Despite the fact that The Office wasn’t too popular during its first couple of seasons, the casting process for the hit show was extremely competitive. In fact, John Krasinski (who portrayed Jim Halpert) likened the experience of getting cast to winning the lottery. Dozens of talented actors tried out for each and every role and the majority of them didn’t make the cut. However, there is one member of the cast who never had to experience the hassle of auditioning.
Though she didn’t become a series regular until later seasons, Phyllis Smith was a memorable character from the show’s very beginning. Smith portrayed Phyllis Lapin Vance and her character oscillates from being a wet blanket to a sassy life of the party. One of the best things about Phyllis is that she constantly keeps fans guessing and when she does say some of her more outlandish and memorable lines, fans of The Office and characters in the show rarely see it coming.
Jenna Fischer revealed Phyllis Smith never actually auditioned for ‘The Office’
Perhaps the character of Phyllis is so entertaining because it was actually written specifically for Smith. Prior to joining the show, Smith was working as a casting associate for Allison Jones (who cast The Office). As a casting associate, Smith was required to read lines for actors who came in to audition. In fact, Smith actually read lines with Jenna Fischer (who played Pam Beesly) when she auditioned for the show.
“I think this is an interesting tidbit,’ Fischer shared on an episode of Office Ladies. “Phyllis Smith, who plays Phyllis on the show, she was the casting associate for The Office. So when I auditioned for The Office, she read my audition scenes with me.” Continuing on, Fischer revealed that Ken Kwapis (who directed the series premiere) loved the way Smith read so much that he implored the show’s creator, Greg Daniels, to write her into the show.
How Smith landed in the cast
Daniels eventually agreed, and Smith went from casting associate to a bonafide member of The Office cast. Over time, Smith’s role continued to expand and fans of the show fell in love with her quirky character. But just how did Smith feel about the career change? In a 2013 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Smith shared that it was the experience of a lifetime.
“I have had the time of my life playing Phyllis Lapin Vance,” Smith revealed. “The Office experience is one that will never be duplicated on television. We were ahead of our time when we started with the unconventional awkward pauses and silences, and no canned laughter telling the audience when they should be laughing. Instead, we allowed the audience to make their own choices of what they thought was funny. I loved every minute of our nine years together and feel very blessed to have been part of the ensemble of The Office.”
While Smith’s journey to being a member of The Office cast may have been an unconventional one, she seems to have enjoyed herself just as much as those who went through the arduous audition process.
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