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Quick Rap with 'The Office' Star Amy Ryan

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Sep 23, 2008 | 11:16am EDT

When the fifth season of NBC’s The Office premieres Thursday night (at 9/8c), veteran actress Amy Ryan will thankfully be back. Here’s what the Oscar nominee, who replaced Toby (star/writer/director/producer Paul Lieberstein) as Dunder-Mifflin’s HR director in last season’s finale, had to say about her experience on the show thus far.

On how her Office role came to be:

“I think there were a few things in play. One is I knew Paul Lieberstein many years ago from a television show we both worked on called The Naked Truth. And then most of the writers turned out to be fans of The Wire. And then I had briefly known Steve Carell when we shot the film Dan in Real Life. And then I got nominated for an Oscar and I asked my agent and manager--I said, you know, ‘The one job I’d like that I don’t think I’d get if I weren’t nominated…I want to be on The Office.’”

On joining an established cast like The Office’s:

“It’s quite intimidating...especially when you enter a show that you’re a fan of and you have great admiration for. You have to take a moment to allow yourself to join them. And--but it’s quite an extraordinary group that everyone was really supportive, and very down-to-earth, which is kind of staggering. You rarely see that when a group has a great success.”

On having some DVD-gag-reel-worthy moments with costars:

“It was one of my favorite things…almost to see who’s going to go first. And the day that I went first I was mortified. I was like, ‘That’s just not done with the new kid. You can’t do that.’ But I laughed so hard at one point that it turned into just bawling tears. So I’m not sure where the laughter began and sorrow took over, but I had to reapply [makeup].”

On how The Office is different from her previous, drama-heavy TV/movie/stage roles:

“Showing up to work to do a comedy and you’re guaranteed three fits of hysterical laughter a day, it feels really good. And not that dramas don’t, because they can be satisfying in their own ways. But there’s something… It’s just being like a kid--more so like getting together with your friends--and, you know, just playing, play acting. It was a nice split.”

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