The Office
The B.J. Novak Interview

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"It Was Just So Intellectually Stimulating And Inspiring; It Was All I Wanted To Do"
WC: And so much more efficiently without commercials. BJN: True. WC: For those of us who love the show and worried that it was doing okay in the ratings but not super-great to a Dancing With The Stars degree, I think there may have been some concern that NBC would yank the show before it had a chance to find its groove; do you have that worry times a thousand when you work on the show, or is it the sort of thing that you kind of have to compartmentalize in order to actually work on it? BJN: I think that actually helped us, the worry -- the resignation, almost, that we were just going to be a small show. And also, it's easy to forget that there was this very rough period at the beginning, where not only did mainstream viewers have no interest in us, but the type of people that should have and ultimately did come to our defense hated us even more, because we were remaking the British Office. So we were really the only ones, or so it felt -- us, and, of course, Kevin Reilly and the people deciding to put us on the air -- who believed in what we were doing. And that was a rough time, but it made us stronger. It was a good thing for us; it was healthy, because it made us really do the show just for ourselves, just for our own sense of humour, and not to please the fans or please the critics or anything like that. So we really, I guess...I don't know. You get it. WC: Sure. There was sort of a foxhole mentality. BJN: Yeah. And we work in this, like, bunker of a windowless building -- I call it The Bunker all the time. It's rather unpleasant. It makes being in a cubicle -- actually, we don't technically have cubicles. It makes being in a fluorescent-lit office a relief, compared to my windowless writers' office, where I am right now. WC: How does it change the dynamic of working on the show to have you all in your office park, instead of on a lot? BJN: Oh, it's been fantastic! That is a great thing, and that started from the beginning. We would come in every day -- I want to say at 9, but it was really more like 7. And shooting the pilot, shooting the first episode or two, we would sit at our desks every day. Every cast member was called [to the set], even if they didn't have a line that day, and we just got in the habit of going to work every day and sitting at our desks all day. They give us internet [access], and, you know, we spend most of our hours playing Freecell on the computer and IM-ing our friends in the cast and outside. It really mimics a real-life office. You know, the jelly beans on Pam's desk are real, and if it's a new batch or new flavours, you're excited. You get pleasure in the small things and frustrations in the small things just like in a real office, so it helps to refresh your real-life experience very directly.

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The Office




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