Q. Jen, what was it like working with John behind the camera? | kim
Jen: It was really great working with John. I already knew how insightful he was about the characters and the show, but I was really impressed with the way he told the story visually — I especially loved the shot of Michael driving away in his car and seeing Wallace through the window. It was both funny and felt like a scene from a horror movie.
In Sabre, we got to see a very different side to the Wallace character and I loved the way John thought about/directed those scenes so that there was a slow build to the moment where Michael realized that his hero wasn’t the way he remembered.
It was also cool watching the way John interacted with the actors — not just the specific thoughts he had, but the timing of giving his notes — with an extra awareness as an actor of when to step in and give them.
He gave me shit at one point, because after the first take of a scene I turned to John and said “I know it’s early, but…” and he said “You think?” He was absolutely right, of course, and striking that balance of when to give thoughts to the actors or Randall and Matt is really important on the set.
Q. John, what was more challenging for you, directing your cast mates or directing the guests actors/actresses, new cast members? | Gabrielle
John: I had the incredibly surreal experience of having Kathy Bates and Christian Slater in my episode, soooo yes, I was way more nervous on those days! Just prayed I didn’t make a nerdy True Romance or Misery reference!
And Zach Woods is such an awesome addition to the show. I was definitely nervous being the first director he got to work with!
Q: How did the cast react to taking direction from John? | Dana
John: They were so mean — I’m just now getting over it! Ok … they were fine. Haha! The cast was just awesome!
Everyone knew that I was nervous to direct and were so incredibly helpful. The truth is, this cast is the most talented group of people around. Right from the first take, they nailed it.
So as a director, the hardest thing to do is not laugh from behind the monitor and ruin the take!
[from tanster: i asked some of The Office cast members what they thought … ]
Jenna: John was a wonderful director. To start with, he was very prepared … which is important. He knew how he wanted to stage each shot.
We have very little time to get our scenes and the more prepared the director is, the more the actors can play around creatively. His preparation gave us that space.
He is also very naturally funny. He has great comedic instincts as an actor and he carried that into his direction.
For example, he suggested I be enthusiastically playing with a tiny tea set when he comes out of the bathroom … which was such a fun idea to play with.
He also suggested I deliver the line “And that’s the most awkward solution to the problem” like a game show host telling someone they’ve won the jackpot. It made for a very funny delivery.
Thanks John! I would love for him to direct another episode.
Ellie: John was, of course, awesome. Being new to the show, I make my primary goal in every episode to please just not ruin the episode. John made me feel confident yet calm, and also made me laugh throughout the entire week. If this isn’t too weird a thing to say, I felt like he took very good care of us.
The only time I felt anxious was during the scene when Andy and Erin sing about Sabre. It can be embarrassing to sing in front of a dozen television and movie stars. However, after the very first take, John smiled and told us we did a great job. This alone made me feel like Superwoman. Thank you, John!
Brian: John was great. A unique experience having him direct, cause of what a jerk he is personally, but the cast members who have directed have an understanding of the show and characters that an outside person cannot possibly have.
After all, we are the only ones who have been in the room for all 120 episodes or whatever. And he was bold, which I thought was cool. Wanted characters to try new things.
Other than what a jerk he is — he was fantastic.
Kate: John is a very thoughtful director who created a great tone on the set. He really did his homework on all levels. He took his job very seriously, not himself.
Oh, and I think John smelled better when he was directing.
Andy: He was great. His main problem though is just that he has no enthusiasm at all … none.
Creed: Which one’s John?