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: Yeah. BJN: So [Greg] knew in the back of his head might put people in. Then, in "Diversity Day," we wanted to add another minority character for a moment like what ended up being the slap. So he thought, "Oh, we'll put Mindy in, and this is what will happen." And so he just threw her in there. He had actually discovered her as an actress, too -- he had seen her in Matt & Ben. So when she did that well, the role just expanded there. And Paul's acting -- I think it was just a joke in the writers' room; he has such a fun natural demeanour that we kept saying "Paul should be in the show! Paul should be in the show!" And I believe I'm the one who said he should be named "Toby." WC: Why that name in particular? BJN: It just seems so...um... WC: "Toby" does seem like the name of a guy who's divorced and still really loves his ex-wife. BJN: Yeah! It seems so harmless. And I guess that's the best way for me to describe the name. And we put him in, and he's a natural! Rainn Wilson, especially can't get over it -- Rainn, who's taught acting classes, and has this immense theatre background, can't get over how good Paul is, never having acted in his life. And he nails it on the first take every time. WC: Yeah, he's great. BJN: But we've had other people -- the backstory is more in the writers' heads, but Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg play Leo and Gino, who we usually end up cutting out of the episodes we write them into, but they have appeared once: they work at Vance Refrigeration. They're the delivery guys there, and they were in "Valentine's Day" briefly. There'll be more writers. WC: You mentioned backstory just a second ago. How much backstory did the producers give you for Ryan when you started -- or, I guess, did you give yourself, as a writer, or a performer? BJN: I gave myself backstory as a performer, but that's just what I learned in high-school acting class. WC: Right. How much can you say about Ryan's backstory that we haven't sort of seen played out on the show?

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The Office

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