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Paul Feig Shares His Favorite Episode Of The Office - Exclusive

Paul Feig is currently making headlines for his 2015 sci-fi comedy Other Space, and its debut on the streaming platform DUST. But before he began writing the far-flung adventures of Captain Lipinski and the UMP Cruiser, Feig was directing and producing The Office — a series that's still near and dear to his heart (and the heart of pretty much anyone with a Netflix account).

Feig spoke to Looper in an exclusive interview to dish on his favorite episode of the iconic show and reminisce about some on-set memories with the immensely talented cast and crew. When asked if he had a favorite episode of The Office, Feig could barely choose. 

"Oh, gosh. I mean, there's so many. Gosh, I mean, the very first episode I did [was] 'Office Olympics,'" Feig recalled. "I remember we were doing the scene where Michael Scott [Steve Carell] decides he's going to buy this condo, and he has to sign the papers — and he just has this meltdown where he starts to lose [his] breath, and then he grabs onto the stove for support."

He continued, "The burner comes off, and then he's out [...] You think that's a problem that he's out on the back patio just huffing and puffing. And I remember I was laughing so hard I was crying because [during] every take, Steve Carell would just do some new thing that was so hilarious, but so relatable." Michael Scott's antics are as unpredictable to his fictional coworkers as they are to the cast and crew — part of why many fans agree the series just wasn't the same after Carell's departure.

"Just somebody was having a total freak out about something, and I love that," Feig noted. "Also, just shooting the entire dinner party episode was so much fun because it was such a weird little passion play that took place in this small area."

Jim and Pam's wedding was almost ruined

As classic as "Office Olympics and "Dinner Party" might be, Feig could hardly stop there. The wedding of Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) marked another one of the most iconic and beloved episodes of the series. After years of a will they/won't dance, the pair finally set their feelings straight and got the timing right to become the powerhouse couple fans know and love. Feig concurs, saying, "I also loved shooting Pam and Jim's wedding. I mean, shooting that dance number where they come down and recreate that video. Yeah. Then also getting to [shoot] on the Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls with them getting married, which was so romantic and beautiful." 

The episode almost had a much weirder (and tragic) ending involving a horse, spurred on by a half-baked Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) scheme. Thankfully, everyone talked writer and producer Greg Daniels out of the bizarre plot during the table read, preserving the sanctity of the episode. 

Feig agrees that The Office is the perfect quarantine show for these unprecedented times. "It's sort of the ultimate comfort food show, really," he said. "It's so relaxing and fun and reassuring." Feig summed up his experience on the show, saying, "I have so many great memories from that show and that cast and working with that whole team of both writers and actors."

Letting the cast make it personal

When asked what it's been like working with such a large pool of comedians over the years, Feig couldn't help but count his blessings. "Obviously, I've been lucky enough to get to assemble great casts [for shows] like Freaks and Geeks and Other Space and on my movies," he said. "But then I've also been very, very lucky to get to come into projects that are up and running with amazing casts, like The Office [and] Arrested Development."

A director's job is made much easier when the cast has a firm grip on who their characters are. Assembling the perfect ensemble is most of the battle, according to Feig, and then you can let them do their thing. "90 percent of the job is finding the right people because then you just get out of their way."

He continued, "You set these things in motion as a director, and you sit at the monitor, and you watch it happening, and you're experiencing it like an audience [member]. The lucky thing about being a director is [that] I get to then go in and interact and make things happen that as an audience at home sometimes you're like, 'Oh, I wish they would do this.'" Feig said on his experience in the director's chair, "I get to go, 'Cool, try this.' So it's the most interactive way to be an audience member, but that's how I direct."

Feig keeps an open mind

"I direct as if I'm an audience member, 'cause I'm just enjoying the show, I'm enjoying what's happening," Feig said of his process. "And then I get the ability to hopefully make it even a little bit better or to add things that somebody else might not have thought of. Or [I] get to encourage these performers to try something that isn't necessarily in the script, to use what they're feeling, and use their creativity and invention to make it even better."

The director credited much of the success of his most popular series to the showrunners keeping an open mind, letting the cast ad-lib, and offering up suggestions. "That can only happen when you have great people running the shows who have the confidence to let that happen and who aren't saying, 'No, they can't improvise, they can't make additions to the script,'" Feig explained.

"All the best shows I've been on have wanted the performers to do add-in. And the more frustrating shows I've been on have been the ones where they wouldn't let them change a word," he clarified. "So, when you assemble a team of amazing, creative people, the last thing you want to do is then sit on them and not let them have their influence."

Every season of The Office is currently streaming on Netflix (until it moves to Peacock in 2021). The entire first season of Other Space is available to stream on DUST right now.