“The Office” star Brian Baumgartner featured at ISU AfterDark


Courtesy of Iowa State Student Union Board

Brian Baumgartner and Student Union Board President Brooklin Border at the Q&A session at Iowa State AfterDark event in the Memorial Union. 

Eleanor Chalstrom

Brian Baumgartner, best known for his portrayal of Kevin Malone in NBC’s “The Office,” appeared at Iowa State AfterDark’s first event of the semester. 

Baumgartner was the featured performance at AfterDark on Friday night in the Memorial Union. He spoke with Student Union Board President Brooklin Border in a live Q&A session that Iowa State Students could attend for free. 

Baumgartner first spoke of how he got into acting after a series of health complications he experienced in high school. His original dream job was playing major league baseball for the Atlanta Braves, but he instead went to Southern Methodist University to study theater. 

Baumgartner told the story of how he got cast on the show after seeing the original British version and connecting with one of the characters. He recounted how he got the role, despite being a pretty unknown actor. 

“The idea was unknown people, and I called my agent and I was like, ‘This is the show,’” said Baumgartner. “I was working with a manager and my manager called Allison Jones, the casting director…and called her and called her and harassed her and harassed her.” 

Baumgartner also revealed his and his castmates’ experiences being actors in a new and somewhat struggling show in the first couple of seasons. 

“I mean you have to understand that, and I think this is part of why the show endures because I think you feel this. As I said before, nobody was famous when it started. Nobody was pulling star stuff. We were all just so excited. And more than that, honestly from the beginning, we all just really loved the show. I call myself a fan of the show.” 

This led Baumgartner into sharing his favorite off-screen memory with his castmates. 

“In the middle of the second season, we were struggling, struggling, struggling. We were almost canceled after six episodes…And Steve Carrell gets nominated for a Golden Globe. This takes place at a very fancy hotel: the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills,” said Baumgartner. 

He explained how he lived close to the hotel, and since he and some of his castmates were invited to an official watch party, they had a bit of fun before attending the event. 

“And so we, Oscar, Angela, Jenna, and I think David Denman…they all decided to come to my house and pre-game!” said Baumgartner. “David Denman had a 1998 Honda Civic and he’s like, ‘I’ll drive us!’ And so the cast of ‘The Office,’ gets in a Honda Civic and drives down the hill to the Golden Globes.” 

Baumgartner explained that the cast was drunk and celebrating their first award show appearance when they announced that Steve Carell won the Golden Globe award for Best Actor in Musical or Comedy TV Series. 

“We tackled each other. It was like we had won the Super Bowl. We were just screaming and yelling,” said Baumgartner. “I thought about it recently. In the show’s finale, there’s a line, I think ‘Andy Bernard’ says, ‘I wish, somehow, you knew were in the good ol’ days while they’re happening.’ That’s how I feel now about that [moment].” 

Baumgartner revealed other stories about his time on the “The Office” and his experiences writing his book and producing his podcast. 

He also shared that he stole a couple of things from the sitcom’s set including Kevin’s nameplate, a giant pencil and the infamous jar of M&M’s. 

Iowa State AfterDark will host events again Feb. 25 and April in the Memorial Union. To learn more about AfterDark and the Student Union Board visit their website