‘The Office’ Interview: What Happens When A Scranton Graduate Sits Down With Kate FlanneryPosted: July 17, 2012
Kate Flannery isn’t much of a drunk in person, but she is just as hilarious as her role Meredith on The Office. The show’s had its changes throughout the past seven years, but nothing has changed on how viewers feel about the characters it’s created. Recently, I got the chance to chat with Flannery about her new hosting gig on StandUp In Stilettos, and luckily got some questions in about good ole’ Dunder Mifflin too. What’s been her favorite Meredith scene? What does she really booze on during an episode? Who would she love to have guest star? And then some.
The Office will always be a favorite (Jim’s adorable faces has something to do with that), but there was another reason why I was so ecstatic to meet Kate. I’m a University of Scranton 2010 graduate and even attended the Office Convention that the city held back in 2007. It gave the majority of the cast the chance to check out its “roots” as Al Roker hosted part of the event for the Today show.
That Scranton flag sometimes shown in the office? That Froggy 101 radio sticker by Pam’s old desk? You mean that Mulberry Street scene shot for the opening credits that’s otherwise known as the street I used to live on? Yeah, I’m that person who gets giddy with pride when I see that. And no, I’m not the only one.
As Kate simply put it to me later on, “Scranton forever!”
Scranton! It was such a wonderful experience to see the cast at the Office Convention all those years ago.
KATE FLANNERY: That was such a happy memory for me.
That was my first time on the Today show and I was like so scared. That whole thing was like a dream.
There was a terrible rumor that it was going to happen again. Terrible, as in I got my hopes up.
They kept saying well maybe John [Krasinski], Jenna [Fischer] and Steve [Carell] could get there. And then I feel like, was it the writer strike that year? Something was messed up. I feel like if there hadn’t been a strike I think that it actually could have happened.
Such a great moment nonetheless! And even Brian Baumgartner came back a few years later the day before the 2010 graduation. He helped out with drinks at our President’s dinner.
No! Oh my God! I knew he was there for one of the tours and stuff. That’s so great. I loved meeting Father P. [Pilarz] He’s such a sweetheart. He left right?
Yeah, he went on to Marquette University. That’s so funny that you know that.
I knew his family and I’m from Pennsylvania. I have a lot of friends from high school—one friend of mine is a Cardiologist at the hospital downtown, Mercy, and he came to visit me at Cooper’s when I did a little signing their last year. I was doing the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day parade but I had to go to Scranton to beat all the affiliates. It was crazy. I was in Cooper’s and they had this crazy disco ridiculous limo for me. It literally was filled with these horrible neon chaser lights and a giant bottle of not quite champagne.
[Laughs] You and the cast also hung out on the library rooftop too, right?
Oh yeah! We did. We did. Yeah, that was amazing.
You’re obviously all hilarious off camera too. Is there a lot of improv going on at Dunder Mifflin?
It’s really written much more than you’d suspect. There is some improv but I always feel like whenever I personally improvise, I always feel like the writers are like, “I knew you were gonna go there!” You know what I mean? Like it’s almost like the road was leading there anyway. It’s not like I’ve come up with some other side dish and changed the main course. So, I mean the writing is amazing and it really is a writer’s show. I mean we really understand—I think everyone really understands that you’re not going to come up with something better or you don’t need to. You can just trust them and the audience trusts them.
What’s been one of your favorite Meredith moments and a favorite episode in general?
I’d have to say—it’s so hard to pick one! When Meredith was pretending to be that boss that Michael was setting up and the spy thing for Danny. That was really fun and then she blows it because she ends up coming on to him and forgetting that she’s being taped. That was one of my favorites.
Also, I loved the walk of shame when we shot that scene with Will Ferrell and Steve and we were in that crazy house. It was like a gorilla shoot so it wasn’t like they did much set dressing. They just found this house and we just got in a van. And it wasn’t like sometimes we have these big trucks. It wasn’t like that. It was just like okay, we got this house we go to go shoot the scene. When I walked into the house the first time we did a rehearsal on camera I could not believe how filthy the house was. It was like a hoarder’s house. I’m not kidding you! It was like paper stacked up and like a weird colonial print nicotine stained couch. It was bizarre. And then I kept walking in deeper and deeper into the house every take because I was so fascinated by it. There was like pizza boxes completely from floor to ceiling in the nook. It was bizarre, but my favorite part about it was that it was so surreal to be in a scene with Will Ferrell and Steve Carell at the top of their game.
In this hoarder’s house!
In this hoarders’ house! And I just remember Will Ferrell was improvising like, “Ugh this house looks like it was hit by Katrina!” [Laughs]
Are there any other guest stars you’d love to have on?
I don’t know! God, there’s so many. I know Steve Martin whose done 30 Rock so many times. “Welcome to Scranton Steve! The bar is fine!” He’s gonna see this [interview] right? So we’re gonna pitch it to him.
What do you say to people who think The Office will be ending soon?
I feel like, we are such an Office culture, and the show gets around on so many levels and the writing is still so good. And even though some people hate change, I still feel like we have a life. I just don’t see any end. I really don’t.
What comes to mind when you think about the word office?
I used to be really sensitive to the term like, “Ugh The Office,” just like so self-centered. I keep thinking about it, it’s kind of ridiculous. [Laughs] But I definitely have a filter now where it’s like not about me. But yeah, I mean I love my office job.
You continued to waitress during its first season. Is there ever a moment when an actor is completely comfortable in the business? When did you know you made it?
Well, you know there is no visible line that you just cross and be like, “YES! I’m here!” But I think that contracts help. Then you realize. “Oh, I have a job!” I think that might be it. Like having a real contract. Yeah, I think that’s kind of it because then you realize, “Okay, even if I get struck by lightning I still have a job.” [Laughs]
Meredith is always boozing. What’s usually used on set?
Well, it’s usually vodka. Every once in a while it’s something—I mean, I’m not a method actor, I’m not that method. I really know how to act! It’s not always alcohol so I’m acting my ass off! [Laughs] I think there’s like one bottle in my desk. We have a fake vodka and there was a fake whiskey that was like iced tea, and then it went bad and I had to drink it when we were improvising. Even though we like never improvise at one point we were doing something physical and I went to grab the bottle and I literally had to swallow, but I was like “ugh.” And I couldn’t mess up the tape God forbid, but I was grossed out. Yeah, but it’s usually just like water or a colored version of water with some sort of fake coloring in it.
In other news, it must be so nice to look at John Krasinski’s face all day.
Are there any inside jokes or traditions that have lasted on set over the years?
John has always been like the singer. He’s always been the one to start a stupid little tune or something. And for some reason he loves the theme from Entertainment Tonight, so sometimes we’ll all start singing the tune to that. You know, it has no words so it’s always, “da na na na na.” But yeah, that’s kind of the only thing I could think of. Yeah, we don’t really have jokes, just some occasional group singing!
You’ve got The Office, Lampshades and now StandUp In Stilettos. What would be your second career choice?
Is it terrible to say owning a bar? [Laughs]
Well, I have to say that was one of the hardest things about stopping my restaurant, quitting my restaurant job. My dad and I would always talk on that level. He’d be like, “How’d ya do? How many covers?” We have that speak, and it’s weird to have a job where people come and visit you at your job because most people don’t have that. So when you own a restaurant or bar, you are—it’s like a weird mix. It’s a mash-up if you will of like your social life and your work life. So I respond very well to that and I feel like the day goes by very quickly when you’re in that situation. And there’s a lot of energy coming in and out. I’ll think of something more profound that will change the world and actually help other human beings rather than giving them food or drink. But for now that’s my answer.
Side Note: Your naked Twitter picture is dead on Meredith.
My parents are so proud. My parents are not on Twitter by the way.