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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Brian Baumgartner and Oscar Nuñez share advice with UF students

‘The Office’ co-stars were the first in-person Accent guests in almost two years

<p>UF journalism professor Ted Spiker (center) moderates a conversation with ACCENT Speakers Bureau guests Brian Baumgartner (left) and Oscar Nuñez (right) on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. The event is the first fully in-person Accent event since October 10, 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. </p>

UF journalism professor Ted Spiker (center) moderates a conversation with ACCENT Speakers Bureau guests Brian Baumgartner (left) and Oscar Nuñez (right) on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. The event is the first fully in-person Accent event since October 10, 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dressed in Dunder Mifflin Inc. T-shirts and masks, UF students eagerly applauded two stars of the hit NBC show “The Office” from the stands of the O’Connell Center. 

Brian Baumgartner and Oscar Nuñez, who play Kevin Malone and Oscar Martinez in the show, took the stage 7 p.m. Wednesday at Accent’s first in-person event since Donald Trump Jr.’s speech in October 2019. The show was the third event of Great Gator Welcome as students began Summer B classes. 

Brian Baumgartner and Oscar Nuñez, who play Kevin Malone and Oscar Martinez in the show, took the stage 7 p.m. Wednesday at Accent’s first in-person event since Donald Trump Jr.’s speech in October 2019. The show was the third event of Great Gator Welcome as students began Summer B classes.

The actors entertained students with insider information from their time on “The Office.” They talked about some of Baumgartner’s and Nuñez’s well-known scenes and their advice to freshmen entering UF.

The $70,000 show featured a 45-minute moderated conversation and 15-minute Q&A session. The show was mediated by Department of Journalism Professor and Chair Ted Spiker, who the actors referred to as “The Professor” throughout the show. 

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Oscar Nuñez greets the audience at the ACCENT Speakers event inside the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.

The event was a partnership of Accent Speakers Bureau, Student Government Productions and Student Activities and Involvement to bring the lighthearted show to nearly 6,000 students filling the O’Connell Center. 

When asked for their advice for UF’s incoming freshmen, Nuñez jokingly told them to not buy drugs from strangers. He followed up with a sincere answer. 

“Be kind to each other, help each other,” Nuñez said. “Seriously guys, take care of each other.”

When recording the episode “Casual Friday,” in which Baumgartner’s character spills a tub of chili, directors told him there were only three carpets for him to spill chili on: he only had three tries to get the scene right.

“They were so concerned about the carpet, they didn’t give a s--- about me,” Baumgartner said. 

He was able to complete the scene in one take, but he smelled like chili for the rest of the day. 

In the episode “Gay Witch Hunt,” Nuñez explained a scene where leading character Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell, is hugging Oscar. After the fourth take, Carell decides that the scene is too appropriate for a show like “The Office” and decides to kiss Nuñez on the lips instead. 

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“It went from a flat scene to a really ridiculous typical Office scene,” Nuñez said. 

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Ryan Bergman (left), a marine science junior at the University of Florida, and Macie Goldfarb, a journalism junior (right), cheer and applaud when they see Brian Baumgartner from The Office at the ACCENT Speakers event on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.

During the Q&A, students could submit questions to Spiker after scanning the QR code on the video screens. Students asked about how their characters would react to COVID-19; the crowd reacted with a low “ooh.”

“I would have been really happy,” Baumgartner said, joking about not having to wear any pants when working.

Nuñez, whose character is known for being a know-it-all, said his character would be volunteering at a vaccination clinic. To which Baumgartner joked: “or talked about how you should and not actually.”

The actors also recalled the memorable — or not so memorable — items they took home from the set after the TV series ended in 2013. 

In the series, Michael Scott said Kevin Malone was not an outstanding accountant but a great entertainer. Baumgartner said he was holding a giant pencil when recording the scene to make Carell laugh. He took home that pencil, his name plate and his iconic giant bowl of M&M’s.

“I took a pair of shoes and some clothing,” Nuñez said. 

Interrupting Nuñez’s explanation to the laughing audience, Baumgartner told him he shouldn’t try to sound smart now. 

After a decade of working together, NBC took his dignity, Nuñez said. So he took their shoes. 

Talking to Baumgartner and then the audience he said, “I’m here. Are we friends? Yes. Do we know each other? Maybe. Do I like you? Supposedly. But we're here and we're here for you kids and that's what's important, not what I took or didn’t take.”

Gabriela Cortes-Arroyo, an 18-year-old finance freshman, was invited to the stage when her question was read aloud. She wanted to see Baumgartner’s signature Kool-Aid face, which he requested she attempt in front of the audience. They cheered at her replication. Fist-bumping Baumgartner, she went back to her seat. 

“I was replaying the scenes in my head with my brother and his girlfriend before we came here thinking about all the funny moments that these two actors were in, and that was one moment that stood out to us,” Cortes-Arroyo said. “I didn't think that would ever happen... my heart was rushing so it was great.” 

The event enticed Zaniab Ali to come an hour early to attend the show. 

“Yesterday is when I found out and I started freaking out because this was the first time I ever seen a celebrity in person,” the 20-year-old graphic design senior said. “I was so excited that they were bringing them, especially because it was like one of my favorite shows.” 

When asked what his favorite “that’s what she said” joke was on the show, Nuñez said it was in the episode “Gay Witch Hunt” when Scott through his office window saw Nuñez’s character Oscar being picked up by his onscreen boyfriend.

Baumgartner said he doesn’t use the joke often, but he thinks about it over seven times a day. 

“Something, something, something that’s what she said or that’s what he said,'' Nuñez said — emphasizing on “he said.”

At Spiker’s closing remarks, Nuñez’s kept repeating the phrase, “that’s what she said,” to the amusement of the audience

“Let me know when they finish,” Spiker said.

“That’s what she said,” Nuñez replied. 

Contact Isabella Douglas at idouglas@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @Ad_Scribendum

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Isabella Douglas

Isabella Douglas is a second-year journalism major and the criminal justice reporter for The Alligator's Metro desk. She previously worked as a news assistant for The Alligator's University team and as a contributing writer for the New Tampa & Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News. When she isn't reporting, she can be found reorganizing her bookshelf and adding books to her ever-growing TBR.


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