The Office ‘Murder’ Q&A with Danny Chun

What mystery game locale did they almost use instead of Savannah? Which line did Steve Carell improvise? What were Meredith’s brain chunks made of? And most importantly, what was the hamster’s name?

These questions and many, many more are answered by The Office’s Danny Chun, writer for the episode Murder. Thank you, Danny!

Q. Were the accents we saw make it to air fully scripted as such or did the actors play around with it? | phyllis*farm

Danny: The script had parentheticals like “(Savannah Accent)” or “(Bad Southern Accent)”, but the particulars of the accents were all up to the actors. Oscar’s accent was all him — we did about 6 takes and most of the time he was doing a really deep voice. On the last take, he did it high and it killed us.
Q. How long did it take to work on everyone’s southern accents? | Roscoet 

Danny: No time at all. I didn’t coach the accents whatsoever. Good thing, too, because as Mindy is so eager to tell people, I suck at accents.

We played a murder mystery game in the writers’ room to get a feel for it, and I was a Frenchman, and Mindy seemed pretty entertained by how bad I was. (For the record, I was great.)

Q. When the gang wasn’t shooting did any of the actors keep their accents going? | Vicky87

Danny: A little bit. The crew got pretty into the accents though — they made one of our shoot days “Talk Like a Southerner Day.” It was pretty funny to hear someone’s bad Southern drawl coming over the walkie talkie.

Q. What was the inspiration/how did you come up with the voice Michael used when he said “That would be hilarious” when he was on the phone with Dunder Mifflin Corporate? | Allie

Danny: In the script, it just says “(Valley Girl).” I just thought that in a time of great stress, Michael would be tapping a pretty hacky comedy vein. And it seemed like a valley girl voice would be what Michael thinks would disarm Wallace’s secretary.

Q. Andy says something along the lines as “that’s more of a Florida panhandle…” Where did you get the inspiration for this line? | kyle

Danny: In my first draft, he does an Atlanta accent and then a Savannah accent, and they’re both kinda bad and sound very similar. But Paul thought that Andy might be very good at accents. So we changed it, and then while shooting, Ed threw out a few different options, including Florida panhandle. In other words, All Me.

Q. Where did you get the idea for such a ridiculous (yet hilarious and classic Michael) premise? Have you ever participated in such a game? | Morgan

Danny: I honestly don’t know whose idea it was for Michael to pull out a murder mystery game. I asked around and nobody remembered. My best guess is, a ghost wrote it on the mirror with its icy breath.

I’d never played a game like that, but we played one as research. It was basically impossible to solve. I was the killer. Mindy’s character was, Person Who Teases Others About Their Accents Even Though They Are Doing Their Best.

Q. Can you tell us more about coming up with the game, ridiculous names and props, the cassette etc? Did other writers get in on making up parts of the game? | what’s the dealio?

Danny: The game is actually a pretty faithful adaptation of the murder mystery games we bought as research. They all have silly pun names and a CD with a narrator doing a hokey accent.

Originally, we were going to do a “Murder in Little Italy” theme, but then we realized that might be too similar to the Mafia episode. So we pitched on a few other themes and liked Savannah.

As for the specifics of the game, I am proud to say the pun names were all mine. The props (and the game itself) were designed by our awesome props department.