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9 Actors Who Auditioned for The Office

Natalie Zamora
Actress Kathryn Hahn auditioned for the role of Pam on The Office.
Actress Kathryn Hahn auditioned for the role of Pam on The Office. / Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
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When the original pilot cast for The Office was first presented to NBC executives, one key part of the show was missing: Steve Carell. Not missing, though, was his character of Michael Scott—in this proposed version of the series, the head honcho at Dunder Mifflin's Scranton branch was going to be played by Bob Odenkirk of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul fame.

Carell would replace Odenkirk soon after, and fans never got to see how the future Saul Goodman would have interpreted the character (though he does have a cameo in a very Michael-esque role in the episode "Moving On" from season nine). That's not the only example of how different the show's cast could have been if a few decisions had gone the other way. Here are nine actors who originally auditioned for The Office.

1. Adam Scott

Office star Craig Robinson wound up acting alongside Adam Scott in the short-lived sitcom Ghosted (2017).
Office star Craig Robinson wound up acting alongside Adam Scott in the short-lived sitcom Ghosted (2017). / Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Fans of The Office know Adam Scott for his role as Ben Wyatt in Parks and Recreation. He's also appeared in the comedy Step Brothers, along with fan-favorite TV shows The Good Place and Big Little Lies. In 2013, Rainn Wilson (who played Dwight Schrute) posted an audition call log for the workplace comedy, which revealed that Scott had tried out for the part of Jim Halpert. You can even watch part of his audition here.

2. Seth Rogen

As seen in footage of The Office auditions, actor Seth Rogen tried out for Dwight Schrute during the early days of production. Rogen is most famous for co-writing and acting in Superbad (2007), Pineapple Express (2008), This is the End (2013), and a handful of other hilarious movies. He even acted alongside Steve Carell in Judd Apatow's The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), which catapulted Carell to fame.

3. Kathryn Hahn

Kathryn Hahn—most famous for her roles in Step Brothers, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and Parks and Recreation—originally auditioned for the part of Pam. Though she didn't get it, her talent has since been recognized with Emmys for her roles in Transparent and WandaVision.

4. Patton Oswalt

Comedian Patton Oswalt, who was still playing Spence Olchin in The King of Queens at the time, also auditioned for the part of Dwight. He obviously didn't get the job, but he did appear on Office producer Michael Schur's other NBC comedy, Parks and Recreation, in a memorable scene from 2013 where he lays out his vision for the yet-to-be-made Star Wars: Episode VII.

5. John Cho

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle alum John Cho was another hopeful Jim Halpert during the audition process. In 2017, he spoke to Entertainment Weekly about his experience, saying, "It was, like, me and Seth Rogen and I can’t remember who else. But yeah, I didn’t know what it was, and I auditioned to be Jim." He also joked, "Boy, did they make an error with that Krasinski fellow."

6. Mary Lynn Rajskub

Mary Lynn Rajskub performing stand-up comedy in 2021.
Mary Lynn Rajskub performing stand-up comedy in 2021. / JC Olivera/Getty Images

Most people will recognize Mary Lynn Rajskub for her role as Chloe O'Brian on 24, as well as appearances on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Californication, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and more. E! News reported that the Michigan native almost played Pam on The Office, but did not disclose any information on her audition process.

7. Judah Friedlander

Another actor after the role of Dwight was Judah Friedlander. He is best known for playing Frank Rossitano in the long-running series 30 Rock, and can be seen making appearances in the comedies Zoolander (2001), Meet the Parents (2000), and Wet Hot American Summer (2000). He also scored a minor role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) as a bar patron.

8. Angela Kinsey

That's right—the actress behind Angela Martin originally auditioned for the role of Pam. While talking on the Office Ladies podcast, which she created alongside co-star Jenna Fischer, Kinsey said of the audition process, "I wore a pink sweater. My hair down. I was told to look not-too-fancy, so I didn’t too much with my hair and makeup." She continued to tell her former co-star, "When we got to the point when Michael fake-fires you, you start to cry and you call him a jerk. When I called him a jerk, everyone started to laugh. I thought, ‘I did something wrong. I don’t think they’re supposed to laugh at that moment.'"

9. Hamish Linklater

Hamish Linklater was another actor who auditioned for Jim.
Hamish Linklater was another actor who auditioned for Jim. / Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images for ABA

Wilson's post also showed that Hamish Linklater was another celeb who auditioned for the role of Jim. Although the actor is a bit less famous than Scott, you might recognize him for his roles in movies like The Big Short and Fantastic Four. He's also appeared in the popular TV series Legion, Fargo, and Newsroom.

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