When a show is a huge success, it’s hard to imagine the characters being played by anyone else. One such show is The Office, which was such an enormous hit that it’s difficult to remember that the characters aren’t real – and that other actors auditioned to play them. Rainn Wilson, who plays the infamous beet-loving, farm-owning Assistant to the Regional Manager, Dwight Shrute, posted a picture of the original actor sign-in sheet from the first day of auditions for The Office from November 6, 2003 on Facebook yesterday. Check out the talented actors who auditioned for the leading roles of Dwight, Jim Halpert, Pam Beesly and Michael Scott:
This is the original sign-in sheet for the first day of casting for The Office given to me by Allison Jones, our incredible casting agent. I was the very first person to audition for the series, 11/06/03. Notice all the amazing talent on the sheet, including the amazing #13! This is perhaps the greatest Office keepsake I have. So grateful for the best job I will ever have.
Rainn ‘Benedict Cumberbatch’ Wilson
And here are the roles from the list and the actors and actresses auditioning for them:
First of all, Rainn Wilson as Michael? I guess actors are obviously versatile, but it’s difficult to see Rainn Wilson as anyone but Dwight. It’s a shame when people are forever typecast like that, but it’s true: won’t you always see James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano? Jason Alexander as George Costanza? Rainn was made to play Dwight. That being said, I think it’s absolutely fitting that he wanted Michael Scott’s job 🙂
Ben Falcone is Melissa McCarthy’s husband who had a bit part in Bridesmaids, where he played the air marshal sitting next to Melissa McCarthy’s character on the airplane, and then later, her boyfriend. He’s no doubt a talented actor, but I don’t know if I see him as Michael Scott.
Alan Tudyk: a tow-headed Michael Scott? Don’t mind if I do! Michael Scott would have envied all the roles Alan got to do for hit movies and shows like Knocked Up, Dodgeball, Ice Age, Napoleon Dynamite, and Wreck-It Ralph, among others.
Jim Zulevic would have been one of Michael Scott’s improv heroes, but the Second City comedian died suddenly in 2006 at the age of 40.
Bill Chott would have been another of Michael Scott’s improv heroes; he was even a part of the comedy troupe Second City with Steve Carell (let’s hope there was no bad blood after he Steve got the part!). And Bill was the announcer on the recurring segment “First Served/First Come,” on Saturday Night Live, while Steve Carell auditioned for the show but lost to Will Ferrell. AND Bill commented on the picture Rainn Wilson posted of this sign-in sheet, so we know he’s a good sport:
Adam Scott (seen in the photo at the top of the post) auditioned for the role of Jim! Actually, I could see this: both are good-looking, affable guys who could easily play the protagonist in any show or film. Plus, they are two of the most talented guysin the world at doing silent “normal guy” facial reactions for the camera! In fact, Adam played a very similar character to Jim on the show Party Down. His character, Henry, was always ready with a witty quip, and he and Casey (Lizzy Kaplan) were the normal, attractive, slightly-underachieving Jim and Pam-like characters creating a foil to the enthusiastic Michael Scott of the show, Ron (Ken Marino). But then if Adam won the role of Jim, we might never have had him in Party Down… or Step Brothers… or Parks and Recreation. And John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer have such chemistry together. This all happened for the best.
Hamish Linklater might never have starred in The New Adventures of Old Christine if he had won the part of Jim, but he does have a certain tousled hair/big-eared resemblance to John Krasinski that I never before realized!
Rainn Wilson was the first audition of the day. It just doesn’t seem right that anyone else would have played the role of Dwight. Rainn was born for this!
Matt Besser is the second person on this list to turn rejection from The Office into success on Parks and Recreation!
Matt Price lost the role of Dwight, but made an appearance on one episode of the second season of The Office. Glad to see there were no hard feelings!
Jarrett Grode couldn’t have been Dwight: he has a perpetual beard, for God’s sake!
Pam Beesly Halpert
Mary Lynn Rajskub (Seen with Adam Scott in the graphic at the top of the post) bears a physical resemblance to Jenna Fischer, but if she was cast as Jenna, she wouldn’t have gotten her huge break on 24; she was cast on the show as Chloe O’Brian in 2003, the same year The Office auditions took place.
Ever Carradine is the second actress on this list to have lost the part of Pam, but got a role on 24 (as Erika)!
Jenna Fischer won the role of Pam and simultaneously won our hearts! She and Jim have one of the most storied television romances of our time. I don’t think we could have rooted for anyone else as much as we did for those two.
Anne Dudek may have never have made it to House where she played Dr. Amber Volakis; instead of a doctor, she would be playing a secretary (turn salesperson/self-appointed office manager)!