It’s hard to imagine anyone outside the actual cast playing the characters in The Office, but the original casting tapes for the show prove the faces of Dunder Mifflin could have been very different.
In the 15-plus years since it first aired, the US version of The Office has become a firm favourite for TV fans looking for something easy to binge, to have on as comforting background noise or to become heavily invested in time and time again.
Repeated viewings of the nine-series show have ingrained the faces and voices of the cast in our minds, so much so that many people now struggle to picture Steve Carell as anything other than a chaotic boss, or understand why John Krasinski isn’t looking directly down the camera to pull a classic ‘Jim face’ in later roles.
I think most fans would agree that the series was cast perfectly, which is why it’s so jarring to see other people take on the roles of Office characters in casting tapes for the series.
After deciding to go ahead with an American version of the British sitcom by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, creator Greg Daniels and his team got to work looking for those who would act as the boss, salespeople, receptionist and accountants, among other roles.
Actors took it in turns to read lines in character for the creators, hoping to bag the role, with many familiar faces showing up to try and earn their place on the show.
You can see some of the auditions below:
The character of Dwight ultimately went to actor Rainn Wilson, but he had competition in the form of Seth Rogen and comedian Patton Oswalt, while Carell could have lost out on being the ‘World’s Best Boss’ to Better Call Saul star Bob Odenkirk, who did manage to land a part later in the series as a Michael-like character.
Krasinski’s beloved Jim could have been brought to life by Parks and Recreation actor Adam Scott, while sitting behind reception could have been Kathryn Hahn as Pam.
Social media users have expressed their surprise at some of the actors who attempted to find roles on the show, with one person writing: ‘I can’t picture anyone else playing these roles, it just would have made it a different show.’
They continued: ‘I can’t tell if it’s because the actors are so good or if it’s that my definition of the characters is warped by the actors. Dwight must have that fact-oriented, monotone, annoyed/annoying, know-it-all way of speaking that Rainn Wilson brings. Seth Rogan’s [sic] version just wouldn’t have the same entertainment value. And that goes for the whole cast, especially Jim and Michael.’
The casting team behind The Office definitely made good choices with their final cast, though it’s fun to imagine a parallel universe where the show stars Rogen, Scott, Odenkirk and Hahn.
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