Ellie Kemper: Yeah, on The Office, they similarly allow for a lot of improvisation. Unfortunately, though, due to the schedules there just isn’t enough time to do that many takes, because if you have to finish an episode in a week. I think that’s what was so nice about working on the movie—there was that luxury of time on our side.
You know what, though? I still get scared to improvise on The Office, only because I still feel like I’m pretty new, and I don’t want to mess anything up. [Laughs.] And, also, the writing is so precise, so you don’t really need to improvise, though they definitely allow for that.
You’ve been on the show for a couple years now—you still feel like a rookie?
Ellie Kemper: Oh my gosh! Yeah, that’s my paranoia again. Like, I’m thinking at any moment, “They might let me go!” [Laughs.] You never know!
Oh, I’m sure you’re fine. Obviously, the major story concerning The Office is Steve Carell’s departure. During his final episode, the two of you had a really heartfelt moment, perhaps the most heartfelt of any of Michael Scott’s goodbyes. How was it filming that scene with Steve Carell?
Ellie Kemper: Oh my goodness! I had been crying for a week prior, and then a week prior to that, just thinking about him leaving. It was sad; he was very sad, and you could see that. I think sadness is contagious, like yawns, so the whole cast and crew was feeling sad.
"It’ll be exciting to see how people’s roles within The Office itself change."
But, anyway, that was just really me being sad in that scene; I can’t say there was much acting involved. Usually, really serious and sad moments are tough for me to play, but that was an easy one because I was actually sad.
Transitioning into happier Office-related topics...literally seconds before this interview began, I received my CD single copy of your fictional group Subtle Sexuality’s new single, “The Girl Next Door.”
Ellie Kemper: [Gasps] Oh, yes! I love it! I love that! I know you’re going to be playing that song all day long now.
Indeed, it’s a certified banger.
Ellie Kemper: [Laughs.] Yes! That makes me so happy.
How’d this new phase of Subtle Sexuality come about?
Ellie Kemper: Hey, listen—the fans have been clamoring for another video. [Laughs.] I think after the success of “Male Prima Donna”.... Listen to me, now I sound like I’m actually in a real band. They just decided that we should make another video, really. We shot that last fall, actually, and I’ve been waiting every day, wondering, “When is that coming out?”
Because I’m actually not a good dancer or singer, I love those videos. They allow me to live the fantasy out that I am an excellent singer and dancer. [Laughs.] It’s a lot of fun. I don’t say this to be vain, but I have both of Subtle Sexuality’s songs on my workout mix, because I think they’re really uplifting. I think the new one, “The Girl Next Door,” hits the Taylor Swift tone of it right on the nose—it’s perfect. [Laughs.]
Do you think you and Mindy Kaling [her fellow Office co-star and Subtle Sexuality band-mate] will ever do a full-length album, a la The Lonely Island?
Ellie Kemper: Oh, I tell you—I think that would literally be the highlight of my entire career if it ever happened. I’d love to do an album. I also want to go on a tour. I want to do it all! Yeah, I want to go on talk shows as our band, but, anyway…I don’t have the power to make that happen.
I could never perform music in any seriousness, because, unfortunately, I am not gifted in that way. But if people are in on the joke and know that it’s not serious, then I, in my head, can still believe that it’s real. [Laughs.] And that’s what I want!
Well, I look forward to someday hearing Subtle Sexuality take over the radio airwaves. Now that Steve Carell has officially left the show, where do you see the future of The Office heading?
Ellie Kemper: I don’t know who is going to take over as the boss, and I think that will, obviously, have a huge effect on where the show goes; the dynamics will eventually shift. I think it’ll be exciting to see how people’s roles within The Office itself change, you know?
I know with my own character, I kind of would like to see Erin grow up a little. I don’t know what her romantic life has in store, but I do think it would be nice to see her maybe struggle a little bit, if that doesn’t sound too masochistic. I just mean that in terms of growing up. So that’s what I would like to see, but I’m excited to see what will happen in the next season. It can go any number of ways, and it’s sad that Steve is gone. The bright side is, though, that the show is forced to go in new directions.
And you know what that could mean—room for more Subtle Sexuality!
Ellie Kemper: [Laughs.] You are…what is it? “Your mouth to God’s ears,” right? Yes, all I’m saying is that I echo your sentiment 100%. Subtle Sexuality should run The Office! Problem solved.