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How Kathy Bates once made the entire cast of 'The Office' nervous

Kathy Bates is a legend of the acting game. Over her long career, she has consistently raised the bar of all those around her, which is a testament to her rare quality.

Famously, Bates started life on Broadway, and this gave her the background she needed to dazzle with such a plethora of memorable performances on the big screen. Bates’ list of credits speaks for itself and clearly displays that there is nothing she cannot do regarding character acting.

Whilst Bates has delivered a string of iconic roles in the likes of Titanic, The Waterboy, Fried Green Tomatoes and American Horror Story, none is more important than that of the chillingly psychotic Annie Wilkes in the 1990 Stephen King adaptation Misery. Arguably the greatest on-screen Stephen King villain of all time, the power of her performance leaves an indelible imprint on everyone who has seen it, with even the great Anthony Hopkins stating: “I think Kathy Bates in Misery is the most brilliant piece of mad acting I’ve ever seen”. 

Given that Bates’ reputation precedes her, more often than not, those in the cast of her projects are anxious about meeting her in person. This was most felt on season 6 of the American version of The Office, when Bates was the guest star as Jo Bennett, the CEO of Sabre, the company that buys Dunder Mifflin. It transpires that most of the cast and crew were so nervous that they felt intimidated by the Hollywood star. 

In Andy Greene’s book, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, Kate Flannery, who played Meredith Palmer, revealed her apprehension about working with Bates. She said: “Kathy Bates was intimidating initially. I’m a huge fan, so in my mind I was trying to get the movie Misery out of my head; my God. But eventually she did warm up and was lovely, but I think it was daunting on both sides initially.”

However, this was unfounded, as the ever-humble Bates was equally as nervous about meeting her new colleagues as she knew she was coming into a “well-oiled machine”. This account comes from the editor of The Office, Claire Scanlon, who recalled: “I remember when Kathy Bates spoke, her voice was trembling at first. We were shocked. We were so excited to be working with freaking Kathy… She said, ‘You guys are like a well-oiled machine; it is daunting coming into this group.'”

Everything went smoothly, with the show’s producer Randy Cordray confirming what we knew all along: “She was a total professional and a dear, sweet woman.”