Jenna Fischer reveals Jim's proposal to Pam on The Office cost six figures!
You'll never believe all that was involved to make the 52-second scene.
Fischer brought up the famed scene during the latest episode of her Office Ladies podcast (with costar Angela Kinsey), giving a little backstory on how the tender moment, in the rain, standing between pumps at a gas station, came about during the NBC comedy's season 5 premiere.
"So first of all, I just want you guys to know that [showrunner] Greg [Daniels] spoke with us about this. He said that he really wanted Jim's proposal to Pam to be in the season premiere. He thought, number one — that would be unexpected. You usually end seasons with proposals," Fischer said.
The actress explained that Daniels purposely chose the gas station — one set between Scranton and New York — to add an unexpected twist.
"He said he also wanted to throw people off by having it in a very ordinary location. So, he wanted [it] to feel special, but he also wanted it to feel like Jim made the decision without a whole lot of planning," she said.
The self-serve locale was based on ones the showrunner saw as a child, but instead of using something already in existence, the team behind the show built their own gas station set in nine days "in the parking lot of a Best Buy," Fischer revealed.
If you rewatch the scene, you'll see cars whizzing past Pam and a down-on-one-knee Jim, and that wasn't put in by editors in post, but made for the scene. Fischer said they "built a four-lane, circular race track around the gas station set. They set up cameras on the other side of this raceway and they had cars drive around it at 55 mph."
The scene did benefit from some special effects — the California mountains were edited out and replaced with trees seen on the East Coast.
"In the end, this was the single most expensive scene ever shot in the entire run of the show. It lasts 52 seconds, and it cost $250,000," Fischer revealed, to Kinsey's great shock.
But that wasn't all. Kinsey noted that she learned from the show's production manager that the actual spot where everything was set up had a very serious history. The "massive" locale where they filmed, Kinsey said, was "paved over a toxic waste site."
Fischer noted that the additional information only adds to Jim and Pam's proposal story. Meaning: "Jim and Pam, our beloved 'Jam' got engaged at a former toxic waste dump," she said. "I mean, yikes!"