The Office’s Ed Helms and Paul Lieberstein were kind enough to speak with the press today on the subject of the new Dunder Mifflin regional manager. In the process, we also got some great little tidbits on the Halloween episode, Josh Groban’s upcoming appearance, and the question likely to be on every Office fan’s mind: What’s the deal with the documentary?
If you’re caught up on the series (and if you’re not, stop reading!), then you know Ed Helm’s character Andy Bernard has been promoted to Regional Manager at Dunder Mifflin, taking over the position Michael Scott vacated when he moved to Denver to be with his girlfriend Holly. Last Thursday, we saw Andy put to the test as DMS CEO Robert California divided the staff based on who he thought had the potential to be winners (and who didn’t). Andy stepped up in the end, sticking up for most of the “other side” and proving he has some backbone.
On the subject of his character’s new role as office leader, Helms seems optimistic and curious, saying:
The biggest difference right out of the gate is that Michael was a well established manager for much of his run at Dunder Mifflin. Andy is just finding that. It’s a fresh new thing. Andy’s leadership is a little bit of an open question, and that’s what I’m really excited to flesh out. It was really fun in that opening episode to kind of see a little of that backbone and see what might be ahead.
The conversation later veered into more familiar territory, as writer (and the actor who plays Toby) Paul Lieberstein was asked about the Scranton Strangler and whether the unseen Scranton villain would ever re-emerge at some point. If you recall, Toby was on the jury that convicted a man for the stranglings taking place in the area. Apparently, the story may not be entirely wrapped up. Lieberstein talked about how the writers often over-script and said there was talk of extending the story. From the way he puts it, it sounds like there’s a possibility the real Scranton Strangler is still out there...
I think we actually did air a piece where Toby felt that he put the wrong man to death. We have a whole story that’s kind of playing out where Toby may start to establish a relationship with him and go visit him in jail. And then maybe there’s another strangling that happens to throw the whole thing in question.
My money’s still on Gabe! Although, if that’s the case, I hope the story doesn’t continue for a while as I really like Gabe being on the show. It would actually be hilarious if they brought the Scranton Strangler back and the whole office suspected Gabe. That might lead to something even more awkward than Erin dumping him in front of everyone.
Speaking of Erin, for those of you who want to see Erin and Andy back together, while Helms and Lieberstein didn’t exactly say that would be happening anytime soon, they did say there would be some tension brewing between the two and it might come to a head just in time for Halloween. “Erin finds herself in a place where she doesn’t know how to interpret the fact that Andy’s not giving her work. He’s maybe being a little quieter towards her,” Lieberstein said. And then Helms added, “Her Halloween costume is just preposterously adorable this year. That just makes it that much weirder.”
On the subject of Josh Groban’s appearance, they weren’t positive on when his episode will air, however Lieberstein said he thinks its sometime at the end of October. Ed Helms sounds very excited about the episode, in which Groban plays Andy’s brother, saying:
Josh is a part of a really exciting episode for me and for Andy because it’s really where we learn a lot about Andy, and not all of it’s good. Some of it’s sort of poignant. There of course is some fun music that gets mixed in there too.
He went on to add:
There is some rivalry but it takes a compelling turn that I think is unexpected. The source of the rivalry may not be what you expect. Of course Josh is a great singer and that wasn’t lost on our writers. I’m excited to show the fans kind of where and how Josh’s character fits into Andy’s life and also what it means for who Andy is, and it’s not all good.
To elaborate on that, Lieberstein said there are aspects of Andy exagerated in Josh, and that his character is “even more naive and sweeter, if you can believe it. It’s interesting to see the two of them together.”
I just want them to sing! And if what Helms says is true, we should have something musical to look forward to!
Finally, on the subject of the documentary, which was once again acknowledged in a rare moment last season when Michael Scott was leaving (He asked the camera crew to let him know when the documentary airs), from what Lieberstein says, it’s less about what and when and more about why the documentary was being made in the first place.
“I think that’ll be a very fun reveal, but it might not be about what you think,” Lieberstein said. “I think what we didn’t see was the very first episode, which is why the documentary is there. What they came in for.”
What does that mean? Could this whole thing be some sort of elaborate corporate training video that never got made? Or perhaps they’re there to document the life/work of one specific character. If that’s the case, my money’s on Creed.
The Office airs Thursday nights at 9:00 p.m. ET on NBC.