Parks and Recreation and The Office are always compared, and it’s easy to see why. The sitcoms were shot in the same format, and both shows have incredible casts that were endlessly funny. While it’s hard to imagine anyone else taking on the beloved characters in both of the hit series, a lot of the Parks and Recreation cast auditioned for The Office first.
‘The Office’ vs. ‘Parks and Recreation’
The Office vs. Parks and Recreation debate goes all the way back to when both of the shows were still on the air. The comparisons make sense, given they’re both mockumentaries about co-workers. But let’s be honest, the sitcoms are more similar than they are different.
Greg Daniels and Michael Schur worked on both of the shows together. Daniels created the U.S. version of The Office, and Schur was a producer and writer, as well as an actor (he played Dwight’s cousin, Mose). The duo teamed up to create Parks and Recreation. And the series was originally intended to be an Office spinoff.
Because of that, a lot of actors who auditioned for The Office ended up landing roles on Parks and Recreation and vice versa.
Is Amy Poehler in ‘The Office’?
Parks and Recreation‘s leading lady was almost in The Office. Before Amy Poehler was Leslie Knope, she was almost cast as Jan Levinson, Michael Scott’s former girlfriend. The Office producers were close to casting the Saturday Night Live alum in the series but ultimately went with Melora Hardin.
One thing The Office and Parks and Recreation didn’t have in common was their audition processes. Parks and Recreation interviewed actors until they settled on the ideal group. And then, the characters were built around the actors.
Adam Scott told GQ that he initially bombed his Parks and Recreation interview.
“I actually auditioned for it before it was even on the air,” he said. “I really wanted it and didn’t get it; I actually kind of blew it, and so I was obviously pretty upset—I really wanted to be a part of it from the beginning.”
He also auditioned for The Office on the first day of casting. Scott was the first person to audition for Jim Halpert. He was seen right after Rainn Wilson, who was the first person to audition for The Office.
‘Parks and Recreation’ cast members who auditioned for ‘The Office’
A video of The Office auditions revealed the actors who went on to appear in Pawnee. In the video, Kathryn Hahn is seen auditioning for Pam. She went on to play political whiz Jen Barkley. Patton Oswalt auditioned for Dwight. He ended up playing Garth Blundon (never forget his incredible Star Wars filibuster scene.) Veep‘s Matt Walsh also auditioned for Dwight and later appeared in the disaster preparedness episode of Parks and Recreation.
Poehler and Scott weren’t the only Parks and Recreation main cast to audition for The Office. Ron Swanson himself was almost cast in the sitcom.
While Nick Offerman’s The Office audition isn’t in the video from Peacock, the comedian has talked about his experience trying out for the show. As he told The Guardian:
“I’d auditioned for the American version of The Office, specifically for Mike Schur who, unbeknownst to me, wrote my name on a Post-it and stuck it to his computer. A few years later, he remembered the Post-it and said: ‘I want this guy on my new show.’ NBC looked at me for one role and said: ‘This guy is going to have to kiss Rashida Jones at some point, and we don’t think Nick is visually in that category.’ Mike said: ‘OK, let’s cast him as Leslie Knope’s boss.’”
On the other side of this equation is Ellie Kemper. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star auditioned for Ann Perkins but didn’t get the role. But that rejection resulted in her getting cast as Erin in The Office. And then, of course, there’s Rashida Jones, who was cast in both. The range!
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