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The Real Reason John Krasinski Wore A Wig On The Office

Creative hair and makeup work on film and in television is nothing new, but you might not expect it from a humble sitcom. Sure, a show like Game of Thrones creates a wig for each character, but for a show like The Office, it comes as something of a surprise to learn that they had to work some on-screen magic from time to time, as well.

Set in the humble town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, The Office presented itself as a documentary about regular office workers at a paper supply company called Dunder Mifflin. As a result, the actors on set were pretty unglamorous during filming. Makeup was minimal, characters stuck to button-down shirts and cardigans instead of designer clothing, and, overall, employees like Michael Scott (Steve Carell), Jim Halpert (John Krasinski), Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson), and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) looked like normal people. Apparently, however, they sometimes needed a little extra help, especially in the hair department. 

If you had no idea that, during one particular stretch of The Office's nine-season run, John Krasinski donned a wig, you're probably not alone, but Andy Greene's new book The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History, is spilling plenty of secrets, from drama on set to hair and makeup tricks you definitely didn't notice. Here's the real reason that John Krasinski wore a wig during The Office's third season.

John Krasinski's movie career almost interfered with The Office

During The Office's third season, Krasinski got his first big film offer alongside George Clooney in the 2008 film Leatherheads. There was only one thing standing in his way.

Office makeup artist Kim Ferry remembers, "It would have meant cutting his hair into a 1920s hairstyle. But continuity-wise and contractually-wise, actors are obligated to keep their hair how it is for a series unless they get producer approval, of course. [...] He came to me and said, 'Could we do a wig?' He went to talk to them and said, 'I really want to do this project.' And they were like, 'I think it would be obvious that it was a wig.' Greg [Daniels, the showrunner] really felt it won't look like him."

According to Ferry, Krasinski came up with a solution. "Hiring a wig maker is not inexpensive," she says. "We did the fitting in his trailer and when it was done it looked amazing. It looked exactly like him." They still, however, had to convince Daniels.

Ferry said that she tracked down Krasinski and found him in Daniels' office, recalling that she saw the wig, "sitting on Greg's desk. John told me later that Greg said to him, 'John, I'll know if it's a wig. You can't fake that kind of thing.' As he's staring at him with the wig on. And then John's like, 'Really? I don't think you would,' and he takes it off right in front of him. And then Greg said, 'You win, I give you full permission to wear the wig.' When I came in, [Greg] said to me, 'You guys have a lot of b***s.' For a minute I really thought I was going to get fired."

The Office had to deal with a lot of film shoots

Krasinski might have come up with the most creative solution when it came to shooting a film, but he wasn't the only star who had to figure out a work-around. As The Office got more popular, so did its stars. Carell, who already had a successful film career thanks to 2005's The 40-Year-Old Virgin (which helped put The Office on the map) was still doing feature films like 2007's Evan Almighty.

Costume designer Carey Bennett says, "I remember Steve being so exhausted when he was making that movie about Noah [referring to Evan Almighty]. I look back at those episodes [near the end of season two] and he looks so tired to me. They once made him go through a four-hour costume fitting before he came into work. He actually slipped down the stairs of his trailer one time and tore his suit just out of sheer exhaustion. He was working at such a fever pitch and it just broke my heart, really, that he had to endure that moment."

Pretty soon, Carell and Krasinski weren't the only stars trying to juggle The Office and a film career. After Ed Helms flew back and forth to do The Hangover and its sequels, everybody wanted the same treatment. As producer Randy Cordray recalls, "When other actors wanted to do projects, they would go, Hey, you made it work for Ed Helms. You need to make it work for me.' And that was a valid argument. I couldn't very well shoot that down."

If you want to track Helms' absences, Carell's exhaustion, and Krasinski's wig, you can rewatch The Office on Netflix before it moves to Peacock, NBCUniversal's upcoming streaming service.