Jim’s proposal to Pam in the Season 5 premiere of “The Office” remains one of the NBC sitcom’s most iconic moments. It also turns out the proposal was the series’ most expensive moment, at least according to cast member Jenna Fischer. During this week’s episode of Fischer and co-star Angela Kinsey’s “Office Ladies” podcast (via Entertainment Weekly), the actress who starred as Pam revealed it cost the production $250,000 to set up and shoot the proposal scene even though it lasts just 52 seconds during the episode.
“So first of all, I just want you guys to know that [showrunner] Greg [Daniels] spoke with us about this,” Fischer said. “He said that he really wanted Jim’s proposal to Pam to be in the season premiere. He thought, number one — that would be unexpected. You usually end seasons with proposals. He said he also wanted to throw people off by having it in a very ordinary location. So, he wanted [it] to feel special, but he also wanted it to feel like Jim made the decision without a whole lot of planning.”
Jim (John Krasinski) proposes to Pam in the parking lot of a gas station, but it wasn’t a real location. According to Fischer, “The Office” production design team built a gas station in nine days “in the parking lot of a Best Buy.” The scene is shot from afar as the camera zooms in on Jim proposing to Pam from across the street of the gas station as cars zoom by in front of the lens. Since the gas station was a set, and not shot at a real location, Fischer said the crafts team “built a four-lane, circular race track around the gas station set. They set up cameras on the other side of this raceway and they had cars drive around it at 55 mph.” And last but not least, visual effects were added to remove the California mountains and include trees found on the East Coast.
“In the end, this was the single most expensive scene ever shot in the entire run of the show,” Fischer added. “It lasts 52 seconds, and it cost $250,000.”
All episodes of “The Office” are now available to stream on NBCUniversal’s streaming platform Peacock.