How Jenna Fischer Nailed The Part of Pam Beesly in Her 'Office' Audition

Jenna Fischer, alum of the NBC hit sitcom The Office, gets to regularly relive her Dunder Mifflin days through her podcast “Office Ladies” alongside former co-star Angela Kinsey. Fischer’s role as Pam Beesly and her relationship with co-worker Jim Halpert (played by John Krasinski) who she falls in love with and marries turned out to be a central storyline on the show, with the couple still living on in syndicated infamy.  

Fischer had to beat out several other actresses for the part of Pam and had some ideas on how to land the role when she went to audition.

On-the-job training

Fortunately for the actress, Fischer had hands-on experience working in an office while trying to make it big in Hollywood.

“I earned my living as an administrative assistant for seven years as a struggling actress, so I had many office jobs,” she told the Hollywood Reporter in 2017. “I could never have anticipated that I was going to end up playing a receptionist or a secretary on a television show at the time.”

The sitcom star found her previous professional experience to be a great asset in developing her onscreen character. “Ultimately, having worked in an office I think gave me details to my character and world that I wouldn’t have had if I’d never worked in an actual office,” Fischer explained.

Taking on the role

According to Screenrant, Fischer won over the casting director for The Office by using her former administrative experience in her audition. Knowing that the character of Pam was supposed to keep a low profile except when her love interest (Jim) stopped by her desk, Fischer played the part by saying very little and giving one-word answers during her performance. She also wore a minimal amount of makeup and conservative attire to reflect a business-type persona.

Reading with Krasinski when he auditioned for the part of Jim also clinched the role for Fischer and sealed the couple’s destiny. “I did chemistry reads with the various people… When I met John and I was reading with John, everything was easy. It was effortless.” she said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “I just felt the most like Pam in the easiest way. All of our work together felt so honest.”

She found reading with Krasinski helped her naturally become the part of Pam. “Chemistry between actors, it’s a very elusive thing. To me what it means is it’s easy and effortless to access your character with that other actor,” Fischer said. “I did feel that immediately with Jim. I mean with John! I was relieved that they cast John because it made my job so much easier.”

Other contenders

Screenrant reported that the role of Pam was based on Dawn Tinsley (played by actress Lucy Davis), the receptionist from the original British version of The Office created by Ricky Gervais. Wanting to keep certain similarities, show developer Greg Daniels sought out actresses who emulated that character.

Mary Lynn Rajskub of 24 fame and Kathryn Hahn from Bad Moms both tried out for the part, as well as actresses Anne Dudek and Ever Carradine. Fischer’s BFF Angela Kinsey originally auditioned for the now-infamous receptionist role, but the casting crew felt she would be a better fit as the Angela Martin character.

Clearly, Fischer was the perfect choice to play Pam alongside Krasinski’s Jim. While Office fans stay hopeful of a series reboot, they can bide their time by watching their favorite couple on reruns.

Fischer’s podcast  “Office Ladies” is now available online.

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