‘Threat Level Midnight’ Q&A with B.J. Novak

BusinessSchool: Did the actors look back at footage at all to get back into that time period of their characters?

Chloe: Was it difficult “making over” the actors to look like themselves five years ago?

SaidTheActressToTheBishop: I noticed during Pam and Jim’s talking head, there was a clip of Ryan, Pam, Jim, Michael, Dwight and a few others in the conference room as they appeared in Season 2. Did you guys shoot that back in 2005, or did you guys shoot that this year?

B.J.: It was great fun to go back in time with all the characters, both with their physical looks and with their performances as characters. Kim Ferry and LaVerne Caracuzzi-Milazzo put great care and effort into recreating the characters’ looks from earlier seasons, as did our wardrobe department.

The scene that you mentioned in the conference room was shot the same week as everything else. (For example, speaking for myself: I was dressed in the same bright blue shirt that Ryan used to favor, and had fake sideburns glued on to match that era.)

In terms of the performances, the actors remembered those dynamics and fell right back into them. My favorite example is the scene in the complete movie between Jim and Pam, in which Pam asks Goldenface why his face is gold.

Threat Level Midnight: Jim and Pam

You can see all the happiness and and the tension in their faces –- they love acting together, they are trying to keep a straight face through Michael’s dialogue, and they know Roy is just out of frame.

And why was Jim so involved with the movie? He’d seem like the kind of person who would stay away from Michael’s antics, especially a gun fight while ice skating.

LaVerne: Each department had copies on a DVD of how everyone looked from season to season. In terms of make up, the only make up adjustment that I had to make were the sideburns on B.J.

Mike: Just curious what John Krasinski had to say about having to wear the gimp suit in the speed skating scene 

jmj: How did John K. feel about the gold face paint?

B.J.: John Krasinski was as eager as a human being could be to wear the gold face paint, the speed skating suit, and all the rest of it. He loved playing Goldenface as much as Jim would have. Every actor on our show loves acting and being funny.

As for Jim, while it was fun to go back in time with every character, it was especially fun going back in time with Jim and to see more of what he was like back when he had more fun at work, and participated more eagerly in extra-curricular activities, as a way to spend time with Pam and share some laughter with her.

LaVerne: When the script indicated that we were doing a gold face we did a test to make sure that everyone was on board with the idea and the visual. I had to make some minor adjustments due to where we were shooting and how the actors were being lit. John is a true professional and was pleased with the end result.

Rob M: Did it take a lot of convincing to get Craig Robinson to shave off his stache?

LaVerne: No, Craig could not be a nicer person. Of course, when anyone is used to having facial hair or longer hair and are either asked to cut or shave it off, it is a big decision even though you know it will grow back. We just made sure that for continuity purposes that we shot everything with his facial hair and then everything without his facial hair.