Wilson posted a photo on his Facebook page Tuesday (March 19) of the sign-in sheet from the first day of auditions for the show on Nov. 6, 2003. The show’s casting director, Allison Jones, kept the document and gave it to Wilson when filming ended last week, he says.
Wilson, who at the time was recurring on HBO’s “Six Feet Under,” was the first person to audition and signed in as auditioning for either Dwight, the role he’d end up getting, or Michael, eventually played by Steve Carell (who came aboard in early 2004). Others auditioning to play Dwight included Matt Besser (“Walk Hard”), Matt Price (“Men of a Certain Age”) and Jarrett Grode (“Undeclared”).
Price would end up guesting on “The Office” in 2006, and Besser has guested on a few episodes of “Parks and Recreation,” which “Office” developer Greg Daniels would go on to co-create.
The list of people reading for Michael, Pam and Jim offers up a bunch of interesting could’ve beens. Mary Lynn Rajskub, who was new to the cast of “24” at the time, auditioned to play Pam. So did Anne Dudek (“House,” “Covert Affairs”) and Ever Carradine — along with Jenna Fischer, who of course got the part eventually.
Alan Tudyk, who was coming off the cancellation of “Firefly,” auditioned to play Michael. Other Michaels that day were Ben Falcone (“Bridesmaids”), Bill Chott (“Wizards of Waverly Place”) and comedian Jim Zulevic, suggesting the show was casting a wide net for the lead role. Reports at the time also had NBC courting Paul Giamatti (who declined), Hank Azaria, Martin Short and Bob Odenkirk — who earlier this season played a very Michael-esque manager at a company in Philadelphia where Pam interviewed for a job — before Carell signed on.
It’s a pretty impressive collection of talent coming in for one day of auditions, and it’s a lot of fun to think what might have been had, say, Scott won the role of Jim. Would John Krasinski now be married to Amy Poehler on “Parks and Rec” as a result? Or, if Rajskub had beaten out Fischer for Pam, would Chloe have died a horrible death on “24”?
“The Office” likely still would have been a good show if some of these people had been cast in the roles they auditioned for. But it would have been a different show, and who knows if it would have lasted nine seasons.
What’s the most intriguing could-have-been on this list for you?