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Jenna Fischer Believes 1 Movie Saved ‘The Office’ From Cancellation After Season 1



The American adaptation of The Office outlasted its U.K. counterpart by seven seasons. Now all 9 seasons of The Office are available on Peacock, but when it began in 2005, many of its stars thought they’d be out of work shortly after. The Office star Jenna Fischer credits one movie with saving the show. 

Brian Baumgartner replayed his interview with Fischer on his Off the Beat podcast on March 7. Fischer suspects NBC only kept The Office going to be in the Steve Carell business. 

Jenna Fischer did not expect ‘The Office’ to make it

By 2004, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s The Office was acclaimed. Both critics and fans were skeptical of the American remake, and the cast knew it. 

“We shot the pilot in March of 2004 and my 30th birthday was March 7th of 2004,” Fischer said on Off the Beat. “And I did not invite any of you to my 30th birthday party because I assumed I would never see you again. I was so sure that making the pilot was the end of our show, that it would never get picked up. Not because it wasn’t good but because it was so good and so weird and so special that no one would give us a chance. The word on the street was: have fun making your pilot, that’s all it’ll be.”

Even when NBC ordered five more episodes to make a first season, no one was expecting The Office to last until 2013.


“And similarly, have fun making your next five episodes,” Fischer continued. “They’ll probably just be yours to own on a DVD. Enjoy. So then we go back and we make these five episodes in a complete bubble. It was not until that following March of 2005 they finally start airing and they had to tell us by May if we were picked up for the second season then.”

Jenna Fischer thinks Steve Carell becoming a movie star may have saved ‘The Office’

Before he played Michael Scott on The Office, Carell had appeared in movies like Bruce Almighty, Anchorman and Sleepover. The 40-Year-Old Virgin was his first headlined movie, and Fischer thinks it came out just in time to save The Office.

“Then you know what happened?” Fischer said. “And I know exactly why we got picked up. It was that 40-Year-Old Virgin came out. 40-Year-Old Virgin came out and 100% I can hear in my imagination a conference room filled with NBC executives saying, ‘We aren’t going to be the *******s who let Steve Carell, the No. 1 box office comedy star out of his television contract. We’re picking up this show for six episodes of season 2.’”

Season 2 was still uncertain 

Fischer remembers the initial order for The Office Season 2 wasn’t any more than season 1. 

“Again, six episodes is all we got for season 2 but then they really did tailor the show more to Steve, more to what Steve would be as Michael rather than as inspired by David Brent,” Fischer said.

It worked. The Office Season 2 eventually filmed a full season of 22 episodes. 


Source: Cheat Sheet

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