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Mindy Kaling From ‘The Office’ on Life As Kelly

Courtesy of NBC

After four agonizing, Dwight-free months, The Office finally returns tonight at nine on NBC. Mindy Kaling, who writes for the show and stars as chatty, pop-culture-obsessed customer-service rep Kelly Kapoor, talked Vulture’s ear off about the upcoming fourth season, what the cast is like behind the scenes, and the subtle differences between her and her character.

Can you tell us any gossip about the upcoming season?
I am really proud of Dwight. This is the season of Rainn Wilson shining; he’s so funny and he’s a really good dramatic actor. We made him go through some intense stuff, and I think it’s going to be really great. I also know that Rashida’s [Jones] other show got picked up, but if you miss Karen, don’t worry, you’ll have something to look forward to. Do you know about Ryan’s new look?

The five o’clock shadow? Yep.
Well, I love that new look for him. He looks like Scar from The Lion King.

He dumped you last season in a pretty mean way. Is your life like Kelly’s at all?
I have a boyfriend who is not trying to fire me the way that Ryan is. We share a few characteristics, though. I sound like a 9-year-old girl, I think. I have a deep love of online shopping, I am very committed to people like Beyoncé, and that is very similar. In the Venn diagram of Kelly versus me, though, I don’t think we have that many things in common.

Is there another show that the cast of The Office obsesses over?
Everybody loves The Wire. I don’t love The Wire because it’s too complicated to follow. It’s like The Godfather. They think it’s the most amazing thing ever. My boss is obsessed with Harry Potter. Oh, and we love cakes. Whenever we win something, you’d think we’d go immediately for the booze, but we love cake. Oh, my God, this is so fucking boring.

In terms of family dynamics, how do all the cast members interact?
Angela [Kinsley] and Jenna [Fischer] are like twin sister best friends. B.J. [Novak] and I are the same age and we started together as writer-performers, so he’s my best friend on the staff and one of my best friends in life. Steve [Carell] is the dad, Rainn [Wilson] is the pussy mom, and Jenna is the homecoming queen that got into Princeton early. B.J. is the asshole smoker 14-year-old who listens to Limp Bizkit. Paul [Lieberstein] is the sad sack of an uncle who got divorced four times and lives downstairs on a fold-out couch in the TV room. Leslie [David Baker] is the neighbor, and Phyllis [Smith] is everybody’s favorite grandmother. I’m going to get into a lot of trouble for this, I think.

What character do you have the most fun with?
We love Creed, obviously. He has a colorful past, and he’s so old, so he can say that he’s done a lot of things. I’m also really loving Ed Helms, and I think that the character is going to be a little less annoying this year. I guess I can tease that you’re going to be seeing Andy in a more romantic light, wooing people. I can say that, and that’s very funny. You’ll get to see a lot of singing and tons of a cappella.

Have you heard about this Office Convention that’s taking place at the end of October? People are paying up to $250 per ticket to visit Scranton and have an Office-filled weekend.
Yes! I’m going to that actually.

There are going to be screenings of all the episodes at local theaters and a trolley ride to all the “landmarks” from the show.
Oh, my God, that is hilarious because when we write that stuff, we just Google. Like when we needed to reference a coffee store, we’d just Google “coffee shop Scranton” and use whatever we got.

And you’ve created a landmark!
The laziness has paid off. I am really just looking forward to getting some free stuff.
—Sadia Latifi

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Mindy Kaling From ‘The Office’ on Life As Kelly