Kevin from 'The Office' has now answered your questions
Posted December 13, 2012
It's a Thursday and I grew up outside of Scranton. Fair warning: there will be Office coverage today.
Yesterday I had the privilege of talking with Brian Baumgartner, a.k.a. the loveable accountant Kevin. As he's gearing up for the series finale, he's got plenty on the horizon. Brian will be making his second-ever appearance as Santa this coming weekend at the grand opening of the Banfield Pet Hospital in West Los Angeles (inside the PetSmart). He'll be judging an official reindeer competition where the most Rudolph-like pets win the opportunity to front his sleigh. (And 20 percent of the revenue from the venue's opening weekend will go directly to the spca.)
Beyond that, read on to hear what Brian's next project is, his feelings on how Kevin has evolved throughout the series and some insider info on a few fan favorites like Scrantonicity. You guys were kind enough to share your questions; Brian was kind enough to field them all.
Let's start with this weekend. Is this your first time in this particular role? How did you get involved?
Well, as luck would have it, in our nine seasons of The Office this is the first time I got to dress up as Santa in an episode that aired a few weeks ago. Some people said it was about time.
But yeah, I'm going to show up for the Banfield Pet Hospital and PetSmart, and we're going to have a great time. We have some pets coming and I'm going to choose the most attractive and able pet to serve as my reindeer this year. But it's a great cause and we're going to have a lot of fun.
You're a dog person, eh?
I'm a pet lover, but I own dogs and the hospital is near and dear to my heart. I had a Shiatsu dog for 12 years-we were different in size but he was certainly man's best friend, he was my little guy. I just lost him recently.
Oh no, sorry to hear that.
Well thank you, but you know, I know it's important for pet owners, especially at that time, to have good care and people you can trust. So, I haven't replaced him, but I have a new puppy now. He's about five or six months old and he's occupying all of my downtime right now. So he'll come out and play with some of the other reindeer dogs.
If I can, what is the new puppy's name?
You know, out of all the dogs that I've had-and this is probably the least like this-I just really like old man names, especially for little dogs. There's such a juxtaposition there that's funny to me. So his name is Charlie, and when he's bad, it's definitely Charles.
All right, if it's OK, I'd love to move on to some of the reader questions. First, are you worried about getting typecast going forward and can you talk about this new ABC project you have going forward? (Larry from Williamsport, PA and Anthony from LA)
Well, really the reason I've decided to show up on Saturday is to hedge my bets. If something goes awry, I can always play Santa. We're going to film that as a pilot.
But no, I'm really excited to be working with Harris Wittles (Parks and Rec, #humblebrag) and Greg Daniels (The Office). We came up with an idea for a new show and ABC is interested. We're in the midst of writing a first draft right now and we're really excited.
It's a totally different role for me. It's a departure and I'm excited about that, to give people an opportunity to see me do something different. But this really speaks to part of my aesthetic, which is speaking to the everyman. It's tremendously exciting to me to go into a totally different kind of role with the security of writers and producers I respect, and who share that same respect for me.
So we're developing it right now, we have a first draft we're dealing with and hopefully that's where I transition to after The Office.
Let's look back at The Office. Can you talk a little bit about how Kevin has evolved throughout the course of series? (Brian from NYC)
In the beginning it was based on the British show, and unlike many of the other supporting characters in The Office, my character had-Keith was his name-a direct correlation to the British version. So it started at that, a dolt who never spoke and when he did it was very understated. The character description for the original pilot was, "the only thing that's remarkable about Kevin, is that he's remarkably unremarkable."
So the original idea when I started was that Kevin was empty-set, there was just nothing. The British show ended up doing 13 total episodes, we'll we're at 200. And characters do change, so as the writers started writing for Kevin more we started finding other details for things: like he won a World Series of Poker bracelet, that he was good at basketball, that he was in a band. You found out that there were things outside where he did excel.
For me it was great, because these were things that were surprising and you wouldn't expect from him. So what I sort of did, as they started writing more it became clear that he needed to undergo some sort of transformation. The justification I had for it was as he became more comfortable with the cameras in the office, he allowed more of his inner personality to come out and assert himself in certain situations. So that's my sort of justification for it, but it was really born out of the writers writing much more for him.
Now we're at a point-especially with Michael Scott gone as Greg Daniels says-a lot of the really, really dumb things that Michael used to do, Kevin occupies those things. And even when he was there, if the writers had an idea that was kind of too stupid for Michael, Kevin was sort of the buffer and they were able to throw that at him.
In terms of the characterization, that's sort of what happened. Where we started, I needed to find other ways for Kevin to express himself. So a lot of the childlike glee was sort of developed and enhanced as we moved forward. It's a long answer, but it's a good question.
I did, I did.
So can you talk a little more about Scrantonicity? How did that come about? (Marshall from Phoenix)
I think the original idea was a joke that may have gotten cut from the second or third episode. And it was inspired by the British character who claimed to be a DJ. So we sort of changed that and Kevin was in a band.
And it was originally, and this is why I don't this part of it aired, it was originally a Steve Miller Band. And the band was called Jokers & Cokers. There was some rights issues and sort of creative changes we wanted to make, so by season two it was Scrantonicity the Police cover band and we played a few different times.
But the writers and I had a lot of fun with it. Again, this sort of savant thing-Kevin is able to do things that you don't expect him to do. So we had this inside joke we thought was funny: if he'd be the drummer/lead singer of this band. Because the singing and drumming is so different in Police songs, it would take a savant to be able to be on the drums and sing the songs. So that's how what I did in the band came about.
Well, I remember being entertained that weekend so it even translated to real life. I thought it was awesome, I wish they would do it again.
Yeah me, too. It would be very cool.
You briefly mentioned Steve Carrell's departure, how did things change off the camera after that? (Robert from Clarks Summit, PA)
It was tremendously difficult when he left, just because we were very close. In a lot of ways-and as weird as it sounds as old as some of us are, though I'm very young of course, especially compared to Creed-we sort of came up together. Steve, who now is a global superstar, he had done only one role in a movie and was a correspondent on The Daily Show back when it wasn't as big as it was now. We all lived through he experience of the show gaining popularity.
You know, Steve was the 40 Year Old Virgin and the success that so many of the cast has now, we all experienced those cool, fun, unique, amazing things together. So on a personal level, and with him as sort of our leader, it was difficult. We were definitely-losing makes it sound like he died-but we were losing an intimate friend that we were seeing every day and experienced all this together with.
At the same time, we respected his position. And at that point, he'd been the central character on an ensemble show, but he carried so much of the story for seven years that it made sense to us. We felt we could boomerang and change the trajectory and keep the show going at a high level, and I think it has. Especially this year, I'm tremendously happy with how the episodes are and where we're going as we wind down this last season.
So personally it was difficult. Steve as Michael Scott was brilliant, it's funny to all of us in a way-in terms of all the stuff that doesn't matter so much, awards and such-that he didn't get the recognition he deserved. I think he created a character that is iconic and you don't see on television very much, if at all. It was great to work with him and it was definitely hard to see him go. But it was a decision he needed to make and in some ways the show did too. It had to reinvent itself and that allowed us to go in a direction that I think will please people as we complete the series.
Two more quick ones, Kevin-wise: what was your favorite Kevin moment and what would a Kevin-run office or spin-off look like? (Forrest from Chicago, Ed from NYC)
For me, and probably for a lot of people, what we subconsciously think about when thinking about the development of Kevin or at least his IQ level, it's the stuff with Amy Ryan thinking Kevin was slow. That was my favorite runner. That was tremendously fun to play and she's so good, so it was a lot of fun.
And as weird as it sounds, because I know it would be different, but I'm not sure a Kevin run office would be much different than how our office runs now. I don't know that we'll have an opportunity to see that, everyone else may get a chance but I don't know about Kevin.
For a spin-off, we have a joke in the accounting department that we were going to spin off a Spanish language show called Los Contadores. But Kevin wouldn't be able to speak at all because he doesn't speak Spanish. So that's our inside joke that I believe we've had since the pilot.
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