Many people may be able to relate to Ellie Kemper more than they realize. Her breakout role as Erin Hannon on the NBC sitcom The Office catapulted her into wider fame and fans’ hearts. Kemper’s character was the receptionist that replaced Jenna Fischer’s Pam Beesly and dated Pete Miller in the show’s final season. Critics and fans of the show gave positive reviews of Kemper’s character and noted that she added “freshness” to the cast.
Even though Kemper seemed like a natural during her on time on the comedy show, her first time on set was anything but that.
Ellie Kemper recalls her first day on ‘The Office’
Kemper joined the cast of The Office in the fifth season. Prior to this, the actress’ largest credit was in Mystery Team alongside Donald Glover. Kemper also appeared in sketches on the Late Night with Conan O’Brien and appeared on The Colbert Report. The actress gained some internet fame after working with Glover and his old comedy group, Derrick Comedy. She also auditioned for several shows, including NBC’s Parks and Recreation. Even though Kemper was turned down, her luck turned around when she landed the role of Erin Hannon.
Originally, Ellie Kemper’s character was only intended for a four-episode arc, but the show’s producers were impressed with her and decided to keep her on. During an interview with IGN in 2009, the actress reflected on learning that her character would become a series regular and how her first day went.
“First of all, my mom and I were just asking, ‘Is this a joke?’ and wetting ourselves. It was very exciting.” the actress explained. “The first day I showed up to set it was actually so early. I got there at 5:30 and I was so nervous and anxious and out of it that it really did feel like I was having a dream. They’re like, ‘Okay Ellie, you’re up!’ And then suddenly, you really are at Pam’s desk, which you’ve seen on TV a thousand times. It’s surreal.”
The actress got support from a co-star
Ellie Kemper continued that she found a lot of help and reassurance from fellow cast member, Ed Helms, who was also a newcomer to the show before permanently joining.
“He’s so nice. … But not until the table read [at the beginning of this season]… I don’t think people knew and I think some people still don’t know that I’m a regular. So at the table read, he said, ‘Oh, you’re here again!’ I said, ‘Oh yeah, I’m here!’ He said that was great and that he had done through the exact same thing wondering how long [he’d be on],” the actress recalled.
After The Office ended, Ellie Kemper went on to gain more prominent roles. The actress was given the lead role on the Netflix show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She also lent her voice to The Lego Batman Movie, as well as The Secret Life of Pets and its sequel. Kemper’s next film, The Stand-In, is set to release later this year.