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The Office's Zach Woods Sort-Of Resonates With Gabe's Awkwardness

Whether it's for TV or film, actors have many different processes that they go through in order to connect with the character they are about to portray. One thing that is a known tactic is to bridge personalities between the actor and character in any way possible. Simply put, it's best for them to find qualities of the fictional person that they are about to play that resonate with them on a personal level. Zach Woods, who played Gabe Lewis on "The Office," locked into exactly what makes his character tick, and he discovered parts of himself within that analysis.

When Gabe appeared for the first time in Season 6 of "The Office," there wasn't much known about him quite yet. He clearly was the subordinate assistant to Jo Bennett (Kathy Bates), yet all that fans could really decipher about the character was that he had already (at his young age) resigned himself to inhumane working conditions and zero social life. As the character grew over four seasons, we saw that awkward, unexplainable personality jump from being Erin's (Ellie Kemper) boyfriend to a cringe-worthy manager.

By the end of Gabe's journey in "The Office," many fans still didn't truly figure out what made this character tick. However, Woods, who surely best understood Gabe, clearly put in the proper work needed to hone in on the personal similarities that he identified with the quirky fictional character. And at the top of the list was awkwardness, a not-too-farfetched connection between Gabe and himself.

The most awkward traits is where the comedy lives

For Zach Woods, embracing and understanding the extreme awkwardness of his character, Gabe Lewis, on NBC's "The Office" allowed the role to grow and thrive over the 51 episodes he appeared in. When speaking to Salon about discovering Gabe's inner motivation and viewpoint, Woods spoke about the importance of finding the comedy inside everyone's personal discomfort. "I guess I feel, like, probably equal parts amused by, irritated by, and fond of the ways in which people are [just] like a mess," he said.

If there was ever one character that could be summed up as being as much of a mess as he is strange, it's definitely Gabe. The character, who worked so hard that his only true physical release comes from his seven-times-a-year visits to Amsterdam, provided countless cringy moments that had fans at home pressing couch pillows over their faces in embarrassment. And to Woods' credit, he embraced that quality. "I like having a job that allows me to pay close attention to the strange ways in which people cope with their own ... terror and hope and all that stuff," he explained. "It makes me laugh."

Another way Woods deals with his character's faults is to zero in on his own. This applies both to Gabe and any other character that might not fit the societal norm. He told GQ, "How do you deal with the parts of yourself that are so far from who you wish you were? I think there's something really interesting about that." 

Well, to take on a role like Gabe, you really do have to embrace faults, since the character was full of them. And for Woods, when it comes to sharing those awkward results, he sure seems like a fish in water.