The actor looks back at his days as a Dunder Mifflin accountant while chatting about his  iHeartRadio podcast, Off the Beat.
Michael Scott, The Office (Steve Carell)

The Office alum Brian Baumgartner is ready to talk about characters who aren't Kevin Malone, the beloved Dunder Mifflin accountant (and homemade chili enthusiast) who made him a household name.

In his iHeartRadio podcast Off the Beat, a follow-up to his popular The Office Deep Dive, Baumgartner takes pop culture fanatics deeper (that's what she said) into the world of Hollywood, chatting with celebrities, TV personalities, and occasionally athletes about favorite on-set moments, never-before-shared stories, and reflections on some of their most iconic roles. 

In his latest episode, out today, Baumgartner chats with Boy Meets World alum Danielle Fishel, who shares stories about her first kiss (on set of the classic coming-of-age 1993 sitcom with costar Ben Savage), her return to her sitcom roots in the 2014 spin-off Girl Meets World, and much more. 

Jon HammAlyson Hannigan, and, Office costars Creed BrattonOscar Nunez, and Catherine Tate are among past guests on Off the Beat, which borrows a bit from Office Deep Dive. "I was really enjoying the conversations and the format that we created," Baumgartner tells EW, "and so the idea was always to keep it going. For me really, it's about examining those off the beat moments."

The Office
Brian Baumgartner in 'The Office'
| Credit: NBC

Baumgartner has been on his own journey. He began his career in the early 2000s, making small cameos in TV shows (The Lyon's Den, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) before landing the gig as Kevin in The Office. After the workplace comedy wrapped, Baumgartner continued his work in TV, starring in Hot in Cleveland, Criminal Minds, Hand of God, The Goldbergs, and Trash Truck, among others. Yet, a decade later, Baumgartner gets the sense he won't be escaping Kevin anytime soon.

"The Office being 10 years, nine seasons, I mean, I was essentially on the show the entirety of my thirties," he says. "I mean, it was a decade. To give people perspective, that's like progressing from high school through college and then a couple of more years. It's such a long period of your life and you establish such deep relationships and obviously, such close identification with those characters. At the time we were doing 30 episodes a year, which now is like never, ever done. So we were working a lot of weeks."

When it all came to an end, "I wanted to distance myself,"  Baumgartner reflects. "I thought, 'I don't want to be Kevin Malone forever.' I spent a long time turning down roles that I felt were too similar or wanted a similar sort of feeling and character." With the show's revival on streaming (namely, Netflix), however, "It all just built this momentum," he says. "Which was like, 'Well, I don't think I'm going to be escaping this one anytime soon.'"

Not that he's complaining. "I consider it a blessing, especially the amazing fans who talk about how The Office gave them comfort, how it helped them during a difficult time," Baumgartner says. "I mean, countless stories, way more than I can mention. That's an amazing thing." The actor is more introspective than his accountant counterpart (nor does he possess his low baritone, but you already know that!), offering analysis on how Kevin's iconic chili scene is symbolic for the series as a whole when asked to reflect on his most memorable sequence.

"If I knew then that moment would still be living on," Baumgartner muses with a laugh. "It was really a fun scene to shoot because it was just me and kind of unlike anything else, really, that ever lived on the show — sort of an entire scene playing out under a monologue by the character. I'm going to take a different answer than what I've usually give about this before, but I do think that this is true: In a lot of ways, that moment has become sort of symbolic of the show."

The sequence, Baumgartner observes, "is about an ordinary person who does one thing really well and is tremendously proud of it, and wants to show it off to the people that he cares about, the people in this case that work in his office." He says, "Like the show, those moments tend to go wrong, [but] it's about the creation of that thing. Ultimately, the last line of the show, Pam, when asked why would Dunder Mifflin was a good subject for a documentary, says, 'It's about beauty in ordinary things. Isn't that kind of the point?'"

"And I think that's the show," Baumgartner continues. "That chili moment, it's about an ordinary guy who doesn't do a lot well, but he does chili well. And you throw in some laughs and obviously... it doesn't succeed. But you hear in his voice how excited he is to be sharing this thing that he does well, and he says, 'It's probably the thing I do best.' I hope, in addition to making people laugh, that that's why people still continue to talk about that scene."

For more Brianisms, tune into Off the Beat, which drops new episodes weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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Michael Scott, The Office (Steve Carell)
The Office

The mockumentary-style sitcom chronicles a group of typical office employees working 9-5 at the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

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