Q: My question is all about Jim’s hilarious cold-open prank: Was that your idea, or someone else’s? Did it take the prop department a long time to construct? And how many takes did you do of Dwight sitting down into it – Rainn’s reaction was priceless! | Laura M.
Justin: That one was mine. Ever since I started working on the show, I’ve been asking my friends in the corporate world what pranks go on in their offices, and the single most mentioned one is wrapping people’s desks, whether in wrapping paper or newspaper or aluminum foil. I’ve been looking for an excuse to get some version of that prank in the show, and this was the perfect opportunity.
The construction guys went through a lot of different options to get the effect right. The first thing they tried was this complex mechanism of boards and spring-loaded locking mechanisms (I’m just saying words — I don’t know what any of that means). But it was pretty elaborate.
What we finally ended up using was a cheap, simple box of foam core — kind of a cardboard/Styrofoam thing. The prop guys spent I don’t know how many hours making up four desks, which would give us four takes to get it right. Then the first take ended up being perfect and we moved on.
Q: Meredith sure seems to do a lot of stunts – i.e. getting hit by a car, a ball, having her head put in a garbage bag … and now her hair catches on fire! How did you pull it off, and did Meredith herself perform her own stunts? | Agent Michael Scarn
Q: I can imagine that it was too dangerous for Kate Flannery to do her own stunt, but did she want to? | jkrasislove
Justin: Kate Flannery has done a number of her own stunts, but this is one that was way too dangerous (although knowing Kate, I wouldn’t be surprised if she would have gladly stepped in had we given her the option of doing it herself).
A stunt woman was wearing a version of Meredith’s costume that had been flame retarded, a flesh-colored mask over the side of her face that would be flamed, and I’m pretty sure some Vaseline over the other side of her face. We had three wigs made to look like Kate’s hair, with part of each ready to go up in flames and the rest of it similarly flame-proof.
And then, just like the desk in the cold open, the first take worked great and we didn’t need the rest. So we’ve apparently made three gift-wrapped foam-core desks and two Kate Flannery replica wigs too many. Let’s start the bidding …
Thanks again to Justin, and to Tallyhead Nation for providing the questions! All I wanted from Santa this year was one last Q&A — I’m a happy girl. :)
Check out more Q&As in the Episode Q&A Archive. Essential reading for every Office super fan!