Die-hard Office fans will know that stars (and real-life besties) Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey have been taking a trip down memory lane with their podcast, the Office Ladies, which has them rewatching all nine seasons of the hit comedy series together and dishing up fascinating filming details and other behind-the-scenes secrets. On the latest episode of the podcast, which launched in October 2019, Jenna and Angela had listeners riveted with the true story behind one of the show’s most memorable scenes — the moment Jim (played by John Krasinski) got down on one knee in the rain and proposed to Pam (played by Jenna) at a gas station.
Jenna said ‘Office’ showrunner Greg Daniels put quite a lot of thought into the proposal.
As he mapped out a plot development that fans had long been pining for, he had the idea to write the proposal into the season five premiere.
"He thought, No. 1, that would be unexpected. You usually end seasons with proposals. So he thought this would be a real shock," Jenna explained (via People), before Angela chimed in that most of the cast "didn’t even see it coming" because there were so many other storylines unfolding in that same episode.
Greg also wanted the scene to happen in an unexpected place.
"He wanted to throw people off by having it in a very ordinary location," Jenna said.
And considering that roadside gas stations hardly have the makings of romance, he definitely succeeded. "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 added.
The proposal scene lasted 52 seconds — but cost $250,000 to make.
Instead of filming at an existing gas station, the show’s production team created one from scratch — based on an actual gas station that Greg often visited. Over a period of nine days, the crew built the set in a Best Buy parking lot in California.
"To create the illusion of highway traffic, they built a four-lane circular racetrack 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 miles an hour. Then they added rain pouring down on us (with) these giant rain machines," Jenna recounted.
"Our production manager said they had about 35 precision drivers. They were driving not just cars, but like, semi-trucks. When we were standing there on that set, you could feel the wind like, of these cars speeding past you. It was so, so bonkers."
And all of that added up to a small fortune. "In the end, this was the single-most expensive scene shot in the entire run of the show," Jenna said.
And as it turns out, the gas station set was far from romantic for a whole other reason.
Angela revealed that the set was so massive and complicated to create because it was constructed on a "paved-over toxic waste site." Yep, totally not romantic.
But hey, it did work out well for Pam and Jim in the end. They went on to marry in the sixth season and then have two children, daughter Cecilia and son Phillip. And they remain one of TV’s most loved couples of all time.
During a past podcast episode, Jenna also revealed a hilarious secret about Pam’s wardrobe.
Evidently, while she was filming all those scenes from her chair behind the Dunder Mifflin reception desk, Jenna said "there were times when I didn’t dress the bottom half of my body."
But before anyone got any crazy ideas, Angela quickly cut in and clarified, saying, "You weren’t commando."
The real truth was that Jenna got pretty tired of wearing Pam’s signature pencil skirts and pantyhose all the time. "So sometimes, if I was only seated behind the reception desk, I only dressed the top half of Pam and the bottom half was Uggs and sweatpants."
We can’t say we blame her for wanting to be comfortable during those super-long filming days!