When it comes to stunts on The Office, Kate Flannery was an absolute champ.
Flannery’s character Meredith found herself in a fair share of precarious situations — from her hair catching on fire at a holiday party to Dwight trapping her in a bag with a bat. Though Flannery didn’t do every stunt herself, she was actually in that scene where Michael Scott hits Meredith with his car. And she reminisced about filming the scene on the latest episode of the .
When chatting about the first half of the Season 4 premiere, “Fun Run,” Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey decided to call up Flannery (who’s arguably the star of the episode) to get her input.
After sharing how she got hired on the show and fondly recalling cherished memories from set, Flannery talked about one of the show’s greatest cold opens, in which Michael hits her with his car in the Dunder Mifflin parking lot.
The art of getting “hit” by a car
After marveling over the fact that Flannery did her own car stunt in this episode, Fischer asked Flannery what came to mind when she first read the script.
“I literally said, ‘Does she live?… “Does Meredith live'”? I said it right away,” Flannery said, noting that there were rumors flying around that one of the writers wanted Michael to fully kill Meredith with his car in that scene. Luckily, she said, showrunner Greg Daniels thought that plot twist would be too dark.
“I was so conscious of it because I was like, ‘I know this isn’t a soap opera, [but] this could be it,'” Flannery continued.
Though the final cut shows Meredith slamming into the windshield of Michael’s car, Flannery went on to reveal that it wasn’t the original plan.
“The first time we shot it, literally, they played it almost like Meredith was a speed bump that he just went over,” she explained. “I was underneath the wheel. We finished shooting the episode. And then I think two weeks later, Dave Rogers, our Emmy-winning editor, had an idea for an insert shot that he thought was so much more interesting than what we had shot, which was Meredith hitting the glass.”
Flannery, who loves physical comedy, happily agreed to do the stunt, but Steve Carell was unavailable for the reshoot, so production assistant Dan Beals had to get behind the wheel.
“So Dan Beals, who was our PA, who was so young at the time, he had Steve’s jacket on and shirt. So it was his hand that they would cut from,” Flannery explained. “[The] car was stationary. I started in the center of the hood. I had to roll up to the glass and then roll off the car onto a giant mat.”
After applauding Flannery’s parking lot takes, Kinsey asked if the stunt took a toll on her body. Spoiler alert: It did.
“I remember the Emmys were like the next week and I was so bruised. I had to use like body makeup,” Flannery said.
Even though the fake car accident hurt, the stunt remains one of Flannery’s favorites from filming.
Hold up. Meredith almost died?
Oh yeah, let’s get back to that whole the writers of The Office almost killed off Meredith thing, because WHAT?
“Remember in her interview when Kate said that her first thought was, ‘Oh, my gosh, does Meredith live?’ And she heard that maybe there were some writers who had pitched that they kill Meredith?” Fischer asked Kinsey. “I got to the bottom of it.”
“I was e-mailing with Greg Daniels and Justin Spitzer, and they told me that, yes. They spent one evening pitching on this idea that maybe Meredith died, but it’s more than that. It’s not just that Meredith died,” Fischer continued.
“Greg told me that, first of all, the idea was that they would shoot this as a spy shot so they would not have a camera inside the car with Michael. It would just be a spy shot of him arriving at work for the day with the talking head as a voiceover,” she said. “[Daniels] said that the pitch was that Michael would accidentally hit Meredith with this car and then thinking that no one could see him, he didn’t want to leave any witnesses, and so in one pitch, he backed over her to make sure she was dead.”
“Oh, good lord,” Kinsey replied.
But readers, it gets worse.
Fischer went on to explain that there was also a pitch that involved Michael going into his trunk, grabbing one of those anti-theft devices called The Club, and clubbing Meredith to death before hiding her body. I mean…no!
“Were they on drugs? Were they on drugs? I mean, seriously, that is the end of the show. There’s no coming back,” Kinsey exclaimed. “What were they thinking?”
“That’s what Greg said. Greg said, ‘Of course we could never do this, but it was a pitch that was discussed for some time.’ And he said there were a few writers who were fighting for it. They were fighting for Michael to accidentally and then purposely do Meredith in,'” Fischer revealed.
Daniels wouldn’t give any names, but thankfully those writers didn’t win the fight and Meredith lived to see another six seasons.
Be sure to listen to the full podcast episode for more behind-the-scenes stories about filming “Fun Run.”