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The Office's Zach Woods Impressed His Costars With His Unmatched Improv

For most actors, joining the cast of an established TV series can be a nerve-wracking experience. Their new co-stars likely already boast a tight-knit, familial dynamic, which they must attempt to find a spot within.

Sometimes, this doesn't go too well. For example, the stars of "Seinfeld" were perfectly okay with Larry David killing off Heidi Swedberg's character Susan Ross because they found her difficult to work with. At the other end of the spectrum, the core cast of "The Big Bang Theory" all took pay cuts so that Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch could enjoy salary increases.

But what about Zach Woods, who joins "The Office" in season 6 as the tall, awkward, and horror-loving Gabe Lewis? By the time he arrives, so much has already happened, from Michael Scott (Steve Carell) hitting Meredith Palmer (Kate Flannery) with his car to the love triangle of Angela Martin (Angela Kinsey), Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) and Andy Bernard (Ed Helms). There are also countless pranks pulled on Dwight by Jim Halpert (John Krasinski), with the actor telling NPR that he and Wilson formed a brother-like bond while filming.

Gabe may only be seen as a creepy skeleton man by his counterparts, but off-camera, Woods fit right in with his colleagues after wowing them with his unprecedented improv skills.

Zach Woods' improv background made him a joy to work with on The Office

Prior to "The Office," Zach Woods appeared in a slew of shows, shorts, and films, including 2009's "In the Loop" starring "The Sopranos" legend James Gandolfini. Woods was no stranger to the screen, which allowed him to be his true, funny self on the set of a major NBC sitcom.

In an interview for Andy Greene's "The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History," show writer Justin Spitzer said of Woods, "He used to go on these riffs that were just shockingly funny. It couldn't have been easy for him to come six years into a show ...  And he wasn't a selfish actor at all. He would just find ways to give people things, improv gifts and things like that." According to first assistant director Rusty Mahmood, Woods often challenged Steve Carell to push his own comedic boundaries: "Steve even said, 'That guy keeps me on my toes.' What a great compliment."

If Woods' younger self was told that, someday, his improv talents would be so highly regarded, he wouldn't have believed it. In an interview with The Off Camera Show, he revealed that, despite starting improv at an early age, he didn't feel confident about his abilities for about a decade. There was much self-loathing and feeling like the weak link, but he pushed through the doubt. Woods said, "I just was addicted to the rare instances when it went well and it was worth it to suffer in the interim ... Once you get that first big laugh or whatever, then I feel like your body relaxes and you can sort of ride the wave a little more."