Actress Kate Flannery Recalls Details of One of Her Most Famous Scenes from The OfficeDecember 17, 2020
The Office is regarded as one of the best sitcoms of the modern age. Despite being known for biting workplace satire, The Office sometimes strayed from the trappings of a typical sitcom and mixed comedy with drama. One of the most infamous examples of the more serious side of the show was when Steve Carrell’s Michael hit Dunder Mifflin co-worker Meredith Palmer, played by Kate Flannery, with his car in the opening shot of the season four premiere. While the incident is one of the most shocking scenes from The Office, there was even more drama surrounding it behind the scenes. In a new interview with co-stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey on the Office Ladies podcast, Flannery revealed some surprising bits of information about the now iconic scene.
Flannery began her talk with Fischer and Kinsey by noting that she is a major fan of physical comedy and sought to do her own stunts as much as possible in the show. To that end, Flannery happily volunteered to do her own stunt work when Meredith got hit by Michael. Despite the dangerous situation, Flannery relayed that her initial thoughts on reading the episode’s script were not for any harm that might come to her. Rather, Flannery was worried about a rumor that she heard that the show’s writers were planning to kill off her character. Speaking to showrunner Greg Daniels directly, Flannery was assured that Meredith would survive the incident. Flannery further recalls how Daniels felt Meredith dying in such a way would be far too dark for The Office.
Continuing, Flannery relayed the multiple takes she and the crew did to get the perfect shot of Meredith being struck by Michael’s car. The first take was more simple, with Meredith lying in the Dunder Mifflin parking lot as Michael ran over her similar to a speed bump. Several weeks later, editor Dave Rogers approached Flannery with the far more interesting idea of Meredith hitting Michael’s front windshield. The stunt itself was fairly easy as Flannery began the take with her head in the middle of the windshield. The stunt nevertheless took its toll on the actress as she had to roll onto a carefully placed gym mat for several takes. Remarking on the stunt, Flannery told Fischer and Kinsey of being bruised for the next week and having to apply body makeup to attend the Emmy Awards.
After filming the scene, Flannery wanted more information on rumors surrounding the writers’ intention to kill off Meredith in the episode. In emails to Daniels and writer Justin Spitzer, Flannery learned the writers debated having Michael accidentally run over Meredith and then purposely backup over her to make sure that she was dead. Other writers suggested that Michael run over Meredith and then bludgeon her to death with his car’s antitheft club. Fischer and Kinsey were shocked by Flannery’s revelations. When Kinsey joked that the writers must have been on drugs to suggest killing Meredith in such a brutal way, Flannery said that in Daniels’ view, the proposals were never serious and would have never worked with the tone of the show.