Fans of the TV series The Office know Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesly, the receptionist for Dunder-Mifflin whose love life provides the show with one of its most entertaining storylines. During her time off from the popular series, Fischer had the opportunity to work with Will Ferrell and Jon Heder in the ice skating comedy movie Blades of Glory. Fischer plays Katie, the wallflower sister of Ferrell and Heder's main pairs skating competition, Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg (played by the real life husband and wife team of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler).
Being the Film’s Straight Woman: “It was very not fair because it was like my job was basically to not laugh throughout this whole film,” said Fischer. “That was my job. Somehow I got stuck with that job. Like the receiver of funny, I am the funny receptacle I guess. ‘Throw your funny here.’ It was great. I laughed a lot - particularly off camera I laughed a lot making this movie. It was like getting to go to a top comedy show every day for my job. Also [it was] like a master class in comedy. Believe me, I learned so much from Amy Poehler. She is brilliant, super smart and very funny, and I literally took mental notes on how to be funnier. I would go home at night and try out her brand of comedy on my husband and friends. I picked up like two comedy tricks from her. I was like in study mode.”
So what were the tricks she picked up? “She does a great straight man,” explained Fischer. “She does a really, really great straight man where she can pimp you into doing a bit. She has this great improv technique, but she has a great way of making suggestions that are really, really good in comparison to other people I've been around. That's such boring comedy speak but she's very good at it - especially with Will Ferrell. She can get him to do the most ridiculous stuff. She's really good.”
The Need for a Grounded Character in This Sort of Over-the-Top Comedy: Fischer’s character is important in helping to keep Blades of Glory accessible to an audience. “I think it’s always good that there be somebody in the film that the audience can relate to,” said Fischer. “They sort of see the film through that person's eyes. I definitely felt like the only sane person in an insane asylum. You're running around going, ‘No, I'm not crazy,’ but everyone doesn't believe you because they're crazy. It was like that sort of thing. It was surreal. I think the coach, Craig T Nelson, is not too crazy. He sort of has that frustration of having to work with the lunatics.”
Working with Two Directors: Josh Gordon and Will Speck, the guys responsible for the popular GEICO caveman commercials, made their feature film directing debuts with Blades of Glory. Fischer called working with the twosome kind of cool. “I mean it was like a blessing and a curse in the way that like there were always one set of eyes on your performance. Usually a director has to take in both the camera technicality of making a movie and the performance element of making a movie. In this case there were 2 guys so they could just divide and conquer. They would confer and then Josh would go talk to the crew and Will would come talk to the actors. You just couldn't get away with anything. All these eyes were on your performance so in that way it kind of elevated you because every take was someone was watching your acting. But in another way you were like, ‘Man, I just want to phone it in for once. Just one take, concentrate on the camera, don’t concentrate on me.’ Yeah. It was cool. It was nice. For a big movie like this I think it was helpful.”
Behind the Scenes of the Groping Scene: Asked how many takes it took to get it right, Fischer joked, “It's not takes, it's number of hours. That was a 12-hour day. That was 12 hours of Will Ferrell massaging my boobs. Like around hour 7 you're like, ‘Man, my boobs don't need any more action for like a few months.’ I can tell you. Like my husband, I was like slapping his hands away for 2 weeks. Like, ‘They're done. No more.’ That was a lot. I mean that's a full 2 minutes on screen of him touching my boobs, so that was like a whole day of that.”
Fischer explained the approach to the scene. “The first take is like he said, ‘Okay Jenna, you're married and I'm married and no funny business. Anything that makes you uncomfortable I want you to tell me. I just want you to feel comfortable.’ I said, ‘Okay, let’s just go for it and make it funny.’ He's like, ‘Yeah.’ So we just went for it and as soon as they yelled cut, his hands came off like he was touching a hot iron. He was so respectful. But then around hour 8 it's so normal that they yelled cut and we are discussing the scene with the director and I said, ‘Yeah, dude, your hands are still on my boobs.’ And that was cool, but when we went to lunch and he was still squeezing my boobs and then that night at my car... I haven't been in a lot of films, but he said that was normal - but I'm still not sure. I'm not positive that that was right. He said that was okay and he suggested to promote the film he should play with my boobs. I think that's cool, right? That's how it's done. That's what he said. Yeah.”
And the Kiss with Jon Heder: “Yeah, that kiss with Jon... In the script it just said they kissed. It didn't say they kissed the grossest kiss you've ever seen. It just says, ‘They kiss.’ We sort of felt our two characters that was their first kiss in life. They were older and not experienced and we thought, ‘What must that look like?’ In rehearsal he said, ‘Okay, I'm going to keep my mouth closed but I'm going to keep kissing you with a closed mouth and I want you to tongue kiss me and tongue kiss my face.’ I was like, ‘All right…’ That's what we did. I was so excited because I really didn't know Jon very well and he was so game. He was just so up for just really being crazy. That was like five hours of frenching his lips, I guess.”