'The Office' Chili Scene Was A Behind The Scenes And Onscreen Disaster
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It was a “Casual Friday” to remember. On April 30, 2009, The Office aired one of its most iconic episodes, featuring everyone's favorite accountant, Kevin Malone, managing to dump an entire pot of his famous chili onto the carpet of the Dunder Mifflin office. Ranking among the series' most classic moments, akin to "Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica,” the broccoli fiasco, and even the underrated gem of Michael Scott's relationship with his soul mate, Holly Flax (yeah, I said it. fight me), it seems the moment may have been even more chaotic behind-the-scenes than it was on screen, a revelation actor Brian Baumgartner revealed in a new interview with Bon Appetit published earlier this week.
“I was told ‘We have three pieces of carpet. That’s it, man. So don’t screw this up,’” the star recalled of the scene, which he managed to get in a single take. And as for the clean-up? While the set was seemingly the crew's number one priority, Baumgartner says he took a backseat, adding with a laugh that not as much attention was paid "to the cleaning up of me."
“It wasn't like, ‘Oh, just put on another suit.’ No, it was bad," he explained, noting that he smelled of garlic and tomatoes for quite some time after the director called “cut.”
Even with this nightmarish, very, erm, odorous production, the joke is widely considered one of The Office's most iconic cold opens. However, the star hinted that he sometimes seemingly feels conflicted when fans explain just how funny they find the scene.
“People come up to me and they just focus on the comedy… I think they’re psychopaths," he told the cooking publication. “Because you have to feel bad for the guy, right? So making this the thing that Kevin is most proud of, and then having it fail, makes it funny, But there is also a tremendous amount of heart behind it.”
Although finding the gag solely comical may be the mark of a Patrick-Bateman-level psychopath, it seems the demise of Kevin's chili was somehow almost a hell of a lot worse. Back in the glorious whipped-coffee and DIY sourdough-filled days of March 2020, Andy Greene, author of The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History shared an original draft of the scene penned by writer Aaron Shure on Twitter. This version paints a much bleaker picture of Malone attempting to navigate his unfortunate spill, turning to a clipboard, a mug, and even his own two hands to put the chili back in the pot before ultimately giving up, grabbing papers from a nearby trash bin to sop up the mess.
Because that simply wasn't enough humiliation, his co-workers enter in the midst of this fiasco with some, erm, choice comments.
“What's that smell?” Andy Bernard asks upon stepping into Dunder Mifflin's Scranton, Pennsylvania headquarters.
“It was here when I came in,” adds Erin Hannon before Jim Halpert, who notoriously does not cheat on his wife, chimes in to aptly mention the scent resembles “Kevin's famous chili.”
Suddenly, we hear a crash. At the same moment, Kevin, who is now in the kitchen, manages to slip, falling flat on his back while accidentally pouring the once-salvaged chili all over himself.
It seems that Kevin, much like Michael Scott, knew exactly what to do. But in a much more real sense, had no idea what to do … except like, with his spilled chili.
Top Image: NBC