Amy Poehler Nearly Played Jan in The Office

Credit: NBC

I know we can’t believe it either! Amy Poehler is best known for playing Leslie in NBC’s Parks and Recreation. But the star was intended to play another role in a very similar NBC comedy The Office!

We all know and love Amy Poehler’s character in Parks and Recreation, a series about Pawnee, Indiana. An IMDb synopsis describes the series as so:

“Leslie Knope, a mid-level bureaucrat in an Indiana Parks and Recreation Department, hopes to beautify her town (and boost her own career) by helping local nurse Ann Perkins turn an abandoned construction site into a community park. However, what should be a fairly simple project is stymied at every turn by oafish bureaucrats, selfish neighbors, governmental red tape, and a myriad of other challenges. Leslie’s colleague Tom Haverford, who delights in exploiting his position for personal gain, is as likely to undermine her efforts as to help her, while her boss, Ron Swanson, is adamantly opposed to government in any form, even though he’s a bureaucrat”.

Leslie in Parks and Recreation
Credit: NBC

The Office/ Parks and Recreation could have been very different!

But the main character of Parks and Recreation may have been played by a completely different character. Amy Poehler almost played a key supporting character in The Office. The actress very nearly played Jan Levinson, Michael Scott’s love interest/ Dinner Party enemy! At the time, Poehler was a rising comedic actress when The Office aired in 2005. She was up for the role of Jan before creator Greg Daniels decided to have Melora Hardin play Jan instead. We guess it worked out for the best – we would never have Leslie in Parks and Rec if not!

Early stages of Parks and Rec development planned for the show to serve only as a spinoff to The Office. Rashida Jones provided a connection to both shows. And at the time it was planned for the actress to play the same character in each series. But the creators believed Parks and Recreation could be a stand-alone show, which is where Amy Poehler comes to mind. With Daniels previously ready to cast her for Jan, he believed she would have been a better fit as the government employee. Isn’t it crazy to think how different it could have all been!

jan and Michael in The Office
Credit: NBC