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

Vidsub: Was Ryan’s character still Samuel L Chang?

B.J.: Samuel L. Chang was a half-African-American, half-Asian sidekick based in some ways on Dwight (or “Dwigt”) that was featured in the first draft of “Threat Level: Midnight” that was discovered in the episode The Client.

I figured that Michael would have had trouble casting that role to his liking with actors in Scranton, and so it was one of the aspects that he would have rewritten in the intervening years. The first name “Samuel” remained the same.

(Ryan read his part aloud in “The Client,” but that was not Michael’s casting, it was Jim’s.)

Tyler: Was that really Tony Gardner on Jasmine’s piano? Why would he be in Michael’s movie if he worked at Scranton for under a day and got fired/quit?

B.J.: Okay, imagine you’re Tony Gardner. Your old boss calls you up, apologizes profusely for the way he fired you, and explains that he is making a movie and there’s a role you’d be “absolutely perfect for.” You might be intrigued, you might be flattered, you might be lonely.

I figured Michael would want to cast Tony for his look, and Tony might not have much going on, and Michael’s a great salesman, and so that’s one way it could have happened.

jimbo: Where was David Wallace? 

kreidy: Why did you choose to recast Jim as Goldenface instead of Oscar?

B.J.: In the shooting script, Michael revealed that David Wallace was Michael’s original choice for Goldenface – in his mind, the James Bond model of a smooth, handsome villain – but that Wallace had to turn it down since “it wouldn’t look good to people at corporate.” Then we had a talking head from David Wallace, which Andy Buckley performed beautifully, explaining why he actually regretted his decision:

From his house.

                         DAVID WALLACE
I should have said yes. We all take ourselves too seriously in the moment. We think everybody’s watching and judging us. But in reality, nobody actually gives a damn what you do, they’re wrapped up in their own bullshit. Life is short, so just do what you want to do.

To my great regret, this got cut for time. (The episode really had to be cut to the bone, in order to tell the story of Michael showing the movie as well as tell the story of the movie itself. It was one of those episodes that seemed to come in too long to be a half hour, but not long enough to be an hour-long).

Since it wasn’t part of the movie, it isn’t in the complete Threat Level Midnight movie either. Hopefully it will make the DVD as a deleted scene.

Buster Bluth: Were there any other characters that you wanted to bring back but were unable to do it because of the actor’s schedules?

B.J.: Yes. We really wanted Amy Adams (Katy). I had scripted scene in which she is a “Floozy” in bed with Michael Scarn before Dwight wakes him up with a mission from the President.

In the scene, Michael is unsatisfied from their empty lovemaking because no one is as good in bed as his wife was, and Michael explains to her what love feels like.

Then, in a talking head, Katy explained with a little embarrassment how she had some interest in acting back then, and we catch up with where she is in the present day. But she wasn’t available to film the week we were filming.


  1. Thanks BJ and LaVerne for the answers! It would have been so cool to have Amy Adams show up in the movie and now I can’t wait to watch the whole thing!

  2. Wow, that was completely amazing.

    I love that the office writers get so involved.

    Thanks for the behind the scenes look BJ!

  3. Fantastic Q&A! Thank you so much. This is the type of thing that sets The Office apart. Awesome generosity!

  4. Wait So Erin wasn’t in the movie because Michael had stopped filming awhile ago, but Helene was in the movie?

    Erin was working in the Office when Michael was dating Helene.

    Michael must have done some pick ups and re-shoots :)

  5. Well, I’m glad I figured out why David Wallace wasn’t in the movie, or why he hasn’t been seen on the episode. I hope I find him on a deleted scene.

  6. Yay! He answered my comment (which ended the segment)! This made my day…

    So thank you B.J. for not only answering our questions, but maintaining the world’s greatest and smartest show as well!

  7. Thanks, BJ and crew! I loved the description of going back in time…that was how it was watching it for me. Just a great episode and really appreciate the insights.

  8. @ #5
    Didn’t Michael not like Erin for a while, but finally got used to her? Because he was reluctant to let her go with him to the school in “Scott’s Tots” maybe he didn’t want her in it then but was already done filming when he finally liked her.

  9. Great interview! It’s always good to see the process behind bringing all those elements together on screen.

  10. Thank you, BJ, for sharing such interesting information about the making of TLM. As usual, you gave us a great insight into how you put this all together. And I loved how expertly you captured Michael’s mind and intentions — he truly is a most remarkable character!

  11. This was awesome! I’m sitting here going through back episodes on Netflix tonight and forget just how incredibly funny some of these are. I LOVE THIS SHOW.

  12. Thanks for all the detailed answers B.J.! I hope the David Wallace talking head makes it as a deleted scene on the DVD. It’s amazing how much work every department put into making this a great episode. It would have been funny to see Katy come out in the movie. I can’t believe this episode was Steve’s idea. Steve is a genius! I’m so glad everyone decided to jump on board to do this episode.

  13. Thanks Tanster and BJ! I can’t believe he answered my really stupid question! I was kind of hoping he wouldn’t see it because I felt so embarrassed for submitting it. But look how well he answered it!

  14. Thank you so much to B.J., LaVerne, and everyone else involved for the great Q&A and the great episode.

  15. Wow – what a great Q & A! Thank you BJ and the entire Office crew – this is such a gift for us fans!

  16. What a fantastic Q&A — It deserves a second reading! I will never get tired of geeking out over the behind the scenes Office stuff. Thanks so much for facilitating this and thanks to wonderful BJ Novak for his great responses, and to sweet LaVerne too!

  17. What a great Q&A! It really rounds the episode out for me. Thanks, BJ and LaVerne, for those great answers, and thanks, as always, to Tanster for making this happen!

  18. Thank you BJ! I can never get enough behind the scenes insight. Love this stuff. We Office fans are sure lucky. Look what we get! Such a great group of people.

    Very interesting to find out this was Steve’s idea. Sounds like an amazing experience for everybody involved. And I too hope to see that David Wallace TH on the dvd.

  19. Just noticed that other than the voiceover, Leslie David Baker does not appear in this episode! Why he is not there for the viewing party?

  20. I love this show, love the writers, and love everything about it. I have all the episodes on random/repeat 24/7.

Leave a Reply