And a lot of times, it’s interesting to find a little place in yourself…it can be a tiny half-inch by half-inch square that resides somewhere in your body…but you find it, hook into it, and explode it into your entire self, your entire being, and that becomes the character.And I feel that there’s a tiny place in me that I hook into for Jan…and, uh, Jan comes from there.BE: Out of curiosity, when you were doing the “Dirty Dancing” series, did you think that it really had a chance, or did you just think, “Oh, they’re just hoping to catch lightning in a bottle twice”? Steve Tisch was producing it, and he was a really big producer. He’d made some amazing movies and was kind of moving into TV, and he and I had made a movie together right before that called “Soul Man,” and I think that Steve…I thought Steve had really great taste, and I felt like it could make a good series, and it was such a huge hit as a movie. BE: Right, and I was going to ask how many episodes you guys have in the can. So I’m glad we got to do that in the quiet of my dressing room. And, also, I’m doing this singing gig in January at the Catalina Jazz Club, which is pretty exciting.
MH: No, we had an immediate chemistry, and I think that that’s part of where the relationship spawned from, that there was an immediate spark. Steve Carell, Greg Daniels, and I were having lunch one day, and we were laughing and saying, “Wouldn’t it funny if these two characters hooked up?It’s just a really exciting character to play, so much meat to sink my teeth into.BE: At times, I feel like she’s borrowing from some problem women her on television.So, yeah, I think I enjoy any of those little interactions that I have…even the stuff with Pam, where I’m threatening her not to look at my man or to take my man. BE: When the producers told you that Jan was going to be fired, did you think, “Oh, crap,” or did you just figure, “Eh, it had to happen eventually”?MH: Well, I think knew that she was going to get a boob job, and the boob job happened in the episode that she got fired in, so I wasn’t really…I guess I knew that I wasn’t ) But I think it was the right choice, because it makes for us to get a little bit…for the audience to see her out of the workplace, struggling to find her personal space and her personal self.BE: At the point when Jan finally does get another job, do you think that the relationship will endure, or do you think that she’s enjoying it so much right now because he’s there for her? BE: Have you yourself ever had to deal with sudden unemployment like that? (On the “Office” convention: “Oh, my gosh, it was just outrageous! You know, 4,000 people sitting there for the Q&A session, hanging on our every word, laughing at our every word, and just loving every minute of it.” MH: Yeah, because he plays Todd Packer.MH: I think that they will probably have a long future of breaking up and getting back together. I can’t see that they would just be blissful…in either state, apart or together. () But, yeah, she’ll have to somehow get back into the workplace. MH: Well, I was hired to be in “Back to the Future”… Yeah, so it was kind of a fun, serendipitous thing that we ended up playing husband and wife.She comes in with so much all the time, and I love that about her, and I love that the audience seems to really…they seem to get it. I get a lot of e-mails from people on my My Space page and my website where they’re saying, “Wow, we love Jan, and we love her because of all the stuff that’s happening to her,” and it’s stuff that hasn’t even really been in the episodes! And I’m a singer, too, so I sang in front of 1,500 screaming fans on Saturday night. So that was fun, to get back in the saddle with him, as it were.But they feel it, and they’re right along with it, and it’s very exciting to feel that the fans are with you that much and watching that closely. That was pretty awesome; I felt like Mick Jagger for a night. Yeah, I think they were very shocked…and pleasantly surprised…and probably a little overwhelmed, because I think I have…I don’t know. Creed (Batton) actually said to me, “Omigod, you were so sexy, I’m gonna start calling you ‘Torch.’ That’s gonna be your new nickname: ‘Torch.’” () Yeah, I think it was. He’s very funny; he’s kind of out there just as much as his character, but in a whole different way. He’s a fun director to work with, because he makes a lot of space for play, and we have a good time. I love being knocked over and trampled; I think that’s really fun stuff to do.I thought it was pretty revelatory as far as her character evolution; it was really interesting in that episode.You got to see her so turned off by him, but then so turned on, and you just got to see her sadness and her confusion, and her ability to go barreling through, even though all is falling apart. BE: Do you draw either from personal experiences or the experiences of friends when you’re playing Jan? I do hook into a place with her, and I often describe creating a character by saying that, as actors, we are our own tools and our own toolset.