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Melora Hardin Reveals What It Was Really Like Working With Steve Carell On The Office

While the classic sitcom "The Office" thrived on the absurd inter-office dynamics between regional manager Michael Scott, played by the talented comic Steve Carell, and his weird and endearing employees, it also needed another element to keep the series interesting. That conflict came in the form of Dunder Mifflin higher-ups coming in either to question Michael's status quo or threaten the branch with closure.

At first, this job was given to Melora Hardin, who plays Michael's supervisor, Jan Levinson. Starting from the pilot episode, she pops into the office every now and then to act as the characters' corporate overlord — a serious, cold, and detached boss in contrast with Michael's casual, overly personal, but full-of-heart personality. Despite their differences, the two come together to form an awkward, often uncomfortable relationship that is as humorous as it is cringey.

Over Hardin's 42 episodes on "The Office," most of her scenes are with Carell, as Jan rarely interacts with the rest of the employees. Recently, on the podcast "The Office Deep Dive with Brian Baumgartner," Hardin talked about her experience working with Carell.

Steve Carell made for a fun scene partner

In conversation with Brian Baumgartner, who played Kevin Malone, Melora Hardin had nothing but good things to say about Steve Carell: "Immediately, I loved working with Steve." Unlike the other cast members, Hardin didn't get too many scenes with the ensemble, especially at the beginning, so most of her work was done with just Carell. Luckily, they worked well together.

"I was so relieved and so grateful and excited that whenever the cameras would roll, I felt like Steve was very playful with me on camera as far as just his ability to give and take," she said. Whenever she decided to try a scene a little differently, he was able to roll with her adjustments, which she appreciated.

Hardin added that series creator Greg Daniels was often questioning, and being mindful of, why Jan would be with someone like Michael. To her, it was an easy answer: Jan had to mask her femininity to get far in her career, but Michael made her feel like a woman again. While Michael and Jan did not end up working well together, Carell and Hardin did not have that problem.