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The paper chase is almost over: Tonight at 9 p.m., NBC will present the 75-minute series finale of The Office that will tie up the nine-season comedic saga of the sad-sack-yet-lovable employees at a paper company. This last episode will pick up several months after the documentary at the center of the show has aired, feature the wedding of Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and Angela (Angela Kinsey), and offer up an assortment of new guest stars (including Joan Cusack, Rachael Harris, Ed Begley, Jr. and Dakota Johnson). Former Office mates Mindy Kaling (a.k.a. Kelly) and B.J. Novak (a.k.a. Ryan) pop up as as well, and rumors swirl that Steve Carell also will make an appearance as world’s greatest ex-boss Michael Scott. (Wilson and Jenna Fischer, who plays Pam, indicated to EW that the rumors weren’t true, but given that these were phone interviews, we couldn’t see if their fingers were crossed.)
So, what will they say about the finale? Wilson calls it “epic” and says that the episode boasts “plots and subplots and action sequences and comedy and tragedy.” “It’s as if Francis Ford Coppola directed,” he loftily declares. “It’s Spielbergian. It’s vast in its scope.”
Adds Fischer: “Before the finale was written, Greg [Daniels, executive producer] reached out to every cast member and encouraged them to say what their dream for their characters would be. And he incorporated a lot of those things into the finale. So as an actress, as a fan, as Pam, I couldn’t be happier with the way the show wraps up. I think people are going to be happy… The finale is very sweet, and it’s emotional. It’s funny, but I think mostly it’s emotional.” Wilson and Fischer offer more gentle hints below.
• “I would say only half of the episode takes place in the office,” says Fischer. “A lot of it takes place in different locations and different places. The documentary has aired, and we’re catching up with these people.”
• “Some surprising people leave Dunder Mifflin in some very surprising ways,” says Wilson, seen here getting ready to cut the cake for one departing employee.
• “There’s a big Jim-Pam surprise,” says Fischer, referencing her onscreen spouse (John Krasinski). She also mentions one meaningful moment between Jim and Pam, which brings Pam back to her old station. “I can’t tell you why I’m sitting there or what I say when I’m sitting there but it was incredibly emotional. Not only to be back at the desk but to know that it was for the last time.… To sit there and have John look at me and have me look at him, it was really special. Even at the table read, when I read that it was going to happen, I became emotional because I haven’t sat there in a very long time.”
• “There’s a new baby in the picture,” says Wilson. “The baby comes from a very surprising source.”
• “Dwight fires a bazooka, and you get to see him the happiest he’s ever been in over 200 episodes,” says Wilson.
• Apparently this group scene near the end of the episode is “the most heart-tuggingest scene of the whole shaboozle, where we’re all gathered at the very end of a long, strange adventure,” says Wilson. Adds Fischer: “It was really cool because the things that we’re talking about in the scenes and the subject matter of the scene was sort of mirroring how we were feeling in real life.”
• “Mose (Michael Schur) decides it’s a good idea to kidnap Angela, so she’s eventually found in the trunk of his car,” says Wilson.
• “Something that’s going to be really fun is some of the guest stars who pop up throughout the episode, and also who those guest stars end up being,” says Fischer. “We introduce some new people, so it’s not just people from the past.”
• “Why does Creed have a long, strange Fu Manchu beard?” says Wilson. “The mystery will be answered.”
Asked to describe their final moments of working on the show, Wilson and Fischer revealed that there weren’t too many dry eyes in the office. “We had been shooting so hard for the month previous, and that day we had been shooting for 13 or 14 hours,” says Wilson. ”When they called, ‘And that’s a wrap on the television series The Office,’ I just burst into tears… I compare it to V-J Day in Times Square, where it was like that photograph of that sailor kissing that girl and hats being thrown in the air. It’s a celebration, but it’s also exhausting.”
Offers Fischer: “The final scene that we shot — which is not the final scene of the episode — was of everybody leaving the office. Whenever we [shoot] a scene, we do the scene and then they yell ‘Cut! Going again!’ And then we run the scene again. And to indicate that we’re finished, they yell ‘Cut cut! Moving on!’ Or if it’s the end of the day, they yell, ‘Cut cut! That’s a wrap!’ So this was our last day and it was our last scene and the thing we had to shoot was everybody leaving work. We all walked out and then we stood offstage in a little huddle, because there’s not a lot of room when you leave the set. You’re almost in something the size of a closet. So the whole cast was gathered behind the fake wall and we would walk off and then we would hear a pause and then ‘Cut! Going again!’ And we’d all walk back in the office and do our little bit, and then we’d leave again and then we’d wait and they’d say, ‘Cut! Going again!’ And this is a very easy scene, it’s just people walking out the door. So after the third time that we did it, there was a very long pause and we all kind of held our breath, and then they yelled ‘Cut cut! That’s a wrap! That’s a series wrap!’ And then we all just burst into tears. I’m going to burst into tears just telling you this story. We were all standing there in a group and we knew that we’d never hear ‘Going again!’ again. And then we all walked back in, and that’s when the crew members and Greg came and we all started hugging and crying. And that photo is us walking back in after they yelled, ‘That’s a wrap!'”
Afterward, the cast attended a wrap party, followed by a private gathering at Chateau Marmont, where there would be one last performance: ”Oscar, Angela, and I have a tradition of dancing to ‘Single Ladies,’ says Fischer. ”So Oscar led us in a dance to ‘Single Ladies,'” says Fischer. “He’s very good at it. He is the Beyoncé of the group and Angela and I are his backup dancers, and we just mimic whatever he’s doing…. We felt like we needed to have one more ”Single Ladies’ before it was all over.”