Emotions were running high on Wednesday when members of the media dropped by the set of The Office for one last visit with the cast of the departing comedy.
Most of the press conference-style interview with stars John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Rainn Wilson and showrunner Greg Daniels, to name a few, was spent reminiscing about the past nine years. But the group did drop a few select, series-ending scooplets, including the names of some returning familiar faces (alas, not Steve Carell), a tease for a shocking ouster of sorts and more.
ROAD TO WRAP-UP | Daniels had advice for lapsed fans who might be waiting until the very end to tune back in: Hop back on board now. “If you look at how many characters we have here and you think that [the finale] will be our 200th half hour, I don’t think we are planning on packing everything into the last episode,” he explained. In fact, the installment airing a week from this Thursday marks “the beginning of the end, where we start to break down what’s going on with this documentary and see [the] behind the scenes of who’s involved.”
IN-FLUX FINALE | As for what fans can expect in The Office‘s final hour, even Daniels isn’t completely sure. “There’s an idea,” he noted, “but it’s a very collaborative process. Every time we have a table read and somebody comes up with a better idea than we have in the script, it pulls the story forward a little bit and we have to invent something at the end.” He added, “We do have a goal that we’re aiming for, how we get there is changing.”
SHOCKING SENDOFF | “Someone is fired” in Episode 15, Daniels revealed, adding only: “There’s drama, and someone has to pay for it.”
THAT’S WHAT HE SAID… AGAIN | Once more, Daniels reasserted that Carell would not return to his old stomping grounds before the series’ swan song. (Bummer.) The showrunner maintained that “Steve is very much of the opinion that the ‘Goodbye Michael’ episode and the story arc that we did leading up to it was his goodbye and end to the show, and that [this season] is the goodbye the rest of the show gets to have.” So presently, there still aren’t “any plans for him to come back.” Cushioning the blow a bit, the EP promised: “There are still a lot of good things that we have planned for the rest of the goodbyes,” including giving each character his or her own “really good, interesting sendoff.”
WELCOME BACK, KALING & CO. | Carell, Schmarell! The Office‘s final installments will see comebacks from more than a few friendly faces. “In an upcoming episode, Zach Woods (Gabe) comes back,” Daniels shared. “Mindy [Kaling] and B.J. [Novak] should be in the finale, and we’re talking about possibly another episode — although Mindy’s in production of [The Mindy Project].” Ken Kwapis, who directed the series’ pilot episode, among others, will also return to direct the two-part finale.
LOVERS’ QUARREL | As we previously reported, expect “some conflict” between Andy and Erin when the Ivy League grad is back in town, Ed Helms previews. “I mean, he left her on a boat for a long time,” Ellie Kemper added with a laugh. “There’s room for tension.”
And in non-spoilery news, the cast took some time to look back at the past nine years and shared some of their favorite moments and lessons learned. As a huge fan of The Office, I felt obliged to pass their sentiments along.
ON DUNDER MIFFLIN TRINKETS THEY’D LIKE TO KEEP
ED HELMS | “I actually really want Andy’s Cornell diploma for some reason. I really like that.”
ANGELA KINSEY | “I have my eye on about three of Angela’s cat figurines.”
PHYLLIS SMITH | “I want my first Dundie, for ‘Bushiest Beaver.'”
JENNA FISHCER | “I want Pam’s watercolor that Michael bought at her art show. And the receptionist sign — even though I don’t sit there anymore.”
RAINN WILSON | “I want Dwight’s car.”
ON THEIR FAVORITE EPISODES :
ELLIE KEMPER | “Mine was ‘Dinner Party.'”
KINSEY | “I love the first Christmas episode. That’s one of my all-time favorites. We had Yankee Swap and Angela Martin got that poster of the babies.”
WILSON | “I like ‘The Injury’ from Season 2. I know that’s a big fan favorite as well, but it’s just such a classic in my mind. Dwight getting in a car accident and throwing up on his car, [and] his personality changing and forming a friendship with Pam…”
FISCHER | I was going to say ‘The Injury’ as well. I really love the episodes where Pam and Dwight become friends. We just did one, actually, where Pam and Dwight team up for a common goal, and while we were shooting it I realized this is probably the last one of those stories we’ll do… You can only have so many, right?”
ON WHY THEY’VE STUCK WITH THE SHOW SO LONG, EVEN WITH BIG-SCREEN SUCCESSES
JOHN KRASINSKI | “I think that this show and this job is a gift, [and] we all knew it from the beginning. We feel so lucky. It sounds cliche, but it’s totally true. This is one of those jobs that you don’t wait until your time’s over; you beg every single year to come back and you hold on to the cuff of people’s pants until they bring you back. [Laughs] It’s more exciting than anything else to come back to this show. It’s not something you give up on. It feels like you’re all in it together. I don’t think I ever felt a moment of anybody feeling like this was [just] an opportunity for bigger things. If bigger things came, great, and we’d all fully support it. But to come back was the real dream and the real goal. I felt more honored to be a part of this show than anything else I’ve done.”
ON HOW THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME
FISCHER | “We still feel about each other — and see each other — through the eyes of those first-season relationships… It seems the same.”
WILSON | “John [Krasinski] and Jenna [Fischer] and Steve [Carell] and I went out to lunch when we were shooting the pilot and we were having this conversation about, ‘Can you imagine if the show got picked up? How cool that would be?’ And one of us said, ‘What if it went for a season or more? What if we actually did a full run of this show?!’ We [all knew] that it would change our lives and would be incredible and that these are the roles we’d be known for for the rest of our lives. It’s so weird now, nine years later, [having] that lunch coming true. People have asked me what I’m going to miss most and it’s really clear to me: This is my other family. This is where I’ve been coming for nine years, and I love all of these people. We’ve grown up together; we’ve had children, we’ve gotten married, we’ve gotten divorced, we’ve cried together, we’ve fought a little bit — not like Grey’s Anatomy [Laughs] — and that’s really what I’ll miss the most. We went from goofy kids nine years ago to the giant, megalomaniac TV stars you see in front of you. [Laughs]”