Writer Paul Lieberstein (The Newsroom, King of the Hill) discusses the origins of his character Toby Flenderson and how Greg Daniels got him in front of the camera, on the two-hundred and twenty-seventh Box Angeles podcast w/ host Mike ‘Box’ Elder.
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[Original air date — 5/14/18]
okay so how does the Toby character come about did you always want to do is that something that was thrown was that something that was thrown into the that Greg wanted you to do or I had this idea that it would be good and interesting for the writers to know what it was like on set okay and for a lot of shows there's this kind of firewall set up between the writers and the actor sure where you know they chat amicably but they're really not supposed to chat about the show and you're kind of going out of school and you know things supposed to go through the showrunner if they're gonna get to an actor you know and couldn't had it kind of a side effective I think sometimes distancing the two and creating you know some animosity sometimes yeah of course so I think I think Greg Andy that basket but I think he intentionally wanted to you know break that down a little bit I like that yeah he was great so basically he just decided these there should be some ancillary characters that are also the writers in the show no no it was really for the experience of being having going on set once oh and then it took out the the president then president of a network Kevin Reilly saw the dailies and saw what I was doing and and liked it right invite I think even backing up before that I was filling in for some characters we all the writers filled in for some characters at the table reads before they were before they were all cast right that's great and and I was just getting some laughs okay so we did it and and then the yeah the Kevin Reilly thought I was funny interests ask for more so we did more and then I don't think any of us really stop to appreciate how much of a character anyone is who is just sitting there because most shows don't have that kind of level reality that you could just switch up the background right but but we did and so that means if someone was sitting there they're in the show your season regular yeah that background actor it's the season regular that was a story at Crete he was a stand-in who was also doing background and and then that was it it was on the show so were you like what was your feeling when they when the president says no we need more Toby were you nervous were you excited because you haven't really performed it all up until this point yeah but I also didn't even think I was performing I was just kidding out that I think I was like alright so you didn't have time didn't be nervous he didn't even care you just like I guess I was a little nervous but I remember the first time I acted with Steve Carell where I think it was diversity day and he kicked me out of a conference room and but we had stayed up most of the night on a rewrite for for something else and so I might have slept like a couple hours in a trailer or something yeah so I got to set and I was just all I was it's just exhausted yeah barely memorizing my one line and and then I didn't know he was going to improvise Oh funny that's true no but I was like I didn't know what he was doing I was so inexperienced as an actor I just said give the whole thing so little thought that's amazing what what that's you don't get on-the-job training like that very often I feel no no I went to like the office acting school it was amazing that's a great school I was it different it was a great school was that the same thing with Mindy with so many of them many was into acting already okay she had done plays she had done but she was also a writer at the time though right okay