News Column

John Krasinski talks about 'The Office' ahead of series finale May 16

May 9, 2013


May 09--After nine years, "The Office" is closing.

For the audience, the show will wrap up starting with a one-hour episode at 8 p.m. Thursday and then a 75-minute series finale at 8 p.m. May 16 on NBC.

For the cast members, like John Krasinski, it's -- as you would expect -- an emotional time.

Krasinski, aka sardonic nice guy Jim Halpert on the show, said during a recent teleconference that he's saving his "tears for Barbara Walters."

"There's so much to miss," said Krasinski, whose character started out as a sales representative for fictional Scranton, Pa.,-based Dunder Mifflin paper sales company.

"I was a waiter before this show, so what I miss most about the character is way too complexly intertwined in my real life.

"So, for me, this was a winning lottery ticket except with a winning lottery ticket you just get money, and with this you get a whole change of your life. And everything about my life has changed and become better, and I feel so lucky to be where I am."

"The Office" is an adaptation of Ricky Gervais' British TV series about the staff of a fictional company whose employees think they are being filmed for a documentary. Its fly-on-the-wall perspective, narrative form and dry and politically incorrect antics made it a favorite of critics and fans and earned it more than 40 Emmy nominations while launching numerous careers. It won an Emmy for best comedy series once. And it's the last NBC show in the same vein as the network's famous must-see TV lineup. The next to last was "30 Rock," which ended its series run in January.

The character Jim, who ended up marrying the company's former receptionist, was created as "a window for the audience into this office," writer-producer Greg Daniels told Krasinski back in 2005.

"They needed someone to tell them that it was OK to laugh at everything and to see everything as a little bit ridiculous, and, to me, that was so much fun to play. ...

"I felt like I was given a tremendous responsibility, and that responsibility I will really miss because it's so much fun to play a character that people are watching and rooting for and loving. So I really appreciate that."

The Massachusetts native, also a writer and director with several films to his credit, recalled the audition tape he did for the role. One that included him telling a "nameless person" who asked if he was nervous that he wasn't. But he didn't stop there.

"I said 'I'm not nervous for the audition because you either get these things or you don't,' " Krasinski told the person. "But I am nervous for the people making it because we have a tendency in America to screw up all the good shows that come over from England, and I don't see how you are going to make this work.'

"And then he said, 'Hi, I'm Greg Daniels,' and I threw up in my mouth."

Some of the audition footage may be included in the one-hour retrospective NBC will air at 7 p.m. May 16 before the finale.

Original series star Steve Carell may or may not have a cameo in the series finale, but several actors who have left the show over its nine seasons will be back for its supersized send-off. It was 20,000 signatures on an online petition that convinced the network to give Daniels the extra 15 minutes he needed to wrap up all their stories.

Confirmed returnees include Mindy Kaling, B.J. Novak, Mike Schur, Andy Buckley and Bobby Ray Shafer. Rachael Harris, Dakota Johnson, Joan Cusack, Ed Begley Jr., Malcolm Barrett and Matt Jones will guest-star. There will also be limited commercials.

The final episode takes place months after the airing of the documentary when the workers of Dunder Mifflin, past and present, gather for a wedding and a final round of interviews. Mysteries will be solved, hatchets buried and pranks pulled, according to the network.

It's the ending of one story in Krasinski's life and the beginning of others, the 33-year-old actor said.

"To say that this show gave me everything would be the greatest understatement ever. ... I think that not only every single opportunity -- and I mean every single opportunity -- has come from this show and people who have watched this show and have given me a chance because of it.

"But, also, every sort of creative impulse and desire of trying new things and wanting to experiment with new mediums and writing and things like that has all come from the show because of the enthusiasm I have for it.

"That, you know, instead of being some sort of soul-crushing job, it was the exact opposite, which is a job that made you just feel like a superhero and that you were in the one family that's never loved a child more than anything in the history of the world.

"And that's how I felt leaving this show."

Rita Sherrow 918-581-8360


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