has a new hairstyle or Kate’s getting her head shaved.
JENNA FISCHER [00:10:23] Yes.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:10:23] Like, what’s going on?
JENNA FISCHER [00:10:24] Well, here’s what I thought was so funny was the number of meetings we had about my hair in this episode, and all the while, Mindy was three chairs down from me getting long, luscious extensions that no one questioned. No one questioned how and why Kelly suddenly has long hair. But we, you know, we curled my hair in a slightly new way and it was like seven meetings. We were very protective of Pam’s hair. They really were. And good thing, too, because, well, I mean, every once in a while we messed up with, you know, low pony, but we’ve already spoken about that.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:11:03] LP. We already covered LP. All right. I would like to talk about drink orders. I tracked it, I tracked it.
JENNA FISCHER [00:11:11] You tracked some drinks.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:11:11] And I want to talk about it. Here’s the thing. At 20 minutes, 3 seconds, we see Jan and Carol. They are side by side at the bar, which is totally awkward. OK. Guess what Carol ordered?
JENNA FISCHER [00:11:22] What?
ANGELA KINSEY [00:11:23] Red wine.
JENNA FISCHER [00:11:24] OK.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:11:25] Keeping it simple.
JENNA FISCHER [00:11:26] Yeah.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:11:26] Right?
JENNA FISCHER [00:11:27] Yeah.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:11:28] Jan orders a cosmopolitan.
JENNA FISCHER [00:11:30] Mmmm. You know, remember cosmopolitans were what I drank when I did my experiment with B.J. Novak about getting drunk for “The Dundees”. Remember I told that story?
ANGELA KINSEY [00:11:42] Is this because you had watched like one episode of “Sex and the City” and you’re like, oh, people order Cosmopolitan when they go to a bar.
JENNA FISCHER [00:11:48] Lady, that’s literally correct. Yes. I had done so little drinking that when I had to order a drink, I said Cosmopolitan because it’s what they drank on “Sex and the City”. Yes. Yes. One hundred percent. I didn’t know any-. It was that or a screwdriver. I knew those two drinks. That’s it.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:12:09] All right. So Ryan comes up and orders a 7 and 7 with 8 maraschino cherries, sugar on the rim, blended if you can.
JENNA FISCHER [00:12:19] And then doesn’t Jim say, “Oh, that’s still going on”?
ANGELA KINSEY [00:12:22] That’s still going on, huh? Yes, perfect line. It’s perfect.
JENNA FISCHER [00:12:26] Well, at 14 minutes and 46 seconds, Michael goes up to Billy Merchant. And we did not talk about this scene. And I have some info here.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:12:36] OK.
JENNA FISCHER [00:12:36] Michael says to Billy, “Your nurse is hot”. To which Billy says, “She’s not my nurse, she’s my girlfriend”. And Michael says, “Your nurse became your girlfriend. Sweet”. And Billy says, “She was never my nurse. I met her at Chili’s”. All right. We had someone write in, and I am so sorry, sir, I lost your name. OK, if, if you hear this, you know who you are. There’s only one person who wrote in, and I cannot, could not find the email again. But they wrote in to say, “Is Billy merchant’s girlfriend the same woman who played the hostess, Meghan from Chili’s in ‘The Client’”? Remember in “The Client”, we loved how Michael kept remembering that the hostess name was Meghan. He was like-.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:13:22] Yeah.
JENNA FISCHER [00:13:22] Meghan. Meghan.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:13:23] Yeah.
JENNA FISCHER [00:13:23] OK. OK, no, it is not Meghan from Chili’s from “The Client”, but it is the same actress who played the waitress at Chili’s in “Dundees”.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:13:36] What?
JENNA FISCHER [00:13:37] And her name is Amanda Warren. This actress, Amanda Warren, she was a background performer in the “Dundees” episode. She played a waitress and we hired the same actress to play Billy Merchant’s girlfriend in “Casino Night”.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:13:51] That’s some good continuity. Come on.
JENNA FISCHER [00:13:54] Good continuity.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:13:55] Come on, some good continuity.
JENNA FISCHER [00:13:57] And by the way, thank you, Kent-opedia, for doing that deep dive on our casting file to get me the answer to that question.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:14:05] Aw, Kent-opedia. Well, at 15 minutes, 51 seconds, Michael sits down at the poker table to play No Limit Texas Hold’em. Michael goes all in against Toby. Toby calls. Michael gets really mad. Toby shows a pair of jacks. And then Michael folds his cards and storms away from the table. We have a fan question from K. Guth. “As a poker player, did it bother Jenna that when Toby calls Michael’s all in, Michael just leaves, even though he could still win”?
JENNA FISCHER [00:14:38] Yes. Yes. K. Guth. Yes, it bothered me a lot. Also in the script, it said that Michael turns over his cards, revealing a 9 and a 10, which means he could have one by landing a straight. Right? If he gets a straight, that’s going to beat Toby’s two Jacks. Here’s the thing. You never walk away from the table. In the scene, Michael doesn’t reveal his cards. He just folds his cards. So I guess we’re left to presume that they were really awful. But you never know what you’re gonna get on the flop, on the turn and the river. You never walk away from your hand. Thank you, K. Guth. It did bother me.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:15:17] K. Guth. None of that made sense to me. None of what Jenna said made sense to me. But I’ll tell you what I’m going to take away from it. I am not walking away from the table.
JENNA FISCHER [00:15:26] There you go.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:15:27] Thank you.
JENNA FISCHER [00:15:28] Angela, at 20 minutes, 23 seconds. I don’t think we discussed Creed’s stealing of the poker chips, which becomes a bit of a runner.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:15:38] Yeah, it’s a total runner throughout the episode. And as far as I can tell, Angela Martin is the only person that really clocks it, right?
JENNA FISCHER [00:15:45] Yeah. But then you don’t say anything.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:15:47] I don’t say anything.
JENNA FISCHER [00:15:48] You keep it secret.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:15:49] Isn’t that interesting?
JENNA FISCHER [00:15:51] Angela, do you think that your char-, because your character clocks a lot of things.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:15:55] Mmhmm.
JENNA FISCHER [00:15:55] Do you keep a little file?
ANGELA KINSEY [00:15:57] Oh. I think-.
JENNA FISCHER [00:15:57] Do you think maybe you file that away somewhere?
ANGELA KINSEY [00:16:01] A hundred percent.
JENNA FISCHER [00:16:01] For use later.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:16:02] I think that’s one of the things Dwight and I have in common. He’s tracking all kinds of stuff. And so am I. And so when the two of us think that we’re gonna have power together, we’re like, oh, we own these people.
JENNA FISCHER [00:16:14] Oh, you guys definitely have some secret files.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:16:17] Mmhmm. For sure. Well, lady, I think we should bring Ken on because now I have questions for him.
JENNA FISCHER [00:16:23] Same. Well, here’s what we’re gonna do. We’ll take a break and then we will be back with the director of “Casino Night”, and many other episodes, Ken Kwapis.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:16:31] Go ahead.
JENNA FISCHER [00:16:32] And go ahead to break. Ken Kwapis. Hello.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:16:44] Ken Kwapis is here, everybody! We are so thrilled to have you.
KEN KWAPIS [00:16:49] I am so happy to be here.
JENNA FISCHER [00:16:52] Ken, you and I share a hometown.
KEN KWAPIS [00:16:55] We do. And I have a very distinct memory about one of our first meetings. So I went to an all boys high school in St. Louis. St. Louis University High School. All boys. And the only girls I met in high school came from two sisters schools, Ursuline Academy and Nerinx. And those were the girls who like were actors in our plays.
JENNA FISCHER [00:17:19] Yes.
KEN KWAPIS [00:17:19] So anyways, when you and I auditioned, I remember having this moment where I thought, wow, this woman has such a weird Catholic girl vibe going on here. She reminds me of like the girls I knew from Nerinx High School. And that’s where you went.
JENNA FISCHER [00:17:35] That’s where I went to school. Yes. And the only boys I knew came from St. Louis University High School to be in our plays.
KEN KWAPIS [00:17:46] No, it was the weirdest, most random thing. And, but obviously, there’s a, there’s an important St. Louis contingent on the show. Obviously.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:17:55] There’s a huge one. It’s you guys and Ellie and Phyllis. Am I missing anyone else?
JENNA FISCHER [00:18:00] Rusty Mahmood, our first A.D.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:18:03] Oh Rusty, oh my gosh.
KEN KWAPIS [00:18:04] Rusty. Yeah. Yeah.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:18:05] I really wasn’t aware of how many people were from St. Louis until the World Series. That one season when everyone was watching. Remember? It was like, I might-, I’m going to get it wrong, but anyway, I just remember you guys were really intense about baseball. And I was like, why? And you guys were all from St. Louis.
KEN KWAPIS [00:18:23] Right. It was a bad World Series that year for the Cardinals.
JENNA FISCHER [00:18:27] We lost.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:18:27] Oh is that why you all are so quiet? Oh sorry. I thought I was bringing up a really great memory. You guys are like silent and I’m like, what’s happening?
KEN KWAPIS [00:18:33] No, no. It was terrible.
JENNA FISCHER [00:18:35] No.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:18:35] Ok, sorry. OK.
JENNA FISCHER [00:18:37] Well, Ken, we always like to ask our guests how they came to be a part of “The Office”. And you were our first director. You directed our pilot. We’d love to hear how that happened.
KEN KWAPIS [00:18:49] Well, I, you know, I did not know Greg before the show. I, I met with him. I had an interview with him. I was actually very nervous to meet him because I knew his work. I really admired him. I also was nervous because like so many people said, this is a terrible idea to try to remake this show, “The Office”. And so I went into this job interview with these, all these different feelings, including like, you know, what if I get this job, this is, this, this is an impossible task, remaking this beloved show. And I don’t remember much of the meeting except for one thing. And that is Greg asked me what I thought of the British show. I said I really loved it, but that I was completely confused about the layout of the paper company in the British show. I just found it totally, I couldn’t figure out where, you know, where people sat or anything like that. And I remember even in the meeting thinking this is a really bad move on my part. Like you, there you are, you know, you hire a director because they have, I don’t know, visual sense. And here I was basically saying I’m like spatially challenged. And Greg, to my delight. He goes, “Oh, yeah, I’m totally confused about that, too”. And then we, we were sitting, I don’t know where the meetings took place, but we were sitting on a sofa. And then we kind of scrunched down next to the coffee table and got pieces of paper and pens and started like drawing like we were a couple of kids. We were like drawing what we imagined the original paper company layout was like. So that was, I think, the turning point of the meeting.
JENNA FISCHER [00:20:26] Oh, my gosh, I love that story.
KEN KWAPIS [00:20:29] I guess, you know, it’s, it’s a little bit the lesson of, you know, sometimes it’s OK just to admit what you don’t know. I guess.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:20:36] It really speaks to Greg, too, because I could see Greg getting a bunch paper and saying, let’s draw it. Let’s figure it out.
KEN KWAPIS [00:20:43] Oh, that’s exactly what it was. The two of us just like little kids drawing for a while.
JENNA FISCHER [00:20:48] So when you got the job, then, how did you approach building the Dunder Mifflin world? Did you scout real offices? Because, you know, our first location was that real office in Culver City. How did you choose your space?
KEN KWAPIS [00:21:02] Well, the space, as I recall, the office suite that we shot in was just this kind of shuttered office. You know, there was nothing going on. It was basically a big empty rectangle. There was nothing in it, really. And I remember a lot of questions that Greg and I batted back and forth, including should there be dividers between the desks? Should there be cubicles and you know, or should, if there are dividers, should they be low enough that you could, people could still kinda see each other over them? And we decided, you know, happily to have no dividers except accounting.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:21:38] In accounting.
KEN KWAPIS [00:21:38] And, and ac-. And which is also a very bizarre divider because you cou-, you’re still staring at each other.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:21:45] Well, you know, I have my theory. I have my theory that Angela Martin requested that because she needed a buffer between her and Kevin, because he’s, you know, he’s a little smelly. He’s like.
KEN KWAPIS [00:21:57] I remember even when we decided it would be glass, it was like, well, what’s the point of having that divider? But I think it was just sort of we wanted some sense of, that somebody was in a cubicle-y kind of thing. And, but I do remember spending a lot of time thinking about the relationship between Pam’s chair and, and Jim’s chair. That actually was something that I played around a bunch with different ways that, I mean, Pam’s, you know, your, your reception area was always where it was, but it was a question of where would Jim sit? And I, you know, and it seems now like how could it not be what it was? But I loved the idea that you were, you always look at Jim. And Jim has to turn to look at you. It’s like the simplest thing. But I thought that somehow the way your desks related would help tell the Pam Jim story. And so I love-. Nothing makes me happier than some of the shots we did where like John’s in profile in the foreground. And you’re in the background, Jenna, like gazing at him. And he either is unaware that you’re looking at him or he’s completely pretending to be unaware. And he knows very well that you’re looking at him. So I feel like that was actually something, that was like a key moment in setting setting up the Dunder Mifflin world.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:23:15] I love that.
JENNA FISCHER [00:23:16] Sure, and that would have been totally different if, if Jim sat where Dwight sits.
KEN KWAPIS [00:23:21] Yeah, absolutely.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:23:22] Yeah, then they’d be staring at each other all the time. Oh, I love that.
KEN KWAPIS [00:23:26] And the other thing, you know, I was thinking about are, you know, morning, at 30 minute exercise where, you know-.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:23:33] Yes.
KEN KWAPIS [00:23:33] We, you know, that actually that exercise was inspired by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. They said that when they shot the British show that every morning or occasionally they would just stop and do what they called “General Views”, and they were basically different, establishing shots. And so when we did it, I didn’t really think about it at the time. But I really feel like it’s sort of set the tone for the day and that once we kind of segway-ed into a scripted scene after, you know, a half hour of shooting shots of, I don’t know. You know, like Angela you, you know, doodling a picture of a cat or something, like when we segway-ed into a scripted scene, everyone kind of maintained that sense of just being, like under observation.
JENNA FISCHER [00:24:21] Yeah.
KEN KWAPIS [00:24:21] You know, nobody was doing a scene. It was, it was that’s, you know, everyone was still sort of being, I was still just eavesdropping on these characters as opposed to, oh, let’s do a scene.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:24:33] Yeah.
KEN KWAPIS [00:24:33] You know, the other thing that was great. I mean, none of the phones on the set worked, obviously, and they were all dummy phones. But it kind of gave some of the cast members who didn’t have dialog in the pilot like Phyllis didn’t have, doesn’t have a line of dialog in the pilot. But when we were doing our morning exercise, she was like on this fake phone improvising a sales call. And so I remember actually filming her. And so it was kind of a great way to, for all of the cast members to start to find their voice, even if they didn’t have words in the script.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:25:05] Well, Ken, one of the things I remember as well, just was watching you and our camera operator, watching you and Randall sort of like scope out the look of the scene and we would rehearse for the crew and you guys would watch and your eyes dart back and forth, back and forth from who’s talking. And you’re looking around. And I would find myself if I didn’t have lines in the scene, I would only watch you. I would watch you watching the scene, figuring out where you wanted the camera to be and how you wanted to tell the story.
KEN KWAPIS [00:25:44] Well, I can’t speak for other directors. And obviously, the show, there’s so many great directors who worked on the show. But for me, it was always critical to stand next to the camera, not to be off watching at a monitor. And part of what excited me was because I was standing next to the camera, I could see everyone who wasn’t on camera. And so, for instance, like Jenna, we were looking at you, but Angela, I caught something that you were doing out of the corner of my eye. If we did another take, I might say, you know, find Angela at some point. So because, so it just gave me a sense of where we might look. I mean, Greg put it really well when he was on the podcast on, on, when you talked about “Booze Cruise” and he talked about. I mean, among Greg’s many talents is the way he sort of empowers the camera operator and he is sort of encouraging the operator to kind of get curious about what’s going on, to look for things, to find things, to kind of get interested. And I think that’s such a, I mean, it’s such a fantastic way to approach the camera operating. But for me, at the beginning, it was mostly I just needed to figure out what else could the camera fine take to take. Anyways, that’s a long, a long and involved way of answering the question.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:27:04] No, I loved that.
KEN KWAPIS [00:27:05] The other thing I loved was the idea that the camera would be, quote, in the wrong place. So, and we did, we didn’t do this a lot. As time went on. But at the beginning, there were a few times where, for instance, like Jenna, if I was on you, but Angela, you had a line and then we whip over. But we’d get to you too late, Angela. So we arrived just for like a dead, bit of dead air. There’s like, so we’d get there, wouldn’t get the line. So occasionally it was great to kind of choreograph some of those missteps a little bit. There’s a lot of great times where it just feels like deliberately the camera’s not quite ready for what’s about to happen. I was looking at “Diversity Day” again because I wanted to see Pam falling asleep on Jim’s shoulder, which maybe like my favorite scene that I directed in the whole series. I love that scene so much. But what’s nice about it is, and I’m sure it’s Randall, that when, Jenna, when you lean over onto John’s shoulder, we’re not quite framed for you. And so suddenly the camera sort of like quickly zooms into a tighter shot. But at the beginning, it’s kind of, just kind of a loose frame with the two of you and maybe a couple other people.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:28:21] Yeah.
JENNA FISCHER [00:28:22] I wanted to ask you, Ken, about marks on the ground. So when I came out to L.A. and I had my theater degree, I took a bunch of on camera acting classes. And the big thing I learned was how to hit your mark. And a mark is a piece of tape on the ground that the actor must walk to and stand on because the camera has meticulously measured the distance from the mark to the camera so that everybody’s in focus. And like hitting your mark was a thing that I was constantly nervous about as an actor. And I remember coming in on the pilot and asking, “Where is my mark”? Because I’m now a professional actress on a television show and I must hit my mark.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:29:06] It’s the one thing I learned from my class.
JENNA FISCHER [00:29:08] This is what I learned from my classed. Ask where your mark is. So I’m like, “Where is my mark”? And you said, “No, marks. The actors shall have no marks”. And I was like, “No marks. Why did I spend that 350 dollars on”?
KEN KWAPIS [00:29:24] But wait, I have a question though. Did it feel weird to not know where you were supposed to stand at times?
JENNA FISCHER [00:29:30] It was such a relief because it freed me up. I had started every scene, as an actor on camera, not thinking about where did I just come from? What’s my emotional life? What am I doing in the scene? I started every scene with am I standing on my mark? Like that’s what was going through my head was did I stand on it properly? I think I’m off. Should I look down? I looked down. Did it look obvious? So it was so wonderful that I wasn’t worried about where I was standing. You would just say just land in this general area. You know, walk over to Jim’s desk somewhere between here and here. Wherever you land will find you.
KEN KWAPIS [00:30:11] An important part of that is that we had a lighting plan that for the most part meant that you could land anywhere and you would be, you know, equally lit.
JENNA FISCHER [00:30:21] Right.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:30:22] Oh yes.
KEN KWAPIS [00:30:22] That’s actually, that’s the key. I mean, and I mean, I would say, I mean, there’s nothing against marks, because if we’re doing a scene, you know, where we have some complicated lighting going on, you do occasionally need to actually hit the right spot.
JENNA FISCHER [00:30:35] Yeah. Yeah. You can’t be too far off or there will be no light on you.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:30:39] Yeah.
KEN KWAPIS [00:30:40] But I think that that was part of it. But the other part of it was just the idea that generally that we were never staging things for the camera. Well, we were. We were always staging things for the camera, but we were creating the illusion that we were simply sort of observing what was going on as opposed to choreographing something for the lens. You know, I just loved the idea that we had to follow you. We were the documentary team. We came in each day. We don’t know what you guys are going to do and we’re just gathering footage.
JENNA FISCHER [00:31:10] Well, speaking of documentary crew, Ken, one more thing that you established. I’m not sure if we’ve shared this with people about the talking heads that you, Ken, sat in the place of the documentarian. So when we started and then with every director that followed you, you sat next to the camera and asked us a question before we delivered our talking head. And early on, especially Ken, you would start our talking heads by asking us general questions about our life, about our weekend. And you would sort of gently lead us to a prompt that would then get us to deliver our scripted talking head. And that was kind of an exercise that we did in the beginning. But I think a lot of times people don’t know this. You deliver things like that to like a piece of tape or to a tennis ball so that you’re just meant to look at so that your eye is in the right place. But you were like, no, I want you to deliver this to me, a human being, and look at me and have a conversation with me. I thought that was such a brilliant decision. And it, it helped us so much.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:32:22] It helped so much. And I think, you guys listening out there, when we sat in the chair, we were immediately in character and we didn’t know what Ken was going to ask us. And it really, for me, helped me discover so much about Angela Martin. It was sort of like this acting exercise, Ken.
KEN KWAPIS [00:32:42] Well, one of the things I thought about was the fact that a lot of the talking heads were very short. I mean, some of the most wonderful talking heads are like just one line.
JENNA FISCHER [00:32:51] Yeah.
KEN KWAPIS [00:32:52] And so. So it felt like. I mean, for me, the challenge is like, how do you make one line feel like it’s part of a conversation? In theory, if I’m the documentary filmmaker. I did ask you a bunch of questions and then in the editing room, pulled this one line out. So it was just a question of. And I, by the way, it was, it was actually hard for me because I had to come up with different questions before teeing up the scripted line. And. And I wasn’t even sure what I was gonna ask. And, but it just mainly was a way to keep it conversational. And, but I thought it was also important that as characters that everyone started to develop a relationship with the, quote, documentary team. But I just felt like the documentary team is like important off camera characters in the show.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:33:40] Yeah, I used to love being surprised by your questions. Like, I, I, like, have a memory, one time you said to me, what do you think about Kevin?
KEN KWAPIS [00:33:50] I know.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:33:50] Those are the type of questions you’d ask. And I was like, “I try not to think about Kevin”.
JENNA FISCHER [00:33:57] You want to ask some of the questions of the people wrote in?
ANGELA KINSEY [00:34:00] Yes. Let’s ask some fan questions here.
JENNA FISCHER [00:34:02] Ken, a lot of people wrote in wondering which episode was the most rewarding or the most challenging?
KEN KWAPIS [00:34:09] I feel very blessed because I got to direct a lot of significant stories and certainly a lot of important Pam and Jim stories. And I would say the most challenging for different reasons. “The Fire” was very challenging because we spent so much time in the parking lot and it was like 150 degrees.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:34:29] Yeah.
KEN KWAPIS [00:34:32] It was the hardest, so hard. And, and “Booze Cruise”, I loved so much. But boy, that boat was not fun.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:34:41] Here’s a question. What would you consider the most under-appreciated moment in the show? That’s a big question. Wow.
KEN KWAPIS [00:34:49] Wow, that’s tough. I. Wow. Let me think about that. Well, here’s, here’s a moment from the, or a short scene from the pilot that I always point to as, to me, one of the best scenes certainly in the pilot is the, is the scene towards the end between John and David Denman, when they’re like leaning on Pam’s desk after she has left and they’re just leaning and not talking to each other. And it goes on forever. And it’s just this weird scene of dead air. But there’s such tension between them. And finally, I can’t remember John’s line, but he starts to engage with David and then David just walks away. It is the, it is the oddest little scene. And it, but I love how beautifully like it is, it’s very tense and there’s not a word and they’re not even looking at each other. I just find that, that would fall under a great, under-appreciated moment.
JENNA FISCHER [00:35:46] I love that.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:35:47] Yeah, I love that moment and it felt so real. Like in watching it. And Jim tries and then Roy’s like I’m out. Just walks away.
JENNA FISCHER [00:35:54] Yeah.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:35:55] Oh yeah. I love moments like that.
JENNA FISCHER [00:35:57] We got this question from Justin Sweeney. Justin asked, “As a director, how do you balance telling actors what to do versus empowering actors to be creative and make their own decisions”? You’re so good at this, Ken.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:36:13] You’re very good.
KEN KWAPIS [00:36:14] I feel like part of my job as a director is to simply create an atmosphere where people feel loose and people feel like they can kind of play or, you know, or fall on their face or make a fool of themselves. I mean, I just feel like part of it is is trying to really not be in any way, shape or form kind of judgmental in my mind and just sort of like, and sort of, you know, kind of love people into their best work. And so it’s not a specific thing. It’s more just kind of. And I also feel it’s very important to be near the actors, to not be off in another, I mean, obviously, this was the case in “The Office”. But, you know, I don’t want to be off in another room looking at a video monitor. I want to be near the actors so that when you call a cut, the actors look up and you’re the first person they see. And I’ve talked to so many actors who work with directors who were sequestered at a video monitor a half a mile away. And they say that, you know, after calling cut, they don’t hear, they get no notes. They hear, it’s radio silence. So they’re, you’re kind of at sea wondering what, you know, how am I doing?
JENNA FISCHER [00:37:26] Yeah.
KEN KWAPIS [00:37:26] So for me, it’s so much of it is just being, you know, near the cast. I’m also kind of awed by actors, by the way. And I should. I am not an actor at all. So I’m just sort of a little bit, you know, just kind of awed watching. I feel like I have the best seat in the house here.
JENNA FISCHER [00:37:45] Yeah.
KEN KWAPIS [00:37:46] There’s one thing I do want to mention about Steve. I know on the “Booze Cruise” episode, you talked about how, you talked about his intensely great work ethic and the fact that he was shooting a movie at the same time we were doing the “Booze Cruise”. And what I remember in there, at the beginning of the series is I always tried to get to the set before anyone else to kind of figure out what I was going to do during the day. And Steve was already, always already there. And he was in Michael Scott’s office with the door closed. And he was just thinking about the day’s work. And he was like, he was there before everyone. And I thought, wow, that’s, that’s a pretty cool, that’s a cool signal for Steve. Not that this was his intention. But what a great signal to send everyone in terms of like.
JENNA FISCHER [00:38:34] Yeah.
KEN KWAPIS [00:38:34] Being serious about your work.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:38:36] Yeah.
JENNA FISCHER [00:38:36] Ken, you would give me a piece of direction that you gave me more than once, and I am convinced it was a Jedi mind trick.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:38:45] Oh, I know it. I know it.
KEN KWAPIS [00:38:48] What?
JENNA FISCHER [00:38:48] I would do a scene a couple of times and then you would come up to the reception desk and you would say. “Jenna. On this next one. What if you-? You know what? Never mind. Go ahead”. And I would think, what if I what? What if I what?
ANGELA KINSEY [00:39:07] What was he going to say?
KEN KWAPIS [00:39:09] Oh, my God. You’re on to me.
JENNA FISCHER [00:39:10] Is it? Is it a Jedi mind trick, Ken?
KEN KWAPIS [00:39:14] It, it, it kind of is. Yes.
JENNA FISCHER [00:39:18] What is the purpose of it? Is it to-? What?
KEN KWAPIS [00:39:23] I think-.
JENNA FISCHER [00:39:24] What are you doing there?
KEN KWAPIS [00:39:26] I think maybe, the purpose is to clear your mind.
JENNA FISCHER [00:39:32] Yeah.
KEN KWAPIS [00:39:32] Maybe. I do remember once Steve and I were working on a scene in the episode “Company Picnic”, and there was just a lot of discussion, as there often was, you know, with the writers between takes. And I could tell that Steve actually was a little like, felt a little overloaded. Over-noted. Maybe that’s the right way to put it. He was over-noted. And I remember before one take I said, okay, Steve, what I, what I want you to do in this next take is like wipe the whole blackboard clean. That was all I said. And he goes, Oh, good. He was very relieved by that note. So.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:40:12] Well, you know, Ken, I had done an improv pilot that didn’t go. And I had done a few commercials, but this was my first steady gig as an actor. And I remember feeling such comfort when you would say, “Go ahead”. Like “Just go ahead”. And it’s something the whole cast has always talked about, how you would just say, “Go ahead”. And it was like-.
JENNA FISCHER [00:40:36] Yeah, you don’t, you don’t scream action.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:40:38] Yeah.
JENNA FISCHER [00:40:38] Will you do it for audience. Ken? We’ve talked about it.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:40:41] Will you do it?
KEN KWAPIS [00:40:43] Um. Uh. Go ahead. There’s a lot of different.
JENNA FISCHER [00:40:46] That’s it, guys.
KEN KWAPIS [00:40:46] No, no. There.
JENNA FISCHER [00:40:49] That’s the one.
KEN KWAPIS [00:40:50] There’s a lot of different versions of “Go ahead”. By the way.
JENNA FISCHER [00:40:53] There are. No, that’s true. In, like, really emotional scenes. Like there was always a lot of support in your “go ahead” for Pam. You be like, “Go ahead”. Like it’s OK. Like giving, it would give me permission. “Go ahead”.
KEN KWAPIS [00:41:08] There is a, there was a lot of, like going back to the Jedi mind trick. There are also a few versions where it’s like I’m about to say something and then I just say, “Go ahead”. Where it’s like, um, no, yeah, no go ahead.
JENNA FISCHER [00:41:20] Yes.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:41:20] Yes. Yes. You do that with your hand. You be like, “You know what? Never mind. Go ahead”. We would be like, “What? What’s happening”? Ken and I got to work together again on “Black A.F.” for Netflix. And you got to say “go ahead”. And I got to hear it. And it’s been so long, I almost, like in the scene, my character wasn’t supposed to cry in that moment, but I was like, oh, my God, I’m tearing up. I’m tearing up. Cause Ken just said “go ahead”?
KEN KWAPIS [00:41:47] By the way, one of the wonderful things about that show and our work on that show, “Black A.F.”, is I got to see you do improv in a way that I hadn’t done “The Office”, because that was as a lot of improvisation. And of course, as you both know, everyone always asks how much of “The Office” was improvised. And, of course, you know, it mainly was just brilliantly written. It just sounded improvised.
JENNA FISCHER [00:42:13] Yes. Well, listen, you guys, should we get into “Casino Night”?
ANGELA KINSEY [00:42:17] Yeah.
JENNA FISCHER [00:42:18] So “Casino Night” received critical praise. I found that in a 2011 poll conducted by the fan site “Office Tally”, fans voted “Casino Night” as their favorite all time office episode that had aired at the time. Did you have any idea while you were directing it that it would be received like that? Did you know you were directing this monumental episode within the series?
KEN KWAPIS [00:42:46] I had no idea that. I mean, you really are not sure how anything is going to come together when you’re in the middle of it. And what’s so good about “Casino Night” is, again, I feel like there’s so many story elements that are just working so well. And I also, watching it again, you know, I forgot how much of the story is about romance. You know, there’s, there’s the Dwight Angela, the beginning of that romantic story and obviously Pam and Jim. But also, you know, Michael and Jan and Carol and also seeing I can’t remember how much we’ve seen Bob Vance before “Casino Night”, but just seeing the two of them together. I don’t know. I feel like there’s, there’s, there’s all this, you know, romance in the air in this story.
JENNA FISCHER [00:43:37] Yeah.
KEN KWAPIS [00:43:37] So I really love that.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:43:38] It was kind of a date night in a way, for a lot of the couples. Ryan and Kelly as well.
KEN KWAPIS [00:43:45] Oh Ryan, Kelly. Absolutely. All those maraschino cherries. And I, I have so many favorite moments from “Casino Night”. But I have to, there’s like a couple of tiny ones I’d love to, they’re so tiny, but I love them so much. And one of them. And Angela, you talked about it after you slapped Dwight and walk away that tiny little moment before you exit frame. It’s so small. It’s so beautiful and and it’s so great that Randall kept capturing it. Take after take. But what I also love in that shot is that you see both yours and Rainn’s reaction at once. It’s a very energetic shot because you’re watching you’re, you’re kind of keeping an eye on both of you at once. It’s really great. The other tiny little moment I love is, is right before the first Darryl talking head. That’s when Steve says “Dinkin Flicka” and we cut to Craig and he gives a tiny, tiny look to the camera before we cut his talking head. It’s barely noticeable, but it’s so great. It’s almost as if, “Did the camera just see that”? It’s such a great little moment. And so there’s a lot of little beautiful little grace notes like that in the episode.
JENNA FISCHER [00:45:08] You had mentioned that scene with Jan and Jim out by the car.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:45:15] Oh yeah.
JENNA FISCHER [00:45:15] And that you positioned that very deliberately. Can you talk about that?
KEN KWAPIS [00:45:20] Yeah, I actually, I haven’t reread the scene description. I’m sure it just said that they were standing outside talking, but I, and they may have actually found this on their own. They may have literally just leaned against the car hood. Side by side and then rehearsed it. Who knows how it landed. But when I saw it, it felt so sexy. It felt like, wow, this feels, and plus, you know, Melora’s smoking a cigarette. And-
ANGELA KINSEY [00:45:45] Melora is sexy, though. She is so beautiful. You know?
KEN KWAPIS [00:45:50] Totally. She’s. No, she’s, she’s very sexy and, but she’s also, in that scene, she’s, she’s, you know, such a not good mood, which to me actually made me feel even more that this would play as an interesting mislead for the audience. Oh, maybe she’s going to, you know, maybe they’re going, I don’t know, something’s going to happen with these two and it just felt like-.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:46:13] A revenge hookup. Revenge hookup.
KEN KWAPIS [00:46:15] Exactly. A revenge hookup. No, but it just felt like that somehow. Just the two of them just leaning casually against a car hood just felt like it was the right way to go. And I also I loved it when you did the “Casino Night” podcast that you, you talked about Jan’s overnight bag in her car. And I loved Jenna what you said. You said the camera finds her overnight bag. And I was so delighted when you said that because in fact, the camera doesn’t find it. She holds it up for us to see.
JENNA FISCHER [00:46:47] Oh.
KEN KWAPIS [00:46:47] And I. And I remember this. I had a big discussion with Melora that night because in the script, and in the, Steve’s script, it says she tosses the what appears to be an overnight bag over her shoulder into the back seat. And in the first take or two, that’s what she did. She just threw it over her shoulder. And I thought, oh, I have no clue what it is that she just threw back there. What is that? So I. And this is like this tricky acting challenge. I said, you know what? I hate to say it. I think you need to kind of hold it up for me to see what it is before you throw it. And so we had a discussion about why would she pause and look at it? And we, I remember talking to her about, you know, you, that this bag is like taunting you. It’s like sort of, you know, it’s like just making fun of you, like, you know. So she did it so gracefully and, and it feels completely natural, even though it’s a totally stagy moment.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:47:44] I would have had, I had no idea. I mean, we watched it. We had no idea.
JENNA FISCHER [00:47:47] Yeah. Same.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:47:47] I thought it was totally organic. I, I mean, that’s brilliant on your part and Melora’s part.
KEN KWAPIS [00:47:52] Well, Melora pulled it off. It’s so beautiful. One of my favorite shots. Is so not a documentary type shot. And I just love it. It’s the shot of Jan and Carol side by side at the bar and Steve’s in the background, and he notices them and then he slinks out of frame and he’s framed sort of, it’s a very formal, very, you know, a like, it’s sort of very funny shot. But he’s framed right in between them. He slinks out of frame. And then moments later, he reappears deep in the background and he’s still, like, sort of monitoring them. And it’s like such a hilarious shot. I don’t have any clue what, and they’re having a dialog. Jan and Carol, I have no clue what they’re talking about. All I’m doing is watching Steve like scurrying around in the background.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:48:41] They’re ordering their drinks. And. Let’s see. Carol-.
JENNA FISCHER [00:48:46] They’re having very tense, small talk. Is what they’re doing.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:48:48] Yes. Tense small talk.
KEN KWAPIS [00:48:49] That’s what it is. Tense, small talk. But I just totally every time I see the shot, like, I go, oh, shit, I should listen to that dialog, once in a while. I’m just looking at Steve.
JENNA FISCHER [00:48:58] Now, was it-? I wonder if it was in the script that Steve was pacing in the background or if that was something you guys found on the day to fill out that scene?
KEN KWAPIS [00:49:07] The scene description says Michael approaches in the background, sees the two of them talking, and turns on his heels. And what Steve did is that he, his, his back is to them for most of the shot. And then he turns and then he doesn’t know what to do. And then he leaves frame. And it’s the reappearing in the deep background that makes it really funny.
JENNA FISCHER [00:49:30] I love that so much. He’s like is sort of stalking them a little.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:49:33] He, he doesn’t know what to do about this. This is like way too much action for him.
KEN KWAPIS [00:49:38] Another favorite memory of mine is when Creed wins the refrigerator. Because I remember staging it so that Creed’s off camera and he had off load up his sleeve full of poker chips and he had to hold his hand up. So. Or else they’d fall. And as I recall, the camera was on Bob and Phyllis, Bob Vance and Phyllis, and, and as soon as Bob announces that Creed’s the winner on, as the camera whipped over, I like gave Creed a hand’s signal so that he could lower his arm and let the chips all fall out. I al-, very fond memory of making sure he had his, the chips up in his sleeve.
JENNA FISCHER [00:50:22] So Ken, we talked a lot about all of the Jim Pam scenes in our “Casino Night” podcast and John was on and he was able to give his point of view. But we had a fan write in, Jess Marie asked, “Why did you decide to not let Jenna and John talk to one another before their kiss on ‘Casino Night’”? What was, what was in your head there when you were setting up that moment?
KEN KWAPIS [00:50:49] Well, I felt, and I know you and I have talked about this, Jenna, but we shot the kiss actually the, the night before we shot the parking lot scene, which-.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:51:00] That blew my mind, by the way. Like when, when I found that out, I was like, what?
KEN KWAPIS [00:51:06] Well, I mean, the reason is just a practical one. And that was it was the end of the week. And we saved our night exterior work for Friday night.
JENNA FISCHER [00:51:15] Yeah.
KEN KWAPIS [00:51:15] That’s all it was. So we, we alre-. So I felt like it, it was hard because how do you go into the kiss without having experienced that parking lot scene? How do you, how do you prepare for it? How do you? And so it seemed to me that maybe having some distance between the two of you might help create. I don’t know, just just this feeling that you’re kind of off balance. Because you hadn’t done the scene. Obviously, we’d read the scene. We had a table reading, but we didn’t rehearse the parking lot scene. So it was. So in a way, I was, I was, I just sort of felt like and I’m sure Greg and I discussed this and, and he may have had a different idea, but I just remember thinking, well, since we didn’t do the scene, which was, which is really that, you know, kind of a turning point in their relationship when, you know, Jim declares that he loves Pam and, and it throws everything, you know, it upends everything. Since we hadn’t done that, there might be a way just to kind of, again, create a little tension.
JENNA FISCHER [00:52:24] Well, it really worked because John told on the podcast that he was like, what happened to Jenna? Where’s Jenna? Where’d Jenna go?
ANGELA KINSEY [00:52:33] He was in his head. He was like, is she mad at me?
JENNA FISCHER [00:52:35] Yeah.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:52:35] What’s going on?
JENNA FISCHER [00:52:36] Yeah. Where did she go? And I was in my trailer just sort of sitting there feeling very separate from the crew, and normally we, you know, normally we didn’t spend a lot of time in our trailers. We sat on set with the crew while they did their lighting or we were snacking at the snack table and chatting with people. So to be sequestered really did create a whole new experience.
KEN KWAPIS [00:53:04] Well, also, I mean, once we got into the scene, I mean, the lighting was so moody and obviously the, you know, the crew was hidden. And I, and I think, and I listened to your talk with John about this. And he’s, you know, he’s right. It was weird because I was also trying to, like, underplay the whole thing. And Jenna, you and I have talked about this, that I was trying to make as little of it as possible, even though the call sheet that day said in like the all caps, “JIM KISSES PAM”. And, but I, I, I do feel like it was important that you guys be off balance.
JENNA FISCHER [00:53:43] Yeah.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:53:44] Well, it worked. It worked. I mean beautifully. So.
KEN KWAPIS [00:53:47] I also remember the discussion about whether to have a second camera to capture in effect to your side of the kiss, Jenna. And I. And, and, and I do remember, as you guys mentioned, that Randall was totally opposed to it. He’s absolutely right. There should definitely only be one camera. And what I also remember, though, was I had a, I was wrestling with whether or not to ask John to come further into the room when he came towards you, because if he did, if he came, affect-, in effect, if he came downstage a little more, it would force you to open up the camera. And the shot would then be like the two of you in complete profile facing each other. And, you know, it’s like, how do you, how do you shoot a-? How do you stage and how do you photographic a kiss? And that’s, you know, very classic Hollywood. You know, Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart facing each other on the tarmac. You know, it’s like. So, but I decided at the last moment that that wasn’t our show. That, that would be, that that would be too Hollywood-y for our show. And so we shot it. And I remember first of all, I was probably, you know, crying, watching the scene. But I remember thinking that the other reason the camera angle was so good, so appropriate was that Jim knows what he’s about to do. Jim has such a strong intention. He’s coming there to kiss Pam. But that Pam is unaware of it and is surprised and we’re surprised. So the camera angle really kind of puts us in Pam’s shoes and sort of we are Pam. You know? We’re surprised by it as well. So it felt like another angle would have really hurt the way we are involved in that moment.
JENNA FISCHER [00:55:44] But then we had to re-stage it.
KEN KWAPIS [00:55:46] Oh, my God. I know. That was so weird.
JENNA FISCHER [00:55:49] We had to wait all summer to find out Pam’s reaction. And then the only way to get it was to re-stage that whole moment. Was that so hard as a director to recreate a moment so that it seemed like it was just playing out? I mean, I kind of don’t even know how we did it. A lot of people wrote in asking. Wait. Did you film the beginning of “Gay Witch Hunt” on the “Casino Night”?
ANGELA KINSEY [00:56:12] Right.
JENNA FISCHER [00:56:12] You just waited and you saved the footage and it was like, no, we completely recreated it and let it play out.
KEN KWAPIS [00:56:19] I remember being surprised when I saw the “Gay Witch Hunt” script, because we, I mean, we hadn’t gotten. I mean, this script, I don’t think was written when we shot “Casino Night”.
JENNA FISCHER [00:56:29] Yeah.
KEN KWAPIS [00:56:29] So. And I do remember going, oh, my gosh, we got to do that again. Because I thought it was such an emotional. It was, you know, it was so kind of draining for everyone. Not in a bad way. But it was just emotional and, but it, I remember it being a lot, you know, a lot breezier of a job to recreate it, you know, because there-.
JENNA FISCHER [00:56:53] Yeah. The redo was not nearly as as heavy. Feeling.
KEN KWAPIS [00:56:56] No. No.
JENNA FISCHER [00:56:57] Ken, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today.
KEN KWAPIS [00:57:00] Thank you. I had such a blast. It’s so great to see both of you. And I just so happy I’m part of this show.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:57:11] Well, you have to come back, OK? I mean, listen, we’ve got a few years here. We’re gonna be hitting you up with some questions.
KEN KWAPIS [00:57:19] OK. Well, I will put in a request for when you get to “Company Picnic”, Jenna, I think we need to have a discussion about your volleyball skills.
JENNA FISCHER [00:57:31] Yes. We will have you back for “Company Picnic”. For sure. You guys, I want to tell you that Ken is without a doubt one of the very best directors I’ve ever worked with. I feel so fortunate to have worked with you, Ken.
KEN KWAPIS [00:57:46] Thank you.
JENNA FISCHER [00:57:47] And he has a book coming out. It is called “But What I really Want to Do is Direct: Lessons From a Life Behind the Camera”. It comes out October 6, but it is available for preorder now on Amazon. I got an advance copy, so I’ve already read it. Oh, please, guys, if you’re an aspiring director, if you want to know more about just the experience of what it’s really like to direct, please pick up Ken’s book. But also, I mean, there’s so much about your philosophy in this book that could really just be applied to life in general, Ken. It’s, it’s a beautiful book.
KEN KWAPIS [00:58:24] Thank you. Thank you. It was such a pleasure to write. And I’m so excited to get it out there.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:58:32] I can’t wait to get mine. And then I’m going to text you about it. So get ready for your phone to blow up.
JENNA FISCHER [00:58:39] I have found a quote about your book from Larry Wilmore. He’s one of our writers. And I’m going to read it to everybody. Ok?
ANGELA KINSEY [00:58:46] Ok. Do it. Do it.
JENNA FISCHER [00:58:47] It says, “‘Action’ is what most directors bark out to begin a scene. But Ken Kwapis starts by gently intoning the words, ‘Go ahead’. That simple suggestion assures everyone they’re in smart, capable, humble hands. And that’s how you’ll feel reading his book. And so if you’re anxious to discover how a top director always brings humor, honesty and humanity to his work. All I can tell you is, ‘Go ahead’”. Perfect. Perfect.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:59:17] Larry Wilmore. That is so beautiful, Ken.
JENNA FISCHER [00:59:20] And so true.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:59:21] So true.
KEN KWAPIS [00:59:23] Thank you. Thank you. And all I can say is, I’m going to keep listening to this podcast. I so enjoy weekly getting to listen to both of you, so.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:59:35] Aw.
JENNA FISCHER [00:59:36] Aw. Thank you.
KEN KWAPIS [00:59:36] Well, I’d love to come back.
JENNA FISCHER [00:59:38] Good. Good.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:59:38] Well, we would love to have you back.
JENNA FISCHER [00:59:41] And guys, we’re going to put Ken’s book up on our website, OfficeLadies.com. You can find it there. But like we said, it’s also on Amazon. But if you’re looking for a quick link, you can head over to our website and we will link to it there and in the show notes.
ANGELA KINSEY [00:59:52] Thank you, Ken, we love you.
JENNA FISCHER [00:59:54] Love ya.
KEN KWAPIS [00:59:55] I love both of you. And I hope to see you soon.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:00:06] I mean, who is better than Ken Kwapis?
JENNA FISCHER [01:00:08] Nobody.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:00:09] Nobody.
JENNA FISCHER [01:00:10] He’s the best.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:00:11] He’s the best. I love him so much. Ken, I have saved several of your Christmas cards. Is that weird? Love you. OK. So we have just a few more things to discuss, Jenna.
JENNA FISCHER [01:00:24] OK.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:00:24] Latamania wrote in and said, “Something I’m curious about. Pam often fussed with her engagement ring, most noticeably when Jim walks away after his big confession. Was that a script direction or was that Jenna’s own added touch”?
JENNA FISCHER [01:00:41] Latamania, you are always so thoughtful with your questions. They always stand out to me. Thank you for asking. You know, Latamania is the artist who does all of the beautiful drawings of scenes from “The Office”. We’ve talked about her.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:00:54] Yes.
JENNA FISCHER [01:00:55] On the podcast before. Ok, so that was not in the script. That is something I do in my life. I’m a bit of a fidgeter. But I did make a conscious decision for the character of Pam to futz with her engagement ring to Roy while in that scene with Jim, because, you know, that ring that she feels on her finger is why she’s not saying what she really wants to say.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:01:20] Oh, that’s good, lady. That’s so good.
JENNA FISCHER [01:01:23] So that was that was an acting choice.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:01:26] I think that’s so good.
JENNA FISCHER [01:01:28] Well, listen, I loved that question. I appreciated that you noticed my little acting choice there. That means a lot to me, actually. I like that, you know, I tried to put those details into the character and into my performance, and it always feels really good when people notice, so thanks.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:01:43] Yeah.
JENNA FISCHER [01:01:44] Also, lady, we got a ton of mail about your “Big Brother, Kid Sister” bit with John.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:01:51] I know.
JENNA FISCHER [01:01:52] OK, so Ang, remember how you and John were talking on the podcast and you were trying to remember what the actual name of the boy doll was called and we couldn’t remember?
ANGELA KINSEY [01:02:01] Yeah.
JENNA FISCHER [01:02:01] Well, a lot of people wrote in. Karen, Tom, K Willie 1, all said the boy doll’s name is My Buddy. And Angela, not only that, the original commercial is still on YouTube.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:02:18] Oh, I know. I went and watched it, guys. I went and watched it. Could we play a little bit of that?
MY BUDDY COMMERCIAL [01:02:33] My Buddy. My Buddy. My Buddy. My Buddy. My Buddy and me. Kid Sister. Kid Sister. Kid Sister. Kid Sister. Wherever I go.
JENNA FISCHER [01:02:37] There it is. Big Buddy. Kid Sister. Angela-.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:02:37] My Buddy. My Buddy.
JENNA FISCHER [01:02:40] What did I say?
ANGELA KINSEY [01:02:40] You said “Big Buddy”.
JENNA FISCHER [01:02:44] Oh my gosh. We will never get, we literally just listen to it and it’s not landing on me. But here’s, it, I can only hear “Big Brother, Kid Sister” because that’s what you and John did for so long on set. But Angela, here is what creeped me out when I watched that commercial and I saw that doll. My God, it looks like you.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:03:02] Oh, come on.
JENNA FISCHER [01:03:03] Lady, braid your hair. And you are Kid Sister. It is.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:03:09] Well, John is who started it. He said to me, he called me Kid Sister. And then clearly, classic Kinsey I got it wrong. And I went Big Brother instead of My Buddy.
JENNA FISCHER [01:03:22] Well, he nailed it on Kid Sister because the resemblance is eerie.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:03:27] Well, I guess I’m just going to have to go get one.
JENNA FISCHER [01:03:30] Don’t get one. It will scare people in your home if they come upon it. It’ll be like you putting a Chucky doll in your house. You can’t do it.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:03:39] I’m going to get one and I’m going to put it by my mailbox.
JENNA FISCHER [01:03:43] Don’t. I thought you were going to say you’re going to put it in my window or something. And I’d like, ahhh! Why is Angela there?
ANGELA KINSEY [01:03:49] Now, I have to tell you.
JENNA FISCHER [01:03:51] No. Don’t you dare.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:03:51] How do you, how do you prank someone in a pandemic?
JENNA FISCHER [01:03:54] That’s how.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:03:55] You get a creepy doll and set it outside their window.
JENNA FISCHER [01:03:58] A creepy doll that looks just like you.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:04:01] Yeah.
JENNA FISCHER [01:04:02] All right, guys, we also got some mail that is not specific to “Casino Night”.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:04:07] OK.
JENNA FISCHER [01:04:07] “Why do some characters on the show have character names like Pam, Jim, Roy, Dwight? And some have their real names. Oscar Creed. Angela Phyllis”.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:04:20] We get this question. I would say the most. It’s one of the-.
JENNA FISCHER [01:04:23] In the mailbox.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:04:24] Every single week.
JENNA FISCHER [01:04:24] Yeah.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:04:25] Every single week. So I feel like we have maybe answered this before, but we want to take it again.
JENNA FISCHER [01:04:31] We do. We answered it in one of our “Candy Bag” episodes. But we’re gonna answer it here because we really feel like people want to know.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:04:39] Well, listen, you know, we had asked Greg about this and he said, obviously some characters are based on characters from the original British office. Right? Jim and Pam and Dwight. And then there were these new characters and it was myself and Oscar. They, we weren’t in the original and they just used our names and just kind of, it stuck.
JENNA FISCHER [01:05:03] I think, what’s interesting, Angela. Did Greg ask your permission to use your name or did he just name you Angela?
ANGELA KINSEY [01:05:10] No. No one said anything. The only conversation I ever remember having is, he asked me if I had any pitches for my last name.
JENNA FISCHER [01:05:21] Oh.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:05:21] And, and I did pitch “Martin”. But this was several episodes in. I was already Angela. And then we were talking about, well, what, what would your last name be? And I wrote down a list of them and one of them was Martin. And that cleared.
JENNA FISCHER [01:05:34] Is that significant to you in some way? Is Martin a family name or something?
ANGELA KINSEY [01:05:40] No, I just was trying to think. I thought it was interesting that Kevin was Kevin Malone and Oscar was Oscar Martinez. And then I’d be Angela Martin. We’d be the three M’s. And then we for years had a running joke that our spinoff would be the accountants go have their own firm called M, M and M.
JENNA FISCHER [01:05:59] I love it. I love it. Well, there you have it, guys. That’s, that’s why some people have their real names and some people have character names. Nothing like their name.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:06:11] Yeah, I think the writers just were like, ah, we’ll use their names. It’s really not probably that interesting of a story, but there you go.
JENNA FISCHER [01:06:19] Guys. Thank you so much for sending in your questions. This was so much fun. I loved this revisited episode, Angela.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:06:28] Honestly, one of our favorite things that that we do is get to read comments and interact with you guys. And I just love that. I love “The Office”. Jenna and I obviously loved the show. So we love getting to interact with fans that also loved it and have questions and comments and things that you caught that we missed. I love all of it.
JENNA FISCHER [01:06:48] I also really like the idea of being able to deep dive with some of like the original visionaries for the show. Like we have to get Dave Rodgers, our editor. We’ve got to get Carey Bennett, who designed our wardrobe Season 1 in the beginning and, and like Randall Einhorn, our cinematographer. Kent-opedia.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:07:06] Kent-opedia.
JENNA FISCHER [01:07:06] Kent-opedia.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:07:08] We have to get Kent-opedia.
JENNA FISCHER [01:07:10] OK. So-.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:07:11] Yes.
JENNA FISCHER [01:07:11] I don’t know what we’re going to call these, but from time to time we’re gonna give you, what do we want to call it, Angela? A Deep Dive? A Revisited? We’ll figure it out.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:07:18] You guys, actually tell us. If we do an episode like this again, shall we call it “The Deep Dive”? Or “The Revisited”? I like “The Deep Dive”.
JENNA FISCHER [01:07:27] Well, I mean, you’ve got to deep, you’ve got to dive. You put ’em together. You get a deep dive!
ANGELA KINSEY [01:07:33] No, no, no.
JENNA FISCHER [01:07:34] What? That’s, my son did that. My son. That’s my son. Angela. And you’re like, no, no.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:07:44] That is horrible. No, I’m kidding. Oh my gosh, hilarious. Ok.
JENNA FISCHER [01:07:50] Ok, so guys, keep sending in your questions. We have folders over on OfficeLadies.com to submit questions for specific episodes. You can also send us an email at OfficeLadies@Earwolf.com.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:08:03] Yes, we love engaging with you on our social media. You can follow us over at OfficeLadiesPod on Instagram. And thank you so much to Ken Kwapis. And thank you guys so much for listening in.
JENNA FISCHER [01:08:15] Yeah. We’ll be back next week with “The Merger”. Thank you for listening to “Office Ladies”. “Office Ladies” is produced by Earwolf, Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey. Our producer is Codi Fischer, our sound engineer Sam Kieffer.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:08:29] And our theme song is “Rubber Tree” by Creed Bratton.
JENNA FISCHER [01:08:32] For ad free versions of the show and our bonus episodes, “Candy Bag”. Go to StitcherPremium.com.
ANGELA KINSEY [01:08:38] For a free one month trial of Stitcher Premium, use code “Office”.
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