Greg Daniels: I remember that happening. He wasn’t the only person saying that, so it didn’t hit me with the same force. I was used to getting that all over the place. I had seen with John a series of commercials that he did for like, I think, ESPN or something. Do you remember that, John?
John Krasinski: Oh, NASCAR. It was NASCAR.
Greg Daniels: NASCAR, yeah.
Greg Daniels: They were very funny. I think they were completely improvisational and he was doing Man on the Street interviews for NASCAR. But yeah, it’s a hard role to cast. Very infrequently, I think, do you find an actor who is very, very good at comedy and extremely sincere and vulnerable, and capable of being like a masculine leading man. And I really felt that when all the different people came through, it was very clear that John was the best.
And then, we also had these long three days of screen tests. After the auditioning process we brought the leading contenders to Los Angeles and shot in the style of the show with our director, Ken Kwapis, for days, which was, an amazingly audacious thing to ask for an actor to do without paying them. But in addition to being very funny in the talking heads and having a great chemistry with Jenna, one of the aspects of the role was to be able to have this relationship with Dwight. And in the improvs between John and Rainn, John was the only person who could stand up to Rainn and kind of throw Rainn back on his feet. And so he kind of hit all the marks and it wasn’t a hard choice.
Question: I can’t imagine how there’d be a reunion show without Michael and Holly coming back to the final stage. Can you speak to that at all?
Greg Daniels: I think that Steve felt, which I agree with, that the Goodbye Michael episode was his goodbye, and he didn’t want to overshadow the endings that the other characters deserved after all these years, and so I think he made a good call. Obviously, it’d be wonderful to have him back…
Question: If I could ask you, sort of step back, I’d ask you to address the legacy. I feel like we talked a little bit about this ten years ago, and now it’s coming to an end, and an historic one. What did it all mean? What’s the legacy here at the end of the day, do you think?
Greg Daniels: I don’t think that there is one type of person. The audience is made up of people with a lot of different desires and ways that they want to be entertained, and I actually don’t think that there’s like a straight line progress kind of a thing with TV. It’s more cyclical, but for the people for whom that sensibility that we did was just hitting the sweet spot, they got a great long drink of that comedy juice from the show. And it maybe encouraged other people who like that sensibility to do more along those lines.
The British show was like such a defining thing for so many people, and it brought together all these people with that taste. And I was such a fan of that style too, and it was an amazing treat to be able to work for so long in that style, which I think beforehand was more like a really old comedy, kind of a thing, you know?
For a while we made it very mainstream and, I think there’s benefits to that, because I love that sensibility, but I don’t think it’s like, oh, all future comedies have to be like The Office now. There’s a million different types of comedy, but I think this was a good long example of a type that I hold dear to my heart.