On tonight’s hour-long The Office, the love story between Jim and Pam goes to the next level when little Halpert is welcomed into the world. Vulture caught up with the delightful, Pam-portraying Jenna Fischer this week as she had just finished up shooting for the day to discuss her all-time favorite episode, what it’s like playing softball with childhood hero Ozzie Smith, and what to expect from tonight’s episode.
You’re originally from St. Louis. Congratulations on participating in last year’s All-Star Game celebrity-softball game on your home turf.
That was really amazing, because I had not been in the new stadium, so to have the first time I was seeing the stadium happen from the field, was pretty amazing. It’s a gorgeous stadium. And, also, to play with my childhood heroes like Ozzie Smith. And, within the game, I fielded a ball which I passed to Ozzie Smith. I mean, that was pretty awesome! Apparently [Ozzie] and Brian Baumgartner — who plays Kevin on the show — play golf together. And I was thinking that I was going to be the cool person on The Office who knows Ozzie Smith … and here Brian’s known him for years.
Does Pam ever think that the grass was greener on the other side when comparing her old job as receptionist to her new job in sales?
Oh, gosh. That’s probably just my real self, the Jenna, coming out. I miss that desk a little bit. I’ve had so many conflicted feelings about Pam becoming a salesperson. On the one hand, the whole story line where she went off with Michael and they started the Michael Scott Paper Company — I think that felt like a whole new horizon. And it was really exciting for Pam, and it was really exciting for me to play that. When we came back in the office, it seemed a little weird that she would [be] going back to the status of a receptionist again. With the Sabre sales program, she can make a lot of money as a salesperson; this is really good for her new family. But, I don’t think that Pam is passionate about this particular job. I think some of those looks are about her reliving and remembering those times she was falling in love with Jim and she sat behind that desk. It’s kind of sentimental.
So, the question was going to be “Is Pam jealous of Erin?” But, instead: Is Jenna jealous of Erin?
It’s hard to say. My desk is way better now because it’s warmer. Our set is really, really cold, and, when you sit at the reception desk, you’re kind of a pariah — everybody stands at your desk and faces the other way. They use the desk to sit down their coffee or water bottles. You’re just an aspect of them being at the reception desk — even as the actor that sort of has a lower status. You’re not in the center of things where all the magic is happening. Now that I’m at that clump of desks with Dwight and Jim, I’m loving it. I’m in on all the inside jokes, I’m right in the middle of it. But, I don’t know … there was something about being the first person that Michael would see in the morning — I loved that dynamic with Michael and I definitely miss that.
In the first few seasons, Pam and Jim loved mocking the system. Now they are the system.
A little bit. I think what is sort of cool about Jim and Pam is that we watched them grow up — and thankfully so. Because I think when you get into your 30s and you’re married and you have a family, it’s realistic to become a part of things. You can’t just mock the system for your whole life — that’s youth. I think it would have gotten boring and repetitive if they had stayed at that one level forever. I’m really happy we get to grow.
It was a nice move to make the wedding episode happen at the beginning of the season, instead of making the whole season about the wedding.
And I liked that she was pregnant on her wedding day. Exactly what you said, I’m so happy we didn’t end season six with a wedding and [end] season seven with a baby. I’m glad that we weren’t predictable. And it surprised us! I yelped during the table read when I found out that Pam was pregnant.
And the wedding episode still maintained that typical Office tone. What will we see in the baby episode this Thursday night that separates it from, say, Elyse Keaton giving birth on Family Ties?
I think the really cool thing that happens, the basic setup, is with Pam and Jim’s insurance company. If you check into the hospital after midnight, she gets a whole extra day in the hospital. So, even though she has started to have contractions, she’s going to try and make it until midnight. So she goes to work as a way of distracting herself. Of course, her labor escalates throughout the day. Jim starts to freak out and wants to go to the hospital, and Pam is refusing to go. What you have are the two people in the office that were usually the voice of reason, have now become completely useless. And everybody else — all the weirdos and all the people normally messing things up — they are now the smart ones. It’s this great role reversal.
Is Creed involved?
Creed is involved. Creed is still weird.
Do you still have to wear the pregnancy pad?
I still have to wear it. You can’t go from being nine months pregnant to being nothing. After the birth I went down to belly C, now I’m down to belly A. I’m almost out of it. Pam is losing her weight nicely. Those last five pounds are giving her a bit of trouble.
What’s your personal favorite episode?
I think that my favorite episode — gosh, that’s so hard to say — I really love the episode “The Injury.” It’s an episode that Mindy Kaling wrote. One of the things that I love about it is, in that episode, Dwight gets a head injury and he’s really nice to Pam. And I got to play these scenes with Rainn [Wilson] where we were kind of friends … and I thought that was really neat.
It’s a big week for NBC. The Olympics are over and Leno is back at the Tonight Show. With the much-publicized problems at NBC, The Office is the one constant they still have. Does the cast or crew ever feel pressure because of that?
No, we are so separated from any type of politics like that. We don’t even shoot at the studio, we shoot at sound stages a good 35 minutes away from the studio. We are in our own little bubble just making our comedy show. I have to say, even now, after six years, it still kind of feels like something we’re making in our friend’s garage. And it’s shocking to me it’s on TV every week and that people know about it. We never get a chance to get too immersed in the Hollywood culture because we’re working stiffs who go out to North Hollywood by some train tracks and a crematorium and a junkyard — which, by the way, has car auctions every Friday, if anyone is interested.