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James Hibberd

Sweating with the Kids from ‘The Office’

July 23, 2006 10:54 PM

It seems hard to believe, but a chance encounter on the Ritz lawn in hundred-plus degree heat can be the highlight of the press tour.

That's what I realized Saturday night at NBC's all-star party, after I had spent a few mintues trying to cool off by rolling a beer bottle across my forehead.

"Look, it's Phyllis!" he squealed. Sitting at a table was indeed Phyllis Smith, who plays customer sales rep Phyllis, one of the brilliant supporting case members of NBC's "The Office." Plus, she was sitting with Leslie David Baker, who plays paper salesman Stanley.

We basically forced ourselves on the gracious pair, who gave us paper to wipe the sweat off our brows. Smith and Baker have been enjoying their "Office" rides and the attention that comes with it.

"I had a screamer in the Ralph's the other day," Baker said. "Oh, I had your screamer too," Smith said noting that the same fan had approached her and told Smith she had also met Baker.

Getting the feel of working a crappy office job wasn't hard for either actor. Native Chicagoan Baker worked a number of places in cluding a few gigs with psychiatric patients.

Smith, who is originally from St. Louis, had to deal with similar personalities in her last job -- she worked in a casting office. Viewers feel they really know the characters, both actors said.

Baker noted that fans come up to him and regularly tell him they know what his character is thinking in the frequent reaction shots the show uses to play up the comedy.

"They don't know what I'm thinking," Baker said. "Most of the time I'm just tired because of the 5 a.m. call."


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