Did I stutter: ‘The Office’ actors visit Foellinger Auditorium

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James Hoeck

Leslie David Baker holds a pretzel given by a fan during “The Office” Q&A event on Monday. Baker shared his past career choices before becoming an actor and starring in the hit TV show “The Office.”

By Ashleigh Kendrick, Staff Writer

On Monday night, students and fans alike gathered at Foellinger Auditorium to see two of Michael Scott’s employees from “The Office”: Stanley Hudson and Meredith Palmer. 

Stanley Hudson, played by Leslie David Baker, was the grumpy, pretzel and crossword puzzle-loving salesman. Meredith Palmer, played by Kate Flannery, was the alcoholic, solitaire playing, promiscuous office representative. 

During the hour-long panel discussion, Baker and Flannery were asked questions about acting, life, their favorite episodes and stunts and scenes. 

Baker also shared with the audience that his dream career was not acting, but the medical field. 

“I originally was bio pre-med, went to med school, got there and hated it,” Baker said. “I was in the anatomy lab one night and was like, ‘I’m not enjoying this.’” 

Although Baker knew he did not want to pursue a medical degree anymore, he would go on to become a substitute teacher and work for a health department before he pursued his acting career. 

Flannery, on the other hand, always knew her future was in acting. 

“I always knew I wanted to be an actor,” Flannery said. “I was one of seven kids, and I think I was sort of desperate to have any attention whatsoever.” 

Fans of the show also brought Baker and Flannery items that correlated with their characters. 

Anushya Iyer and Rhean Patel, juniors in Engineering, brought a crossword puzzle book to the event in reference to Baker’s character who loved crossword puzzles. 

During the open question panel, Iyer and Patel were able to not only ask Baker a puzzle from the book, but they also received the actor’s signatures. 

“It felt so exciting,” Iyer said. “It is the most exciting experience I’ve ever had.” 

Baker explained that his character’s love of crossword puzzles was an idea he came up with one day before shooting a scene that took place in an office meeting. Baker explained that the director told them to bring a prop that their character would have to the meeting scene, and Baker brought a crossword puzzle. 

“I found an old crossword puzzle in the drawer one day and they said ‘come in, we’re doing a meeting,’” Baker said. “I pulled the puzzle out and sat down for the meeting.”

In addition to answering questions about their lives and the show, Baker and Flannery also left the audience with pieces of advice. Baker advised students to hold on to what they learn in school because they never know when they might use it. 

“Take a little bit of everything because everything that you ever learn in school, you will find a use for it,” Baker said. 

Baker also explained to the audience that changing as an individual is beneficial and necessary in life in order to do better. 

“You’re here to change, you’re not here to do the same as you were in high school or elementary school,” Baker said. “This is where you’re learning information and when you learn more and you do more, you do even more.” 

Flannery also backed up Baker’s words, encouraging the audience to take charge of their lives.

“This is your life and it’s your time,” Flannery said. 

During the filming of “The Office,” there was not a live audience present, so the actors did not get to interact with the fans as the show was created. Despite the lack of a live studio audience, people were still able to connect with the show and the characters which Flannery and Baker appreciated. 

“It’s really the fans, because you guys are so connected with the show, and it’s a rare thing for a TV show — even when it’s a hit,” Flannery said. 

Baker emphasized how the cast watched the fandom grow over the COVID-19 pandemic as people began to rediscover the show. Patel was one fan gained during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I started watching during the pandemic,” Patel said. “There were lots and lots of TV shows and well, ‘The Office’ I watched twice.”

Baker also explained how beautiful it is to be a part of a show that can be watched with people of all ages and expressed his appreciation and excitement to finally meet their fans. 

“It’s been good to be able to go out and meet all of you,” Baker said.

 

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