The iconic workplace comedy The Office, starring Steve Carell as Michael Scott, began its life on NBC and for nine seasons, followed the everyday work lives of office employees in the Scranton, Pennsylvania, branch of the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.
As the Emmy-winning series left Netflix on January 1 and moved all 201 episodes exclusively to Peacock, Monsters & Critics had a chance to reminisce with Kate Flannery, who played Meredith Palmer, and Andy Buckley, who played David Wallace.
Monsters & Critics: Do you have a favorite memory or episode for your character?
Kate Flannery: One of my favorite moments is during Moroccan Christmas when Meredith is accused of being an alcoholic. There was a forced, weird intervention after she catches her hair on fire in the conference room because she’s drinking. There’s something about that confrontation that always cracked me up. I thought the writing was just so great.
Andy Buckley: Yes, getting hired. Getting the phone call that said, “Hey, they’re going to use you, Buckley.” I was surprised, too. That certainly would be one, but, another one, and I’ll just keep with this theme, is the first episode I got to do.
Greg Daniels directed it and he was just so kind and, if you will, gentle in terms of like, “Okay, let’s try it this way. Let’s try it that way.” I think it allowed me at the very beginning to ease into getting to do it.
Separate of that, in terms of the show, I guess the second episode that would be my favorite was when I was canned and sitting in the hot tub with Steve, or when I fired Jan. Just that whole episode was a lot of fun.
M&C: You played the character for so many years. Do you ever think about what they might be doing today?
Kate Flannery: I think she’s still in Scranton. She finished her Ph.D., but I think she’s still working for Dunder Mifflin because the insurance is so good, but the pandemic is keeping her in the basement. I think there’s drinking, but she’s safe because she’s a cockroach and she’s not going to let some pandemic take her down.
Andy Buckley: Hopefully, we would’ve taken the company to a national level and we’d have taken on Office Depot and Staples and Josh Porter that traitor that jumped ship to Staples in the third or fourth season. Either that or David would just be at home, coming up with more songs to play with his son, Teddy.
M&C: What did you love most about your character?
Kate Flannery: Well, my dad owned a bar, so I come by playing an alcoholic [from that]. One of the things about her that made her the most fun was I had the best wardrobe. I had the most comfortable wardrobe ever, and I loved that I didn’t talk that much. I have to say that was really fun.
I got to do more physical comedy than most of the characters, and that was a joy. It was really a different challenge and I certainly learned early on not to count my lines that it didn’t matter. There was some other chess game they were playing with my character, so don’t mess it up. Let the game continue.
Andy Buckley: He’s a good guy. He’s trying to run a company and a lot of silliness happens, but he appreciated all his people and all their work. I think he treated everyone very respectfully. The way that Michael cared about his people, I think Wallace cared about them as much. He didn’t fire Andrew Bernard after three months of living on a boat claiming he was running the office, so he’s got to be a halfway decent guy or just a terrible boss. Maybe that was it.
M&C: How did being cast on The Office change your life?
Kate Flannery: I was waiting tables and bartending too, but I have to tell you. I waited on so many people, famous people in Beverly Hills and then I quit, right before season two, because I didn’t know if we were going to get picked up.
We only shot six episodes the first season. It was a very short season. So, sometimes I actually would wait on directors I had just worked with. I realized that as the show got very popular after I left the restaurant, sometimes I’d be in a situation where I was with someone that I used to wait on, who did not recognize me as a waiter and would be very nice to me all of a sudden, but weren’t very nice to me back in the day.
So, it was really interesting. I just felt like I was in the catbird seat. I really felt like I had something on some of these people, and that kind of continues to happen through my career. There’s someone that does not remember the fact that I waited on them and they treated me horribly. I don’t want them to suffer, but I know who they are and I take care of myself accordingly.
Andy Buckley: To call my acting before The Office a career is a gigantic stretch. I don’t even know if you could refer to it as a hobby even though I was trying. It was life-changing for everyone involved from the top down. I always give credit to Allison Jones, who cast the show, my patron saint, who has changed the lives of so many people really, not just on this show, but other shows as well.
M&C: So many U.K. comedies don’t always translate to the U.S. Why do you think this one was so successful?
Kate Flannery: Greg Daniels is the greatest showrunner. He has such care for the process, for understanding of what’s the balance between the heart, the comedy and the awkwardness, and for casting Steve Carell. I think those two elements really are what pushed us over the top.
You have to understand, Steve had a deal with Universal. He shot 40-Year-Old Virgin between the pilot and the rest of the five episodes. So, when we first started airing, it was right before 40-Year-Old Virgin came out. So, after 40-Year-Old Virgin came out, literally, we were so excited to be with the biggest comedy star of the time. I mean, 2005, that was Steve’s era. That was a huge breakout.
Andy Buckley: It starts with Ben Silverman for having the idea. He’s, obviously, such a brilliant guy, and then the way that Greg Daniels handpicked everybody and all the other writers, whether it was Michael Schur or Charlie Grandyor. There’s a whole long list.
And then Steve. It just all starts with the beautiful heart that Michael Scott had even though he was not the most politically correct guy in all kinds of mix-ups here and there, but I think it probably was that, aside from just the fact that it’s so funny.
The Office is currently streaming on Peacock.