Why The Office’s Jan Actor Felt Isolated Working With The Cast

Melora Hardin played Jan on The Office, but here’s why the actor felt isolated from the cast despite being a recurring character. While American remakes of classic British sitcoms often meet with little success, The Office is a rare exception where the U.S. remake is arguably more beloved. The Office was co-created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, with the series framed as a documentary following the employees of a dysfunctional paper company. The series was also a breakthrough for Gervais, who played the awkward boss David Brent, whose attempts at humor often misfired horribly. In keeping with many classic UK comedies, it didn’t actually last long, coming to an end after two series and a finale special.


Hopes weren’t high for the American take on The Office, which debuted in 2005 and cast Steve Carell as Brent counterpart Michael Scott. While it took a little while to find its feet, the U.S. Office evolved into one of the funniest shows on TV, and in addition to Carell, it made stars of John Krasinski and Rainn Wilson. It also lasted much longer than the original, running for nine seasons – though Carell exited following season 7. Even though it ended in 2013, streaming services have seen to it that The Office is rarely out of the cultural conversation.

One of the most famous recurring villains on The Office was Jan, played by Melora Hardin (Transparent). Jan was the Vice President of Northeast Sales at Dunder Mifflin. She was famous for her somewhat humorless approach to management, and whereas Michael desperately wanted to be liked by his staff, Jan was entirely career focused and didn’t concern herself with such matters. Despite their differing personas, Jan and Michael still entered into a romantic relationship for a time. Hardin’s work made Jan one of The Office’s most enjoyably hatable characters, but in the Spotify podcast Off The Beat with Brian Baumgartner, the actor revealed the nature of the role kept her somewhat isolated from the cast.

Melora Hardin’s Role Kept Her Apart From The Office’s Cast

Hardin stated of her time as The Office’s Jan that “I felt, even as time went on, there was a sense of not belonging there. Really I don’t think I ever felt like I belonged.” Considering Jan kept herself at an emotional distance from the Dunder Mifflin gang – where the other actors got to bond from working together so much – it’s understandable that Hardin felt apart from the cast. The actor did clarify she had fun on the sitcom, as she also revealed “That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy everybody and love everybody.”

She also revealed some of her favorite memories of filming The Office, but that sense of not belonging never really left. Jan was always intended to be something of an antagonist on The Office – where there’s a dark theory about Michael’s father and Hardin’s distance from the main cast probably played into that feeling whenever the character appeared.

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