tanster: Omigod — I didn’t know your Mose beard was real! You told me it was itchy, so I assumed it was fake.
Michael: No no, my friend. 100% real. I am method. Like Hoffman and Brando before me.
tanster: Was this your first acting role?
Michael: I have actually been on TV a couple other times — when I wrote for SNL I would occasionally get put in a monologue or something.
tanster: Will we see more of Mose in Season 4?
Michael: Man, I hope not. The beard almost ruined my marriage.
tanster: More Mose! More Mose!
Michael: Shhhhhhhhhhh. Greg will hear you.
tanster: The cast members often say that they are just as much in the dark as the fans are, in terms of knowing upcoming storylines. Which cast members badger you the most? Have there been any bribes involved?
Michael: None of them really badger us, remarkably. There has always been a tremendous amount of trust between the writers and actors — we trust them to do a great job performing and improving upon what we write, and they are good enough actors to pretend they trust us with crafting their characters, knowing that they can always chuck the script and improvise something better.
The actors do sometimes pitch ideas, and luckily, they’re often fantastic. Steve pitched the idea of an office Casino Night, I believe. And Angela (and maybe Jenna, too, I think) pitched a “Women in the Workplace” seminar that Jan could lead, which became the basis for “Boys and Girls.” I’d say by this point, probably every actor has pitched some idea, big or small, that we’ve eventually used.
tanster: Do the writers keep up with what’s going on in the Office fandom?
Michael: We are keenly aware of how intently people watch the show, and I’ll speak for everyone when I say that we consider ourselves extraordinarily lucky to work on a show that has such a passionate fanbase.
tanster: Have you gained weight since working on The Office? I noticed during my set visit that there is food everywhere. Writers room, backstage, every nook and cranny. Is this how it is on other shows?
Michael: TV sets are the absolute unhealthiest places on earth. One day I kept track of what Greg ate during the course of one day. It must have totaled eleven thousand calories. Mindy thinks he might be a New England Brown Bear in a man suit.
Once we were on a particularly unhealthy eating streak and Greg asked the writers’ assistant to go to the supermarket and get everyone a fresh yellow pepper. We ate fresh yellow peppers for dinner. It was the only healthy moment in the history of television production.
tanster: Final thought: Mose steals Angela away from Dwight at the end of Season 4 — can I add that to OfficeTally’s spoiler thread?
Michael: Angela has been pitching for a while that Mose, Angela, and Dwight go on a road trip. So maybe …
tanster: Well, Michael, I should probably let you get back to writing those amazing scripts. This was fantastic — thanks for taking OT readers on a journey inside the writing process. The writers truly make it look so easy. Can’t wait to see where you guys take us in Season 4!
Michael: Thanks so much for this. It was really fun.
tanster: “It was really fun”? I’ve lived a thousand lifetimes in these interviews with you, and you had “fun”?
Michael: Wait. I’m second-guessing myself. This was the awesomest thing ever! Tanster and Mike 4-eva!!!!