Would The Office have been the same beloved show if it blew up its central couple, Pam and Jim? Without holding a crystal ball, it’s hard to say, but we have a feeling that’s a hard “no” for many fans out there. It was definitely a hard “no” for John Krasinski, at any rate.
In Brian Baumgartner’s new tell-all book, Welcome to Dunder Mifflin: The Ultimate Oral History of The Office, Krasinski opens up about a storyline that almost happened between his character, Jim, and Pam (Jenna Fischer). He was absolutely not okay with it.
When Pam was on maternity leave in Season 8, her replacement Cathy (Lindsey Broad) and Jim were in a Florida hotel room together. In the original “After Hours” script, the pair was going to make out. But when Krasinski read that little twist, he went straight to show creator Greg Daniels and said nope.
“That’s the only time I remember putting my foot down… I remember saying things that I never thought I’d say before, like, ‘I’m not going to shoot it,’” Krasinski recalls to Baumgartner, who played Kevin Malone in the series.
“There is a threshold with which you can push our audience. They are so dedicated. We have shown such great respect to them. But there’s a moment where if you push them too far, they’ll never come back. And I think that if you show Jim cheating, they’ll never come back,” he explained.
Obviously, Daniels ultimately agreed with Krasinski since that portion of the scene was scrapped. However, Daniels was adamant they needed to come up with a good spicy storyline for the couple, and Krasinski was on board with a little drama, at least.
“I said, 'I think we should get borderline separated, and I think we can do it and then come back,'" Krasinski says. "He was so on board with that."
That’s probably why Cathy tried to seduce Jim in that same episode instead, but it all ended in disaster when Jim tricked Dwight (Rainn Wilson) into spraying Cathy for bed bugs. Afterward, Jim wound up bunking with Dwight.
Cathy wasn’t the only twist The Office threw at PB & J shippers towards the end of the series though. Let’s not forget Brian the boom guy (played by Chris Diamantopoulos), who showed up to comfort Pam when things got rough between her and Jim in the final, ninth season.
“I feel like that kind of worry was good in terms of the fans’ engagement. I think they knew what was coming,” Daniels reveals in the book. “They were very comfortable with the show they were getting, and I needed to worry them that maybe I was going to give them a bad ending so they were happy when they got a good ending.”
Baumgartner, who definitely has an inside track on such gossip and even has a whole podcast on it, drops way more than that tidbit in the new book. Like the fact Kristin Wiig originally auditioned for the role of Pam, and that this year’s Sexiest Man Alive, Paul Rudd, originally advised buddy Steve Carell against starring in the series.
"I remember, before I auditioned, I was talking to Paul Rudd," Steve Carell says. "I'd never seen the original one and he asked what I was up to. This was right after Anchorman. I told him I was going to audition for the American version of The Office and he said, 'Ugh, don't do it. Bad, bad move. I mean, it's never going to be as good.' Like what everybody was saying."
Welcome to Dunder Mifflin: The Ultimate Oral History of The Office, which dropped November 16, is based on hundreds of hours of interviews (some from Baumgartner’s An Oral History of The Office podcast) with those who helped bring the show to life.
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