With the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin scheduled to close this May, the cast and crew of "The Office" hosted one final bring-the-press-to-work day last week.
Reporters trolled the halls of the Pennsylvania -- er, Van Nuys, California -- paper company, snapping photos at reception, reading about recycling on the lunchroom fridge, and reminiscing about all the awkward meetings gone wrong in the conference room where they took place. Kate Flannery, in her Meredith wig and costume, passed out cold ones (Stegmaier IPAs from a Wilkes-Barre brewery) from her raggedy minivan as visitors were ushered into the building that holds both the warehouse and Jim Halpert's new "Zuckerberged" Philadelphia workplace for LaVerne's Pies, Utz chips, and a live performance by Kevin and the Zits (Brian Baumgartner, Ed Helms, and Craig Robinson).
Before the official Q&A got under way, Yahoo! TV pulled Rainn Wilson aside to discuss the end of the show that made him and Dwight Schrute household names.
Is it just us, or are you guys upping the ante on crazy in Season 9?
No, basically we are doing every crazy idea we ever had. I think knowing that it is the final season has given the writers so much freedom, and I'm having a blast. We can do really weird stuff and stuff that would have ended the show before or stuff that you couldn't really come back from and do a bunch more episodes. Like playing Belsnickel in the Christmas episode or riding a motorcycle with John. They are still finding new and weirder stuff for me to do, and that's just crazy because we are almost at 200 episodes. It is a testament to the show and the writers that the episodes have been so strong in the last season.
Dwight certainly has earned his place in the memorable-TV-character hall of fame. Now that the Schrute Farms spinoff has been shelved, are you sad to be putting the character to bed or happy to move on to new opportunities?
He's definitely unforgettable, and I have been so lucky to have had this experience. It was the role of a lifetime, and I'll be lucky if I ever get to play another character half as quirky and interesting and complicated as Dwight, so yes, I am sad, but it feels like a really natural, good, and perfect time for the show to end. I don't think there is anyone in the cast, crew, or writing staff that wants to try and do a Season 10. It feels right to be hanging up Dwight's haircut and glasses. And calculator watch. And beeper.
What will you miss about working on "The Office"?
The ensemble and this family of people I work with. I'm going to miss coming to work here and seeing everyone in the bullpen in their desks. We have become a family. We've been married, divorced, had kids, suffered losses, had successes, made movies, even had a few fights just like a real family. We grew up together and learned this business together. And it seems so long ago that we were making the pilot and hoping to get at least a season. And now we've had nine. So that part is truly bittersweet.
Anything you are happy to kiss goodbye?
One thing I will not miss is Dwight's hair straightening, hairstyling, and the terrible middle part. And I have no one to blame but myself. That was my contribution to Season 1. I was going to design the worst possible haircut for Dwight. I think I succeeded and then realized that my hair was going to have to stay the same as long as the show was on. So here I am nine years later still wearing that hairstyle and still trying to figure out how to make it not Dwight-ish on my days off.
Give us a tease on Dwight's final days. Will fans get closure?
Greg pulled me into his office with all the writers, and we looked at the big board and discussed what was going to happen with Dwight and what we had planned in the episodes. We had long, serious debates about where we wanted to see Dwight ending up at the end of this. I'm excited with what we came up with. It's going to be great, but you will have to watch to find out what we decided to do. It would be far more interesting to the fans and far more interesting television for everyone to watch the last episodes and see what happens than for me to say right now that Dwight is going to end up in the navy.
Writer's note: Creator Greg Daniels warned that they aren't "planning on packing everything into the last episode. If you are waiting for the end of 'The Office' to retune in, don't. I would start right away." He teased that the pilot director Ken Kwapis is helming the hour-long finale, the cameras will turn back on the documentary crew itself, someone will be fired from Dunder Mifflin after some drama goes down, and not all farewells will be saved for the finale. While there are currently no plans for Steve Carell to return as Michael Scott, "because Steve is very much of the opinion that the 'Goodbye, Michael' episode and the arc leading up to it was his goodbye to the fans and this season is the goodbye that the rest of the show gets to have," Daniels promised that other show veterans, like Mindy Kaling, B.J. Novak, and Zach Woods, will make an appearance or two before the NBC show closes up shop.
Watch a preview clip from tonight's episode:
"The Office" airs Thursdays at 9 PM on NBC.