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Creed Bratton Got Involved With The Office Thanks To A Connection From The Bernie Mac Show

Singer, songwriter, and a possible murderer — Creed Bratton was a man made of as much talent as he was mystery. For nine seasons, the character stole scenes in the hit NBC sitcom "The Office," in which he was one of the many employees trapped in a cycle of work and casual abuse at Dunder Mifflin Scranton. The oldest member of the show's supporting ensemble cast, Creed is likely best remembered for his off-putting and often upsetting one-liners, many of which would imply a dark, even violent past. Remember when he just showed up to work covered in blood?

Indeed, Creed Bratton was a strange man — or, rather, the fictional Creed Bratton was. As you may be aware, "The Office's" Creed Bratton was played by, well, the real Creed Bratton (not to be confused with the "real" Creed Bratton, whom fictional "Creed Bratton" presumably killed). Like the fictionalized version of himself, Bratton is a musician and former member of the '60s-'70s rock band The Grass Roots.

How did Bratton manage to go from '70s rocker to sitcom icon? A combination of perseverance, being in the right place at the right time, and a bit of that crazy Creed Bratton ingenuity.

Bratton was surrounded by The Office talent on The Bernie Mac Show

During "The Office's" casting process — which saw actors like Seth Rogen, Bob Odenkirk, and Kristen Wiig reading for prominent roles — Creed Bratton was apparently not involved. As the actor said in a 2009 Vanity Fair profile, he was working on "The Bernie Mac Show" at the time (he made six appearances throughout the show's five-season run, most of which were uncredited). Though he was a "big fan" of the original British series, Bratton was unaware that a remake was being developed.

Ironically, the creator and executive producer of "The Bernie Mac Show" was Larry Wilmore, a core writer and consulting producer for "The Office" during its early days. Surprisingly, Wilmore had no hand in initially getting Bratton into Dunder Mifflin. Instead, his past in The Grass Roots helped him make a crucial connection with another of "The Office's" early architects — director Ken Kwapis.

Kwapis gave Bratton a chance

Though his name may not ring the same bell as other "The Office" creatives like Greg Daniels, Paul Feig, or B.J. Novak, Ken Kwapis is arguably one of the most influential figures in the show's history. The director (best known for "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" and "He's Just Not That Into You") directed the remake of "The Office" pilot as well as its first original episode — "Diversity Day." He went on to direct some of the most impactful "The Office" episodes, including "The Fire," "Casino Night," "The Job," "Company Picnic," and even the show's series finale. Having directed 13 episodes, he's even tied with Daniels for directorial credits and is only superseded by Feig and Randall Einhorn.

As luck would have it, Kwapis was a massive fan of The Grass Roots. While working on "The Bernie Mac Show," assistant director Joe Moore introduced Kwapis to Creed Bratton. "[W]e hit it off," Bratton told Vanity Fair. "He knows all about rock 'n' roll ..." Later, it came up that Kwapis was working on developing "The Office," which immediately lit a fire under Bratton. "I was a big fan of the Ricky Gervais show, the British show. So I called [Kwapis] and pleaded with him to at least consider me."

Unfortunately, Kwapis had to inform him that casting on the series had already been completed — having already found Steve Carell, John Krasinski, and Rainn Wilson, among others. Still, Kwapis seemingly liked Bratton enough to invite him to the set as an extra, which was just the opening the actor needed.

Bratton was one of the show's first extras

Though he would go on to become one of the show's most reliable scene stealers, Creed Bratton knew from his first day on the job that he would have to literally steal scenes if he wanted to become part of the show's cast. "I got there and realized I had to compete with all these people, and if I didn't do something drastic, nothing was going to happen," he recalled.

By Season 2, every employee of Dunder Mifflin had a name, a distinct personality, and an arc throughout the series. In the earlier days, however, the show used unnamed extras to keep the background of the office alive. Actors Mike McCaul and Louanne Kelley can be seen at several points throughout the pilot episode, alongside Devon White (Devon Abner) and original Meredith actor Henriette Mantel. On the "Office Ladies" podcast hosted by stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey, it's even stated that Ken Kwapis brought in two of the production's real-life accountants to do busy work.

With so much going on, it would have been easy for Bratton to get lost in the action. As such, he devised a plan with Joe Moore to get himself noticed by the show's creative team while carving out a wholly original character in the process.

Bratton had to write his character into existence

As he detailed to Vanity Fair, Creed Bratton spent the two weeks following his first day on set studying the tone and style of the American iteration of "The Office" while developing the fictional version of Creed Bratton. "I listened to the talking heads [the interview-style asides where characters relay information directly to the crew/audience] and read the scripts, and then I wrote my own bit," he said.

Bratton wrote his own comedic scenes, sketches, and talking heads in the voice of whom hundreds of fans worldwide would come to know as "Creed Bratton." In total, he said he had almost an hour's worth of material. With the assistance of Joe Moore, Bratton put all of these ideas on tape, cut the best parts down to a more-digestible five minutes, and prepared to bring "Creed Bratton" to the creative team — including Greg Daniels. Fortunately, his talent was undeniable.

"A couple of days later, they said, 'Well, you're funny,'" Bratton remembered. While they cut all of the series' extras by the end of the first season, they kept Bratton in the fold for Season 2 — at which time, the writers gave him a chance to prove that Creed Bratton was sitcom dynamite.

Halloween was Bratton's opportunity to shine

Describing it as his "shot," Season 2 brought Creed Bratton his first significant episode — Episode 5, "Halloween." As Bratton very briefly alludes to it in his Vanity Fair interview, the plot was seemingly explicitly crafted to showcase and test both Bratton's performance and the viability of the character he created.

The first of "The Office's" many Halloween specials, "Halloween" begins with the reveal that Michael Scott (Steve Carell) has to let go of one of the Scranton Branch employees before the end of the day — the same day as their annual Halloween Party. Ever desperate to be liked by his employees, Michael spends the episode in agony trying to figure out who can fire with the least possible blowback. Initially, he settles on Creed Bratton, leading to a hilarious scene in which Creed begs, manipulates, and ignores his way into keeping his job. The brief interaction perfectly encapsulates the erratic and bizarre sense of humor the writers and Bratton envisioned for the character.

Ultimately, the episode ends with Creed successfully convincing Michael to fire Devon White. Of course, Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) would later rectify this firing in the series finale by rehiring Devon after the documentary causes Creed to flee police custody. "Halloween" proved that Creed was comedy gold and solidified the character's place in the core ensemble of Dunder Mifflin for the remainder of "The Office's" long and lauded run.