Greg Daniels is an Emmy Award winning comedy writer, producer, and director who has leant his wit and experience to shows like King of the Hill, Parks and Recreation, and Seinfeld, among many others. He also acted as a developer, showrunner, executive producer, director, and writer on The Office for the duration of its nine-season run. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Daniels revealed that the U.S. version of the beloved series almost wasn't made, all because he was uninspired by the title.
"The UK version hadn’t finished airing and I’d never heard of it. My agent sent me a VHS tape of season one. It had a somewhat boring title so I didn’t look at it. He told me he wanted to show it to someone else if I wasn’t interested, so I popped it in. I watched the entire first series that evening," Daniels admitted.
So after he fell in love with the show, the next step was sitting down with the creators of the British version. "I arranged to meet with Ricky [Gervais] and Stephen [Merchant] when they were in the US. We got along really well. They were big fans of The Simpsons, which I’d worked on. I made my pitch to adapt it in a way that was very similar to the values I had doing King of the Hill, which was very realistic," Daniels explained. However, despite his passion for the project, Daniels was then apprehensive about remaking a show that was already great.
"I was somewhat hampered by excessive respect for the original," Daniels continued. "The challenge of the pilot was 'can I make something that looks and feels like the British show and has a great cast?' After the show got ordered, I had another five episodes. Then the challenge was 'let’s do all original scripts and see if we can keep that feeling of the British show but do it from an American point of view.'" Despite initial wariness, the hard work obviously paid off.
In the end, Daniels said it was the talent of the cast and crew that cemented the show's success. "It was really lightning in a bottle to get that cast together and the writers, as well. It was a very talented crew that made it and loved it and put in the extra effort," he stated. Daniels and Michael Scott actor Steve Carell recently collaborated on Netflix's new comedy Space Force, which is out now.