Our Exclusive Interview with Mindy Kaling and Ellie Kemper of “The Office”
I was honored to recently talk to Mindy Kaling and Ellie Kemper who play Kelly Kapoor and Erin Hannon (respectively) on NBC’s The Office. The duo recently paired up with the likes of “Mr. Understood” (B.J. Novak as Ryan Howard) and “Nard Dog” (Ed Helms as Andy Bernard) for their Subtle Sexuality music video Male Prima Donna. The webisodes and the music video have both had major success and it looks like there will be a followup, according to Kaling. I chased these fiercely funny gals down to chat about the bonds of friendship, online shopping, and the real deal behind Ellie’s singing chomps.
Do you think Kelly and Erin are destined to be BFF’s for a long time, or is an epic fight like Paris and Nicole’s inevitable?
Ellie Kemper (E): I think the later, for sure.
Mindy Kaling (M): I think that their dynamic is getting so intense that it’s heading for some spectacular blowup.
E: That will be the minute that Kelly decides when Erin does something that she can’t stand, or that is unacceptable. But I also don’t think they won’t get back together.
M: I literally think that if Erin were to look too pretty one day that Kelly would get so jealous and say “It’s over. We’re not friends anymore”.
E: Right. There have been a couple of like, minor scuffles. Is that the word – scuffle?…
M: Yea. Totally.
E: …That haven’t led to a blowup just yet. And some of them have not been seen by the viewers.
M: Erin is pretty easygoing but Kelly’s vanity might envy their friendship a little bit.
E: Perhaps – although I can’t see how Erin wouldn’t run to repair any wrongdoing she’d done. But definitely I think there could be a fight.
M: We could write a thesis about it and talk about this for another hour and a half.
But you guys obviously get along really well behind the scenes. Am I right? (Note: It become very clear that they’re close as the interview carried on, they have an easy-going, complimentary nature around each other.)
E: For the most part. (Both laugh)
M: We’ll have this thing where we’ll be talking and she’ll be like “Hold on, hold on!”
E: I have a lot of things going on, so I’ll have to be like “Hold on, Mindy – hold on!!” But we get along aside from me having to tell her to hold on.
If there was a Kelly Doll and an Erin doll, what would their accessories be?
M: What a great question…
E: I think Kelly would have a series of wigs. Erin would have like, a backpack or a fanny pack.
M: I feel like Erin would have different cargo pants. Cargo pants in awesome colors. I think she is less girly …she obviously likes romance and is a woman.
E: She’s not a tomboy, but she would have a different idea of what a great fashion accessory would be.
M: I feel like she’s more classic.
E: Yea, but not very cool.
M: Maybe different L.L. back packs.
Mindy, I know you love to online shop – Ellie I don’t know if you do. But what was your last online purchase that you’ll reveal?
M: I could shop all day. I just bought a leather jacket from (unclear) which is a designer discount website. I’m very excited for it to arrive.
E: I don’t know what I last bought online. I think a plane ticket. I’m bad at shopping.
M: I also donated $30.00 to the World Wildlife Federation yesterday.
E: I just gave a lot of money away to an international fund. But you got a leather jacket, that’s cool. (Both Laugh)
Everyone wants to know if Subtle Sexuality will put out any more music videos. Because there is a demand for them.
E: I hope so. I have no say. But I hope so.
M: We had so much fun making the video – Ellie, Ed Helms, and B.J. Novak. It’s not like anything we get to do on a normal show. And the four of us at our heart love singing and we love dancing. And Greg Daniels told me on Friday that he’d love for us to do more.
E: I don’t think I knew that. That would be incredible. I feel like there has to be a follow-up song. Right?
M: I think an Andy ballad would be really funny. And maybe B.J. doing some R&B singing.
Mindy, I know that you were in your college A Capella group. And we’ve seen the behind the scenes footage of you guys practicing. Were you both confident to sing or were you nervous?
M: I’ve always said that my voice is like – I think I can carry a tune. I have a good enough voice to do a comedy. I’m not a singer, but I can carry a comedy tune. You know how Jimmy Fallon has a comedy voice? But you wouldn’t say…
E: (Interrupts) You have a good voice though. When you were in the singing for the video itself you had a good voice. When you were doing Karaoke for a later episode you had a good voice. I didn’t know you were in an A Capella group!
M: Oh, yea. I love singing. But I don’t have like a very epic range. I think that so many people identity as singers but I would never do it…like, I can’t read sheet music.
E: I thought I could carry a tune, and then in that preview clip they showed on NBC.com they like, set me up. I was like, ‘I think I can carry a tune okay’ and then they cut to me going, “Oooohh, Ooooh!”.
M: I agree with you. It was like a little bit of a smash cut to you at the one point where you sounded a little bit like a goose singing. (Both laugh)
E: I was like, Oh! I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me, but I don’t know why…
M: They were like, “You think you’re a pretty good singer?” – “Yea, I think I’m pretty good.” – “Oh really? Well, we have footage!”
Were there any other names considered for Subtle Sexuality?
M: I think B.J. Novak was the one who pitched Subtle Sexuality. I don’t think there’s any other names. And I love the name so much.
We love the costumes in Subtle Sexuality, and some people on Twitter even posted pictures of themselves dressing up like you guys. What was your favorite costume to wear in the music video?
E: My favorite one was the pirate.
M: Yes, I would say that I really loved to wear that eye patch.
You rocked the eyepatch.
The Office airs on NBC, Thursdays at 8 p.m.