The Office’s Brian Baumgartner Talks Kevin Malone, Nine Seasons & Plenty of Poker

The Office’s Brian Baumgartner Talks Kevin Malone, Nine Seasons & Plenty of Poker

The Office's Brian Baumgartner Talks Kevin Malone, Nine Seasons & Plenty of Poker 102

After nine highly successful seasons, NBC’s The Office will end on May 16 with an hour-long series finale, which will also be the show’s 200th episode. Brian Baumgartner, otherwise known as the lethargic yet affable Kevin Malone, has been there all along.

Accountant. Musician. Mentally Challenged. These are just a few of the words used to describe Kevin over the years, but for poker fans, perhaps the most applicable description is that of 2002 World Series of Poker $2,500 No-Limit 2-7 Draw champion*. That’s right, according to The Office Season 2 finale, Casino Night, Kevin went to Vegas and walked away with jewelry that is the envy of every poker player.

*There was no $2,500 variant in 2002, but Event #18 $1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Draw was actually won by Thor Hansen for $62,600.

The Office's Brian Baumgartner Talks Kevin Malone, Nine Seasons & Plenty of  Poker | PokerNews

Although the character of Kevin is a poker champion, Baumgartner the actor is far from it, though he is an experienced player. Born on November 29, 1972, in Athens, Georgia, Baumgartner attended Westminster High School, the same school that fellow The Office cast member Ed Helms attended years later. Baumgartner went to on serve as artistic director at the Hidden Theatre in Minneapolis and has performed regionally at the Children’s Theater Company, Guthrie Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Theatre de la Jeune Lune. In addition to appearing in The Office, Baumgartner has had roles in feature films such as License to Wed, Four Christmases and Into Temptation.

Baumgartner, who resides in L.A. with his wife, daughter and three dogs, recently spoke with PokerNews about his memorable character, the supposed WSOP win, and working on one of TV’s most popular shows for the past nine years.

PokerNews: You’re one of just a handful of people who’ve appeared in every episode of The Office dating back to 2005. After nearly a decade, the show is finally coming to an end. Are you proud of the legacy you and your cast mates are leaving behind?

The Office’s Brian Baumgartner Talks Kevin Malone, Nine Seasons & Plenty of Poker 101Brian Baumgartner
Baumgartner: I’m extremely proud of the legacy. Not to be too bold, but I feel as though it changed American television. Certainly there are examples that predate us of shows that were looking at things and were innovative like the Larry Sanders Show, or looking at issues like All in the Family, but in terms of our mockumentary style, sort of breaking the mold out of traditional laugh-track sitcoms. I feel like we’ve grew a high-quality show for as you said almost a decade, and I feel tremendously fortunate and proud of the show.

You come from a theater background whereas many of your cast mates have come from either an improv or stand-up background. How were you able to carve out a successful niche for yourself for nine seasons?

I feel like that is in some ways the recipe for our success—the various backgrounds that the ensemble had. As you say, there is a handful of people who came from improve, some comedy people, Rainn Wilson and myself really came from straight theater, if you will. I think the way that the show’s set up and the way the camera’s moving around all the time—we were in a lot of ways just locked in that room. There are no fake walls, you’re just in a confined space with a ceiling. Often we were locked in there with a couple of cameramen and a director behind a desk, and we were sort of forced to be together and play off of each other, and I think the fact that we came from different backgrounds, we just all brought something different to the table.

As an actor, you had the opportunity to grow alongside John Krasinski, Steve Carell, Jenna Fischer and Rainn Wilson. Has this been both professionally and personally fulfilling?

Brian Baumgartner - News - IMDb

We all started as nobodies, and that was sort of part of the idea. Steve Carell, at the time, had been on the Daily Show way before the Daily Show was as cool as it is now and essentially had one supporting role in a movie being Bruce Almighty, and that was kind of it. Rainn had done kind of a recurring drama in Six Feet Under, and that was really it.

So as the show grew, it made us into a strong-knit group. All of the experiences we had, we’re all so fortunate to have them together. I remember in the entire almost ten years, the time we were all the happiest was a bunch of nobodies showing up at the Golden Globes and Steve Carell winning for Best Actor. We were all there in a back room, and when he won we had a huge celebration. His winning was sort of an endorsement of the show and sort of an endorsement of all of us. From that to us sitting around in somebody’s living room every single week virtually for the first few years of the show, watching the show together because we enjoyed each other and enjoyed the show, I think it’s brought us very close, and I think that their relationship with all of us will go on forever.

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