Photo by Danny Feld/NBC
After nine seasons the gang at Dundler-Mifflin is calling it quits. With just two episodes left of The Office, fans have been on a roller coaster ride this season as the show’s romantic core, Jim and Pam Halpert, have struggled through some major relationship growing pains. Pam (Jenna Fisher) has been less than happy as her husband has split his time between the paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and his new sports marketing company in Philadelphia. But after some serious tension, they finally seem back on track. In a recent conference call interview star John Krasinski talked about the decision to pursue the difficult storyline.
John recounted how the whole idea came about, “My whole pitch to [Executive Producer] Greg [Daniels] was that we’ve done so much with Jim and Pam. And now after marriage and kids there was a bit of a lull there for them about what they wanted to do. And the idea of Jim’s ambition was always one of my favorite things from the early seasons — between Australia and trying to be the boss at corporate and NYC. And all those things, for me, were really exciting that Jim always felt like there was something that he could be doing more of and then I wanted to explore that.”
He might have been the one to present the concept, but the 33-year-old actor gave credit where credit was due. As he recalled, “The idea of him going to another city came from my brother, actually. In his work at the beginning of his job, he was traveling a lot all over the country for all his different clients and it was definitely a strain on the family in a very new way. Obviously, not a strain that was as dramatic as what we did on the show, but it was a thing where seemingly simple things like basic spending time with your children in the same city was becoming more and more difficult, and just harder to do mentally.”
John was eager to explore the central question “Can you have this perfect relationship go through a split and keep it the same?” He added, “Which of course, you can’t. And I said to Greg, ‘It would be really interesting to see how that split will affect two people that you know so well.’”
Still it was a risky idea given that fans have rabidly rooting for Jim and Pam since the show first started and she was dating Roy from the warehouse. But John new the devotees would go along. As he remarked, “The exciting thing was to know that the audience would take a guess at what Jim would do and what Pam would do.”
And he knew the writers would create a situation worthy of the characters. John acknowledged, “To run those numbers on this relationship was really, really interesting to me — rather than introducing an affair or something like that, which [is] a huge credit to Greg and the writers. They’ve never gone the easy route. They’ve always gone the very realistic route and I’ve always really, really admired that.”
In fact, that’s one of the core elements that has kept John happy at work. He revealed, “My favorite thing about the show has always been, especially with the Jim and Pam story, how real the writers have always been to a relationship in that yes, they’re incredibly blissful times... But there’s also times where the world around them can stall out and feel like it’s not enough or that it is enough or feel bland or more exciting from time-to-time.”
Luckily viewers were given a glimmer of hope that everything would work out with Jim and Pam in a recent episode. After a bit of marriage counseling and a renewed commitment to their marriage, they shared a passionate kiss in the Dunder-Mifflin parking lot. John noted, “I remember Greg saying, very smartly, ‘We have to give the audience something, as far as trying to see light at the end of the tunnel.”
Yet with two episodes left, anything could happen on The Office. As for what’s to come in the final two episodes, John teased, “Jim needs to figure out what he wants to do with [Philly] and Pam needs to figure out how she feels about Jim doing this for her. And so it’s an interesting thing that Greg was really smart to say, ‘We can’t just hold this out to the last episode and have people almost getting terrified to the point where they wouldn’t enjoy the finale.’”
Tune in to the final two installments of The Office on Thursday nights at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. Central on NBC.