Bryan Cranston was ‘an accessory to almost murdering’ ‘The Office’ cast, according to ‘Office BFFs’

Bryan Cranston was involved in nearly killing the entire cast of “The Office” while directing a 2012 episode of the hit NBC sitcom, according to stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey.

That’s one of many behind-the-scenes tidbits Fischer and Kinsey (who played Pam Beesly and Angela Martin) divulged in their new book “The Office BFFs: Tales of ‘The Office’ from Two Best Friends Who Were There” (Dey Street, 336 pp., out now). Inspired by their “Office” re-watch podcast “Office Ladies,” the book combines some stories listeners of the podcast will recognize with new details about the making of the show and the actresses’ memories of becoming best friends while working together.

But back to the almost-murder.

5 things we learned from ‘The Office’ oral history: The making of Michael; Jim and Pam’s near breakup

Cranston, who at the time was starring as Walter White in “Breaking Bad,” directed a 2012 episode of “The Office” titled “Work Bus.” The premise: After Jim (John Krasinski) convinces Dwight (Rainn Wilson) that their building is unsafe in an attempt to get time off work, Dwight instead rents a bus that allows everyone to keep doing their jobs in close quarters. What ensues is chaotic – but not as chaotic as what went down behind the scenes.

“We want you to know that we see the irony that Bryan Cranston, aka Walter White Sr. or ‘Heisenberg’ as he was known in crystal methamphetamine circles, was an accessory to almost murdering the entire cast of ‘The Office,’ ” Fischer writes. “I assure you this is pure coincidence.”

Filming with 14 actors and four crew members packed in a moving bus presented challenges – the actors write that “heat and nausea seemed like the worst obstacles at first.” And during a particularly funny scene, Ellie Kemper (Erin Hannon) laughed so hard she peed.

“We were all joking this would go down as ‘the episode where Ellie peed her pants,'” Fischer writes. “Little did we know that would not be the most memorable part of the day. Not by a long shot.”

For starters, there was a scene in which Dwight drove the bus and was supposed to suddenly swerve, causing everyone in the bus to flail to one side of the bus. They brought in a stunt driver to make it look more realistic, but the actors didn’t get their own stunt doubles.

“What no one had considered when they told this stunt driver to swerve as hard as he could without flipping the bus over was that none of our office furniture, props, or set decorations were securely tied down,” Kinsey writes. “Everything and everyone went flying.”

Several actors were pinned to the side of the bus; others were trapped under tables and props. Phyllis Smith (Phyllis Vance) needed to ice her ankle her. It was time for a break, during which the crew installed a portable air conditioning unit to cool everyone off.

Things only got worse when filming resumed: Fischer suddenly smelled gas. A camera operator stumbled and said she didn’t feel well.

“Guess what?” Fischer writes. “The portable air-conditioning unit’s INTAKE hose was right next to the EXHAUST pipe on the bus. So that hose was sucking in exhaust and blowing it straight into the sunroof of the bus. We were all being slowly poisoned. Or not so slowly, actually.”

Morale was low. Fischer recalled vowing to never get on the bus again, as did Leslie David Baker (Stanley Hudson). The camera operator had a “terrible headache for hours” due to the gas. The only logical next step was to film the scene where the characters sat outside and ate pie.

“Pie mends all things, including near carbon monoxide poisoning,” Kinsey writes.

Still, more had to be filmed on the bus later that day. Cranston was able to convince Fischer to get back on, promising no more accidents. “We got the scene,” Fischer writes. “It was as simple and short as Bryan had promised it would be.”

Mostly. “As we pulled into the parking lot, John was again at the front of the bus, chanting as we clapped and smiled. The day was done. We’d filmed the episode. We’d survived. Then the bus went over a bump, we all stumbled, and John hit his head on the camera next to him. Of course.”

No hard feelings were harbored against Cranston – Kinsey recalled giving him a “big hug” as the crew worked to fix the bus, and she and Kinsey finished the chapter with a shoutout to their one-time director.

“We love you, Bryan Cranston,” Fischer and Kinsey concluded. “Thanks for getting us through such an insane day!”

More: ‘The Office’ turns 15: All the ways NBC’s quirky sitcom changed pop culture

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: ‘Office BFFs’: Office Ladies Jenna Fischer, Angela Kinsey release book

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.