NBC’s The Office aired for nine seasons between 2005-2013. While some actors were lucky enough to secure the roles they auditioned for on the series, many others did not make the cut.
When thinking of The Office, the classic characters and the actors who played them come to mind. NBC assembled cast which included Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, BJ Novak and Ed Helms, among many others, during the nine season run.
Thanks to Wilson specifically, fans now know the identities of some of the other potential cast members who auditioned for The Office – more specifically, who was present on the very first day of auditioning. During an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, Wilson revealed that casting director Allison Jones had sent him the sign-in sheet from November 6th, 2003. As his name was on the top of this list, Rainn Wilson was the very first actor to audition for NBC’s The Office, as it was being adapted from its BBC counterpart.
Although the majority of actors on the list did not secure positions with Dunder Mifflin, many have gone on to find success on other shows, whether as series regulars or recurring guests. Let’s take a look at what might have been…
Rainn Wilson – Dwight
As fans of The Office will already know, Rainn Wilson won the part of Dwight K. Schrute, Dunder Mifflin Scranton’s quirky and somewhat Assistant (to) the Regional Manager. Wilson was the only cast member of The Office to appear in all 201 episodes and later became a producer of the series. Previously, he was best known for his recurring role as ‘Arthur Martin’ on HBO’s Six Feet Under from 2003 to 2005.
Adam Scott – Jim
Yes, before landing role of Ben Wyatt on NBC’s Parks and Recreation (created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur), Adam Scott was a contender for the role of Jim Halpert on The Office, losing out to John Krasinski. Don’t feel too bad for Scott though, he still ended up on a NBC mockumentary. Parks and Recreation ultimately ran for seven seasons – although Scott joined in the second season. Immediately prior to Parks and Recreation, Scott had played the lead role in the Starz sitcom Party Down.
Mary Lynn Rajskub – Pam
Before assisting Jack Bauer at CTU, actress/comedian Mary Lynn Rajskub was auditioning to play Dunder Mifflin receptionist Pam on The Office. Although Jenna Fischer landed the role of Pam, Rajskub’s breakout role as Chloe O’Brian on 24 was imminentDebuting in 24’s third season, Rajskub eventually became the show’s longest-serving female cast member, as well as the third most tenured in the overall franchise.
Hamish Linklater – Jim
Hamish Linklater was another actor who unsuccessfully auditioned to play Jim Halpert. However, a year following The Office airing, Linklater landed the starring role of ‘Matthew’ on CBS’ sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine. Also starring Julia-Louis Dreyfuss and Clark Gregg, Linklater played the former’s brother on the show, which ran for five seasons.
Ben Falcone – Michael
While it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Steve Carell playing Michael Scott, it turns out that Ben Falcone was one of the many actors who auditioned for the role. Falcone is married to comedic actress Melissa McCarthy and has appeared in many of her projects, including Bridesmaids, Identity Thief, Spy and Life Of The Party.
Alan Tudyk – Michael
Alan Tudyk, who starred in the short-lived FOX cult classic Firefly, also auditioned to play Michael Scott. Instead of presiding over Dunder Mifflin Scranton, Tudyk is known for his character work in numerous films, including Star Wars: Rogue One, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Transformers: Dark of The Moon, I. Robot and DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story.
Matt Besser – Dwight
Had Rainn Wilson not won the role of Dwight, actor Matt Besser is among those who could have taken his place. Also a comedian and writer, Besser is probably best known for co-founding the comedy group Upright Citizens Brigade. Throughout its history, other members have included Amy Poehler, Neil Flynn and Rich Fulcher, among others.
Matt Price – Dwight
Another Matt who auditioned for Dwight was actor/writer Matt Price. Despite not securing the series regular role, Price later appeared as a guest character, Evan, in a third season episode of The Office.
His other work has included Regular Show, New Girl and Mighty Med.
Jarrett Grode – Dwight
Actor Jarrett Grode was also a contender for the role of Dwight Schrute. Compared to several of the other actors on this list, Grode has made significantly less screen appearances. His biggest role to date has been an 11-episode arc as ‘Perry’ on Undeclared between 2001-2003.
Ever Carradine – Pam
The daughter of actor/Lizzie McGuire patriarch Robert Carradine, actress Ever Carradine (pictured on the left) is known for her roles on shows such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Runaways and Once and Again. However, one role which Carradine auditioned for and did not land was that of receptionist Pam Beesly on The Office.
Jim Zulevic – Michael
Actor, improvisational comedian, writer and radio host Jim Zulevic auditioned to play Michael Scott. Although he didn’t get the part, Zulevic made appearances on diverse series such as Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Prison Break and The Shield.
Zulevic is also the only actor on this list to have since passed away, dying suddenly in 2005 of a suspected heart attack. He was 40 years of age.
Bill Chott – Michael
Although Bill Chott did not land the role of Michael Scott, he has managed to attain international recognition. Younger viewers will perhaps know him best as school principal “Mr. Laritate” on Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place, which aired between 2007-2012. He also made a memorable appearance as the emotionally affected ‘Mailman’ on hit NBC drama This Is Us, sharing the screen with regular Sterling K. Brown, following the death of Randall Pearson’s (Brown) father William.
Jenna Fischer – Pam
After almost a decade as a struggling actor in Los Angeles, Jenna Fischer booked the role of Pam Beesly on The Office, a character which mirrored her real life experiences as a secretary and administrative worker. Fischer stayed with the show for its duration and like Rainn Wilson, later also became a producer.
As of late 2019, Fischer and former co-star Angela Kinsey (who played Angela Martin) host an Office-themed rewatch podcast titled Office Ladies.
Anne Dudek – Pam
Last but not least on the list is Anne Dudek, another unsuccessful candidate for the role of Pam. Rather than be deterred by the setback, Dudek continued her career and became known for roles on shows including House (as Dr. Amber Volakis), How I Met Your Mother, Covert Affairs and The Flash, among others.
So, there you have it! These are all of the actors who were present for the first day of auditions for The Office. You can view the picture yourself on OfficeTally.com.