It’s been nearly 15 years since the “Casino Night” episode of The Office aired, but fans can’t seem to get enough behind-the-scenes info on Jim and Pam’s big kiss scene.
On the latest episode of the , former co-stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey spoke with director Ken Kwapis about his time on the show and what it was like to direct the fan-favorite Season 2 finale.
Kwapis, who also directed the pilot and series finale of The Office — along with episodes like “Diversity Day,” “Sexual Harassment,” and “Booze Cruise” — shared some of his on-set directing secrets and recalled why he kept Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski apart before they filmed their kiss.
Back in May, Fischer and Kinsey welcomed John Krasinski onto the podcast to chat about “Casino Night,” and he explained how nervous he felt on set because he couldn’t find anyone (including Fischer) to chat with on set before the kiss. Turns out, Krasinski and Fischer were intentionally kept apart for an hour before the kiss scene was shot to build up tension.
“We shot the kiss the night before we shot the parking lot scene,” Kwapis recalled. “And the reason is just a practical one — that it was the end of the week and we saved our night exterior work for Friday night. So I felt like it was hard, because how do you go into the kiss without having experienced that parking lot scene? How do you prepare for it? And so it seemed to me that maybe having some distance between the two of you might help create, I don’t know, just this feeling that you’re kind of off balance.”
“Obviously we had read the scene. We had a table read. But we didn’t rehearse the parking lot scene,” Kwapis continued. “So I just remember thinking, well since we didn’t do the scene which is really kind of the turning point in their relationship — when Jim declares that he loves Pam and it upends everything… since we hadn’t done that this might be a way to just create a little tension.”
Kwapis told Fischer and Kinsey that he listened to their previous “Casino Night” podcast episode and was interested to hear Krasinski’s take on the pre-filming atmosphere. “I listened to your talk with John about this, and he’s right. It was weird, because I was also trying to like underplay the whole thing… I was trying to make as little out of it as possible even though the call sheet that day said in all caps, ‘JIM KISSES PAM.’ But I do feel like it was important that you guys be off balance.”
Another big discussion when filming the kiss scene was how many camera angles there would be, and if a second camera should have captured Pam’s reaction to the kiss. Ultimately, the crew settled on one camera angle, and Kwapis thought that was really powerful.
“First of all, I was probably crying watching the scene. But I remember thinking that the other reason the camera angle was so good was that Jim knows what he’s about to do. Jim has such a strong intention — he’s going there to kiss Pam. But Pam is unaware, and the camera angle really kind of puts us in Pam’s shoes… We are Pam,” he said. “We’re surprised by it as well, so it felt like another angle would have really hurt the way we were involved in that moment.”
Be sure to listen to the full podcast episode to learn more about Kwapis’ time on set and behind-the-scenes stories from filming “Casino Night.”