For nine seasons, Brian Baumgartner played Dunder Mifflin accountant Kevin Malone on “The Office”, and on Wednesday he paid a visit to “The Viall Files”, the podcast hosted by former Bachelor Nick Viall.
During the appearance, Baumgartner discussed his new podcast, “The Office Deep Dive”, and looked back to how some childhood health difficulties led him to theatre.
“If I had an early dream, it was that I was going to be a professional baseball player, but my bone was twisted in my leg from birth… It wasn’t dramatic, it was something that I could have lived with, but if you want to be a professional baseball player, that doesn’t work… so I electively got a procedure, but something went wrong, and I was experiencing lots of pain post surgery. The doctors took the cast off and it had burned through my Achilles tendon… so I ended up in a wheelchair, but I was a very active kid, I was playing tennis, basketball, baseball, and I needed to find something else, and that’s how I got into theatre,” he explained.
As Baumgartner revealed, he was a huge fan of Ricky Gervais’ original British version of “The Office”. When he learned that NBC was doing an American remake, he jumped on it. “I called my agent and said this is the show, she said to me they are looking for unknown people but they are not looking for you unknown, like totally unknown,” he joked. “But my manager worked and worked and got me a meeting with [casting director] Alison Jones.”
Asked when he first felt the show connect with viewers, he cited “the most major thing” that got the show attention “was a little movie called ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’.” When the Steve Carell-starring became a surprise box-office hit, he recalled, “NBC couldn’t let who was quickly becoming the biggest star in comedy film, go… they were like we have the guy under contract, let’s see if we can try to get something, so the second season came back, and by December of that year, the first Christmas episode we did, it got 10 million views,” he said.
Baumgartner also shared the biggest meta-joke on the show: his character being the lead singer and drummer in a Police cover band. “It would take a musical savant to be able to sing Police while playing the drums, it’s almost impossible and that was the joke,” he explained. “And [the series’ creators] were constantly trying to find dichotomies within all of the characters that gave the show its complexity.”
When Carell exited the show in the seventh season, Baumgartner admitted he was worried about how the show would end.
“Season 8 we were all trying to figure out where we were, the structure of the show wasn’t as simple, it all started to change, but the last season, we had the rare opportunity that played out over a season which was [showrunner] Greg Daniels knew how he wanted to air this show from the beginning, which was for this documentary they had been shooting for nine years to air,” he said.
“What he felt like was he always wanted to do that but he couldn’t do it because if you look at reality TV, once people see themselves on TV their behaviour changes… you’ve now seen how a producer is portraying you, how things are cut, edited, like when Dwight and Angela had an affair that they didn’t think anyone saw… he felt like once that aired then the show was done,” he added.