Die Hard made $137 million at the worldwide box office, turned Bruce Willis a bona fide movie star and earned legions of adoring fans. But you won't catch The Office's Ellie Kemper screaming "Yippee-ki-yay!" anytime soon.
"I saw the clips and I saw enough," she tells TVGuide.com with a laugh. "I could say for The Sound of Music and A League of Their Own - like, 'How have you not seen those movies?!' But I don't feel that connection to Die Hard. No offense to Bruce Willis."
That won't stop Kemper's Office alter-ego from at least trying to get into the 1988 action classic on the NBC comedy's Christmas episode (Thursday at 9/8c). "Pete learns that Erin hasn't seen Die Hard and this is one of his favorite movies," she says. "Pete can recite all the lines. When we were on set, all the guys knew all the lines to Die Hard."
The move is a big step forward for Pete (Jake Lacy) and Erin, who have become fast friends since he joined Dunder Mifflin, and especially since Erin's boyfriend Andy (Ed Helms) set sail. "I think it's really important in terms of Erin's maturity to have someone else to relate to," Kemper says. "In a surprising way, Erin is craving a more mature relationship that doesn't depend on acting on a whim. Andy and Erin have a lot of cute, but very childish bits that they do with each other. With Pete, it's more of a mature relationship. He's calm and sincere with her in a way that maybe Andy isn't always. ... There's a sense of stability with Pete that could be attractive to Erin."
So will John McClane save the day and ultimately push these two past the friend zone? "I do think it brings them closer because she's amused by this and its fun and she gets a kick out of it," Kemper says. "Then she receives some news while they're watching this that inevitably brings them closer for the moment."
Kemper is tight-lipped about what exactly the news is, but she hints that there are "bumps" ahead for some of the show's key relationships. "There are some very dark moments in this episode," she says. "But I think that's what the writers do so well - combining those darker, sad moments with an overall sense of camaraderie and the sense of, 'We're going to get through this.'"
Behind the scenes, the Christmas episode also packed an extra punch as it was the last one ever for the departing show. "I feel like I might be expected to say this because it is the last one, but I truly I love this episode so much," Kemper says. "I specifically love Dwight's storyline. He brings in his family Christmas traditions. I've always held Dwight as one of my favorite characters and now 'Dwight Christmas' just takes it to a new level."
Kemper admits there were some sentimental feelings filming The Office's last Christmas episode, but there has been one big upside to Season 9: the return of creator Greg Daniels. Daniels resumed his showrunning duties this season after taking a step back to work on other shows back in Season 4. "I really appreciate how much he wanted my own contribution to what this potentially new love interest for Erin should be like and how this affects Erin," Kemper says. "Erin has a habit of saying dumb things and not thinking things through, but at the end of the day, I do want to think of her as a three-dimensional character that has room to mature and develop. So, I think that is such a nice thing to happen in the final season and he spear-headed that."
Kemper may be plenty busy juggling two love interests, but she still found time to film a guest spot on the Christmas episode of The Mindy Project (Tuesday at 9:30/8:30c on Fox) opposite Office alum Mindy Kaling. "Mindy plays a very different character from Kelly Kapoor on her new show and I get to play a very different character from Erin," Kemper says. "Mindy loves Christmas episodes, and I love Christmas episodes, so getting these two things together was such a dream for me."
The episode not only marked a reunion for the "Subtle Sexuality" duo, but also for Kemper and Tommy Dewey, who recurs as Mindy's boyfriend, Josh, and with whom Kemper used to perform improv in college. "I felt more like I was in a play because it's not documentary style," Kemper says. "It was a totally fun and different format for me, but I also loved that group over there. You can tell that they're having fun. Maybe I can go back."
With The Office wrapping this spring, Kemper will soon have plenty of time to return to The Mindy Project - as well as explore other paths. "I've been thinking about that a lot," she says. "I'm excited to read scripts this January and February and see what is out there. I think television is getting better and better. I would love to keep working in television, possibly next year, I hope."
The Office airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC. Are you excited for the final Christmas episode? Do you think Erin should be with Andy or Pete? Sound off below!
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