Brian Baumgartner Says He 'Wanted to Distance' Himself from Kevin Malone After The Office

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The Office's Brian Baumgartner Dishes on His Brand New Podcast, the Green Bay Packers and More!
The Office's Brian Baumgartner Dishes on His Brand New Podcast, the Green Bay Packers and More!

Getty Images Brian Baumgartner

Some actors become synonymous with their most famous roles, and Brian Baumgartner knows the feeling.

The Office alum told Entertainment Weekly he tried to take on roles opposite of Kevin Malone after the series' eight-year run, but wasn't able to fully leave the character behind.

"I wanted to distance myself," Baumgartner, 49, explained of his career decisions after The Office. "I thought, 'I don't want to be Kevin Malone forever.'"

The actor said many of the job opportunities that came after his longtime role were similar in nature to the aloof, clumsy Kevin. "I spent a long time turning down roles that I felt were too similar or wanted a similar sort of feeling and character," he shared.

But with the show streaming on platforms like Netflix and Peacock — and the unending love for the series from die-hard fans — leaving Kevin behind became nearly impossible. Not to mention the now-iconic chili day scene, which Baumgartner called "symbolic of the show."

"It all just built this momentum," Baumgartner said. "Which was like, 'Well, I don't think I'm going to be escaping this one anytime soon.'"

Brian Baumgartner; Ellie Kemper
Brian Baumgartner; Ellie Kemper

Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank Brian Baumgartner on The Office

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Despite his best efforts, Baumgartner is still highly-associated with the character.

He was listed in the top three celebrities to be requested on video app Cameo in 2021, according to USA Today. On the platform, Baumgartner charges $195 per personalized video — and is listed as one of the few Office cast members willing to make the customizable messages.

As for why the role of Kevin was so defining — and beloved — Baumgartner spoke in depth about how long The Office was in production. "The Office being 10 years, nine seasons, I mean, I was essentially on the show the entirety of my thirties," he said.

"I mean, it was a decade. To give people perspective, that's like progressing from high school through college and then a couple of more years," he added. "It's such a long period of your life and you establish such deep relationships and obviously, such close identification with those characters."

The Office cast
The Office cast

Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty The cast of The Office

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Baumgartner still considers his experience on the NBC show to be a good one — even if it means he'll be known as Kevin forever.

"I consider it a blessing, especially the amazing fans who talk about how The Office gave them comfort, how it helped them during a difficult time," Baumgartner said. "I mean, countless stories, way more than I can mention. That's an amazing thing."

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The Office ran for nine seasons on NBC from 2005 to 2013. An American remake of British workplace mockumentary sitcom, the show followed the misadventures of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company employees in Scranton.

In addition to Baumgartner, the series starred Steve Carell, John KrasinskiRainn WilsonB.J. NovakAngela KinseyJenna Fischer, Mindy Kaling, Ed HelmsPhyllis Smith, Leslie David Baker, Oscar Nuñez, Craig Robinson and Ellie Kemper.