Fans of NBC’s The Office know John Krasinski and B.J. Novak as their respective characters, Jim Halpert and Ryan Howard. However, their history dates long before ever stepping foot in Dunder Mifflin.
The Office, now a beloved NBC sitcom which ran for nine seasons, first premiered on March 24, 2005. As an adaptation of Ricky Gervais’ successful BBC mockumentary of the same name, series developer Greg Daniels introduced fans to the employees of Dunder Mifflin Scranton, an ordinary paper company.
Among the main cast in Season 1 was Steve Carell as Michael Scott, the extroverted Regional Manager, Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute, an eccentric salesman, and Jenna Fischer as receptionist Pam Beesly.
Completing the line-up was John Krasinski as affable salesman Jim Halpert and B.J. Novak as Ryan Howard, a temporary worker and the ‘new guy’ within Dunder Mifflin. Although the pilot episode depicted “Jim” and “Ryan” meeting for the first time, their actors’ real-life relationship dates back years before The Office even began.
John Krasinski and B.J. Novak both grew up in the state of Massachusetts – the former being born in Boston, while the latter was born only a few miles away in Newton, a suburban city. This coincidence also extends to their co-star Steve Carell, who was likewise born near Boston.
Krasinski and Novak first became acquainted at an early age and played on the same Little League team, as Novak revealed during a 2014 appearance on Ellen: “John Krasinski and I have known each other our whole lives, in the weirdest, most coincidental way. We played Little League together. There’s a picture in my house of a Little League team I was on in sixth grade. I was sick that day [the photo was taken]. John is in this photo that’s been in my house my whole life and I’m not.”
Between 1993 and 1997, the pair were both students at Newton South High School, located in Novak’s aforementioned home city. Through their work on The Office, which included individually writing and directing for the show, it is fair to say that Krasinski and Novak have become among the most celebrated alumni from Newton South High.
In their senior year at Newton South, Novak would cast Krasinski in a satirical play, ultimately a precursor to their future working relationship on The Office.