Filming any movie or TV show is a strenuous task. The main task is, of course, to give lines and do so convincingly. However, from cannons crushing feet to set pieces shattering legs to simply tripping over the various cables and wiring strewn across the set, acting can be, and often is, a dangerous job.
Even filming a show as benign as The Office comes with the occasional risk. In fact, the filming of a particularly hectic Season 9 episode almost killed the entire cast, according to Jenna Fischer, who starred as Pam, and Angela Kinsey, who played Angela. In their tell-all book entitled The Office BFFs: Tales of ‘The Office‘ from Two Best Friends Who Were There, Fischer and Kinsey described a hilarious scene that soon turned deadly.
The episode “Work Bus,” saw the beloved employees of Dunder Mifflin forced to work in a “mobile work station” rather than their usual office for the day. A small bus packed with 14 actors, four crew members, and a variety of office supplies, including printers and a microwave, does sound like instant comedy, but the situation quickly devolved into a disaster.
Ahead of the story, Jenna Fischer teased what was to come, “What could go wrong?” she wrote. “Who could have predicted that Ellie Kemper would pee her pants, or that the entire cast would almost be killed – twice?”
How the Entire Cast of ‘The Office’ Was Almost Killed Twice While Filming
Being crammed into a bus with their The Office co-stars and a mass of office supplies and filming equipment was just the start of what would become a terrible day for Angela Kinsey and Jenna Fischer. Although it was a “very hot day,” the cast couldn’t use the air conditioning on the bus because it was too loud. On top of the sweltering temperatures, the bus traveled along a winding road, leading to carsickness for many of the passengers.
To make matters worse, producers felt that the actors’ reactions to the “swerving” bus weren’t realistic enough. They brought in a stunt driver to actually swerve but didn’t warn the actors. Suddenly, actors, props, and equipment were being thrown in every direction as the bus careened down the road.
A lunch break gave the actors a brief reprieve, but things were about to get even worse. In an effort to make filming more comfortable for The Office cast, the crew installed a portable air-conditioning unit over the sunroof. And it was this portable A/C that almost killed the cast – again.
“Off we went. No more laughing fits. No more peeing. We were nailing our shots. That’s when I noticed a funny smell,” Fischer wrote. “We began debating whether the bus smelled funny. Then our camera operator spoke up. She didn’t feel well. She stumbled and set down her camera.”
“Guess what?” Fischer continued. “The portable air conditioning unit’s INTAKE hose was right next to the EXHAUST pipe on the bus. So that hose was sucking in exhaust and blowing it straight into the sunroof of the bus. We were all being slowly poisoned. Or not so slowly, actually.”