THE OFFICE: John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, and Greg Daniels Talk Jim and Pam’s Marriage Issues
January 25, 2013 by Marisa Roffman
Fans of THE OFFICE were more than a little alarmed when in the latest episode, “Customer Loyalty,” Jim and Pam had an over-the-phone fight that was so bad, it caused one of the crew members on the “documentary” that has been “capturing” the past nine seasons of the series to break the fourth wall to try and comfort a very upset Pam.
“We had been very, I think, respectful of their marriage and their relationship,” THE OFFICE showrunner Greg Daniels told reporters on set during last week’s TCA session. “And we didn’t want to put pressures on them for a very long time, and then part of the appeal of this last season, was to try and do that. And it was actually — the specifics of it was John [Krasinski (Jim)]‘s idea that he had — in terms of going to Philadelphia and the new company, which I guess had happened to [his] brother [in real life]…”
“My brother was traveling around a lot in one of his jobs,” Krasinski confirmed. “He was traveling so much, so I got the idea of being away from family and the sacrifices that need to be made, but the sort of incredible ambition and potential to have an exciting job as he did, and, you know, for me I think that there was always this thing — the thing I’ve respected most about this show is how real the base level is and how real all the characters are that no matter how wacky or fun or ridiculous some of the situations can be, you’ve experienced something very real with all these characters. And so especially with the Jim and Pam stuff, I remember [season 2's] ‘Booze Cruise,’ I remember being on the top of that boat and shooting that scene and sort of having that impulse to look behind me to see if anybody was going to call ‘cut’ or anything because it just seemed like this isn’t how it’s done in television or anything having to do with a camera, that this is only in real life that someone would take forever to say ‘I love you’ or be so nervous that no words come out, or some of these things that are so real, and they were able to delve into that headfirst. It was such an honor to play stuff like that.”
“So with this relationship, the discussions that we had were just like…Greg and the writers were really open to hearing, what’s the real idea?” Krasinski continued. “And the real idea was someone having a feeling that they can do more and be more, which has always been a thing for Jim. I’ve always gotten questions about, ‘Is he content? Is this what he wants?’…So it just becomes a question of, to me, that always felt like the writers had done such a good job that people were actually interested in whether or not Jim was going to be more, do more. So for this it was just one more step. I’m in a real relationship. I mean, even the most perfect marriage can have strenuous days, strenuous months, strenuous situations where it’s not necessarily as, you know, TV-esque as cheating on someone. It’s really just about small things that have been niggling at you forever start to become bigger things, and then before you know it, you feel like you’ve explained that to someone and they have no idea what was happening. Just a couple years later, you’re like, ‘I told you all these ambitions I had, right?’ And you don’t realize that those ambitions hadn’t been discussed.”
His on-screen wife, Jenna Fischer (Pam), seemed equally pleased that the duo will be facing realistic problems.
“I think in the total life of a marriage…the lives of the two people who got married don’t stay exactly the same,” Fischer agreed. “And for the first time in Jim and Pam’s relationship, something is changing in a pretty major way. You know, people get laid off or people get new jobs or somebody has to work out of town or you have a surprise baby. There’s all these things that happen in a marriage, curve balls, and so far Jim and Pam haven’t really had one, and this year they do.”
And since it’s the final season of the series, that’s allowing the writers the chance to address some of the seeds they’ve been planting for years.
“From the writing standpoint, what we’re very excited about is the Jim and Pam relationship was really engaging to our fans,” Daniels said. “And on the websites that follow the show, you can really see how important it was to them, and a lot of them have sort of grown up in their relationships with the show, and one of the things we really wanted to explore thematically this season was the difference between the fairytale romance and reality. Because the show was always an extremely realistic show and was purporting to be a documentary, but their relationship is also so romantic and perfect, and it seemed like there was a little bit of tension there.”
“And I think part of this also goes to why have it be the last season, which is you can’t artistically wrap things up and make callbacks to the fact that he almost took a job in New York in the end of season 3 and came back for Pam and now that thwarted ambition is finding an outlet,” Daniels continued. “All these kind of interesting things that tie up earlier seasons you couldn’t do if you just kept going and going until you got cancelled. So one of the things that we’re excited about for this year is the chance for people who have been following the show, all the fans who have been following it religiously for years, to really get off on all the connections and the wrap-ups and the artistry that we’re trying to bring to the end.”
THE OFFICE airs Thursdays at 9 PM on NBC