Jenna Fischer shot to fame playing Pam Beesley on The Office. And even several years after the show came to end, she’s still remembered for it. For her 45th birthday Fischer went on Busy Tonight to promote her new TV sitcom Splitting Up Together, and there she got a nice birthday surprise from her former co-stars. But the biggest shock was saved until last…
The Office, based on the BBC series of the same name, was a slow-starter that eventually became a massive hit. After a difficult first season, the next four of them were lauded by critics. The show picked up several gongs, including four Primetime Emmys and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.
“Honestly it would be great to get to play Pam for a long, long time,” Fischer told her alma mater, Truman State University, in 2005. “I don’t have real big aspirations to be a movie star. I would love to be on a long-running hit TV show. You end up playing a defining role.” She was completely correct about that.
The character of Pam became a popular one. Through The Office’s nine seasons audiences watched her grow from someone shy into someone confident, advance in her career, and eventually get married. Her romance with Jim Halpert, played by John Krasinki, was a high point of the series.
In 2016, while appearing on Watch What Happens Live, Fischer revealed how deep her relationship with her onscreen husband went. “John and I have real chemistry,” she told the audience. “There’s like a real part of me that is Pam and a real part of him that’s Jim and those parts of us were genuinely in love with one another.”
“In real life, we aren’t totally Pam and totally Jim, so in real life we’re not the perfect match,” she went on. In fact, both are married to other people – Fischer to screenwriter Lee Kirk and Krasinki to actress Emily Blunt. But Fischer’s view was, “He was like a type of spouse that I had for a long time. He was my partner and we will always be close because of it.”
In fact, Fischer remained close to all her co-stars after The Office came to an end. In particular she remains close to Angela Kinsey, who played Angela Martin on the show. Both of them share pictures of them together on Instagram, and refer to each other as “bffs.” They even have matching hoodies!
Some of the cast of The Office went on to become huge stars. John Krasinki, who helped produce and sometimes directed the show in addition to playing Jim, saw his career take a leap forward in 2018 when he created and starred in horror movie A Quiet Place. Krasinki also landed the lead role in TV series Jack Ryan, now in its second season, on the back of that movie’s success.
There are plenty of other The Office success stories. Mindy Kaling’s star climbed ever higher throughout her stint on the show. She wasn’t only an actress but a writer as well, and in 2010 she gained a Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series. Since then she’s starred in The Mindy Project, Inside Out, A Wrinkle in Time, and many more.
However, of all The Office stars Steve Carell, who played Michael Scott, probably won most acclaim. The show was renewed for a second season off the back of anticipated success for his film The 40-Year-Old Virgin – a leap of faith that definitely paid off. Although Carell left The Office before it ended, he now has an Oscar nomination and nine Golden Globe nominations for his acting work.
One of the most touching moments of the series ended up being between Carell and Fischer. In “Goodbye, Michael,” the final episode featuring Michael Scott as a regular character, he goes to the airport to leave for Colorado. However, Pam hurries to meet him there so she can say a proper farewell.
But by the time Pam catches up with Michael, both characters have their microphones off, so the audience doesn’t get to hear what they’re saying. All anyone can see as that it’s something touching. The words between them might have remained a mystery forever, but Fischer finally told the world in a May 2018 Q&A session on Instagram.
“That was me talking to Steve,” she announced to an audience on Instagram Live. “I told him all the ways I was going to miss him when he left our show. Those were real tears and a real goodbye. That was a really emotional scene.” Awww! Fans reacted to the news with yet more tears and sadness.
In October 2018, Carell also got to talk about the scene. He said much the same as Fischer had done. “It was basically just the two of us saying goodbye and crying, like, “I’m going to miss you.” “It’s going to be okay.” That sort of thing,” he told Esquire magazine. “I don’t remember the specific words, but it wasn’t like small talk. It wasn’t, ‘Is the camera still rolling?’ It was an actual moment between us.”
Even though The Office ended in 2013, fans of the show still hope desperately that one day their beloved program might get a reunion special. As it happens, Carell entertained that idea on a November 2018 episode of Saturday Night Live… and then immediately quashed it, albeit in an amusing way.
Some of his Office co-stars joined him for the skit. “It was a great experience, I love all those people but I just don’t think it’s the best idea. I think maybe we should just leave it alone.” Carrell announced. “I don’t think it would be as good this time around.” Then Ellie Kemper, who played Erin, unexpectedly stood up in the audience.
“People would really love to see an Office reboot,” she announced, and the audience agreed with her. “Especially me, ’cause I really need that money. Let’s get that money, Steve!” Alas, Carrell turned her down. “Uh, I’m sorry Ellie, I just don’t think it’s a good idea,” he said. “You’re a jerk,” she hilariously snapped back.
Then it was the turn of Ed Helms, who portrayed Andy Bernard in the show. “I just don’t think you understand how much money we’re talking about,” he told Carrell. “Like, you wouldn’t have to do all those sad movies any more.” Carrell suggested the cast have a reunion party instead. “We already do that,” Helms joked. “We just don’t invite you.”
Then Fischer popped up all of a sudden. “Steve, do you remember the last words that Pam secret-whispered to Michael as she left for Denver?” she asked him, referring to a famous scene on the show. “Not really,” Carell answered. “Okay. She said, ‘Steve, don’t be a dick, do the reboot.” But alas, it was to no avail.
A reboot was not announced. But just to show there were no hard feelings, the four former The Office stars posed for a picture afterwards. Fischer posted it on her Instagram with the caption “Love these nerds.” Kemper did the same thing, with her caption reading “Well there you have it babes.”
But there was another mini-reunion a month later. In December 2018, Fischer tweeted a picture of herself with many of The Office main players: Rainn Wilson, Creed Bratton, Angela Kinsey, Ed Helms, Leslie David Baker, Oscar Nunez, Brian Baumgartner, Paul Lieberstein and executive producer Greg Daniels.
“I had brunch with these oddballs today,” Fischer wrote alongside the photo. “Love you #officemates #theoffice.” When Kinsey posted a different take of the picture, she wrote something even more touching. “I turned to Ed [Helms] and said, ‘I feel like we are at a family reunion.’ He smiled and said, ‘We are.’”
Obviously Carell wasn’t there, but no, it wasn’t really because he hadn’t been invited. Kinsey gave a shout-out to him and the other absent co-stars: “For those who couldn’t make it… you were missed!” she wrote. Carell shortly retweeted the picture on his Twitter with a response: “Miss you guys.”
Despite Carell constantly seeming to say no to the idea, there’s still a little hope for a new episode of The Office, according to Ellie Kemper at least. “I feel like we could convince Steve Carell to do one episode,” she said to Entertainment Weekly magazine in February 2019. “Maybe people could be convinced to do that. I’m not speaking for them, but in my dream, maybe we could do one reunion.”
That reunion episode hasn’t yet materialized, and who knows if it ever will? But The Office aficionados, especially fans of Fischer and Pam, got a nice surprise on Busy Tonight at the end of February. Fischer was appearing on the TV chatshow to promote her new comedy Splitting Up Together.
In addition, it was close to the date of Fischer’s 45th birthday. To celebrate the milestone, host Busy Philipps arranged something exciting. “We wanted to do one of those live unboxings like the YouTubers do,” Philips told Fischer. “But to make it even more fun… I asked some of your co-stars from The Office to send special gifts.”
Fischer had to guess which cast member had sent her which present, and she made an impressive fits of the challenge. First up was a glass jar full of snacks, and Fischer knew the gift-sender immediately. “This is from Ellie Kemper! These are raisin crisps from Trader Joe’s,” she announced delightedly.
“During an episode they had these on set, and she and I ate about four boxes of them,” Fischer confessed. “Now you have to figure out how to make them at home, I think,” Philipps said. Then Fischer moved onto present number two, which turned out to be a t-shirt with a picture of a bread loaf on it.
“This one seems obvious, because it says ‘To Jenna from your BFF,” Fischer said as she opened it. It was indeed from Angela Kinsey. “When I texted Ange she was like ‘Oh, funnily enough I was just Googling bread shirts,” Philipps said. “She like immediately texted me a link… so I knew she really was Googling bread shirts!”
“Oh my god, that is amazing,” Fischer said. “You know, my husband did sit me down recently and he was like ‘Honey, the bread, is it getting a little out of control?’ I don’t know what to tell you, babe.” But there were even more gifts, and non-bread-related ones at that, to come.
The next gift was a banjo. “This is from Ed Helms!” Fischer announced happily. Then she shared another anecdote from The Office set. “Creed [Bratton] played guitar and Ed played banjo and they would play during lunch. Angela and I would have lunch and listen to them play.”
Finally Philipps showed Fischer her last present. “This is your final one, and it’s really big, but it is your birthday next week so we wanted it to be special,” she said. Fischer pulled the lid off the enormous cardboard box – and then immediately screamed, because Steve Carell was inside it.
Fischer had an emotional reaction to discovering her old co-star hiding in a box for her. She was both shocked from the unexpected surprise and happy to see a friend. She even cried a little, but there were also hugs all round. Philips also asked Carell if he was all right, seeing as how he’d been wedged inside a closed box for some time.
Later Philipps got both Fischer and Carrell on her sofa and talked about the prank. “I hate being scared and I don’t love scaring people, so I didn’t think that through,” she told Fischer. “I wasn’t expecting a human being to be in the box!” Fischer said. “And on top of that I was not expecting that human being to be Steve.”
“And also, Steve, you were in there for quite some time, so I’m sorry for that!” Philipps told him. “No, I enjoyed the conversation,” Carell said, to laughter from the audience. And then Philipps went onto a question the audience may well have been hoping she would ask: had there been any more discussion of a The Office reunion?
“I know that there’s been a lot of The Office reunion rumors because you guys posted that photo on Insta, everybody was really excited,” Philipps said. Then she gestured to both of them. “So is this it? This is it, right?” “We’re doing it right now!” Fischer announced to the audience.
“Steve, what’s next for you?” Philipps asked the movie star after some chit-chat with both of he guests. “Nothing!” Carell told her jokingly. “Another box in your future? Another unboxing?” Fischer asked him. Carell answered in the affirmative: “I’m appearing in boxes all over the place!”
“I wanna let you know that box is yours whenever you want to come back and surprise any of my guests,” Philipps told Carell. “It’s just for you!” However, as fun as that would be, Carell may not have the time to do so for a while. He’s got two other TV shows coming up, Top of the Morning for Apple and Space Force for Netflix.
And Fischer is keeping herself busy as well. She’s got Splitting Up Together to be working on now, and she also has a family to raise. She had her first child with Lee Kirk in 2011 – the pregnancy was written into The Office for her character that year – and her second baby in 2014.
There may or may not ever be a true The Office reunion. So many of the cast members have moved onto other things that it might be tricky getting them all back together. But in the meantime it’s heartwarming to see that the cast members remain good friends. Such good friends, in fact, that they’re willing to lurk in cardboard boxes just to prank each other!