The Office Secretary
"I don't have real big aspirations to be a movie star. I would love to be on a long-running hit TV show. You end up playing a defining role." Jenna Fischer.
Wife of writer/director James Gunn, Jenna Fischer co-wrote, directed and co-starred (with husband James Gunn) in the independent feature LolliLove in 2004. Since 2005, she has been popular as the sweet but wary receptionist Pam Beesly on NBC's Emmy-winning sitcom/mockumentary "The Office." Recently, she starred in her husband directional debut, the horror/comedy Slither (2006).
The 5' 4½" tall actress who was one of US Weekly's "Hot Hollywood 2006" and People Magazine's “100 Most Beautiful” (2006) will appear in the upcoming comedy films The Brothers Solomon (with Will Arnett and Will Forte), Quebec (alongside John C. Reilly and Sean William Scott), and Blades of Glory (with Will Ferrell and Jon Heder).
Childhood and Family:
Born in Ft. Wayne, Indiana on March 7, 1974, Regina Marie Fischer, who would later be popular as Jenna Fischer, was raised in St. Louis, Missouri, where she attended Nerinx Hall High School in suburban Webster Groves. Her parents are Jim Fischer and Anne Fischer, an acting teacher at an elementary school. Her younger sister, Emily, is also an elementary school teacher. Jenna graduated from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. She originally enrolled as a Pre-Law student, but later changed to Theatre.
At a script reading for The Specials (2000), Jenna met writer/director James Gunn (born August 5, 1970). They exchanged wedding vows on October 7, 2000. The couple currently lives in Los Angeles with their pets: Wesley the dog and Andy the cat.
"I had this crazy job, though, when I first got to Los Angeles...I answered this ad in the back of the newspaper to be a telephone psychic, and I did that for two days. I called up this guy, and...this is how hard it was to get this job: He said, 'So, uh, do you feel intuitive from time to time?' And I was like, 'Yea, sure, I feel intuitive.' He said, 'Do you read Tarot cards?' And I said, 'I DO!' and I didn't." Jenna Fischer (on her stint as a telephone psychic).
A daughter of an acting teacher, Jenna Fischer began studying acting since the age of 6. At age 10 years old, she snagged the role of Toto in her school play “The Wizard of Oz.” And after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater from Truman State University, she moved to Los Angeles. In the new destination, she took various odd jobs including as a telephone psychic.
In 2000, Fischer landed a bit part as a college girl in Craig Mazin-directed comedy movie about a group of superheroes on their day off, The Specials, which was written and starred by her future husband James Gunn. The next year, she was spotted as a guest in a March 2001 episode of ABC sitcom "Spin City" and appeared in the pilot episode of Fox's half-hour dramedy/sitcom "Undeclared" (she later reappeared in its 4th episode of season 1). She was also seen in Chris Hall's 3-minute film Picking Up Chicks with Harland Williams (2001) and Peter Alton's 11-minute black-and-white film Superficiales, Les (2002).
Afterward, Fischer worked mainly on television. She appeared on the comedy TV movie Rubbing Charlie (2003; starring Scott Wolf) and made guest appearances on WB and CTV's comedy "Off Centre," WB sitcom "What I Like About You," Lifetime's medical drama "Strong Medicine" and NBC's dramedy "Miss Match." She also appeared in an episode of CBS' drama "Cold Case," Fox's sitcom "That '70s Show" and had a recurring role on HBO's popular and critically acclaimed drama comedy "Six Feet Under" (as Rico's date).
On the big screen, she was seen in comedy writer Bob Odenkirk's directorial debut, Melvin Goes to Dinner (2003), adapted from Michael Blieden's play "Phyro-Giants!" and in the dark comedy starring Matt Dillon and Christina Applegate, Employee of the Month (2004). She also appeared in Rory Kelly's short comedy The Women (2004), which won runner-up for Best Film and Best Cast in Instant Film Festival #14.
Fischer co-wrote, directed and starred in the mockumentary LolliLove (2004), which centers a wealthy young Hollywood couple endeavor to help the homeless by giving them lollipops with a cheery slogan on the wrapper. The film, also starring Fischer’s husband James Gunn, premiered at the St. Louis International Film Festival in November 2004 and has played in numerous other film festivals.
Being asked about her experience on the low-budget independent feature, Fischer revealed: “The directing was exhausting and the writing was painful. It was very difficult to direct and star in a movie. We also had a very small crew so I did a lot of things a normal director doesn’t have to do, like make the props and serve lunch. I was simultaneously getting into character, going over my lines, set dressing the next shot, coaching an actor, and brainstorming with my D.P. I’m good at multitasking, but that was too much for me. I couldn’t enjoy any one part the way I would have liked. I think I’ll stick to acting.”
In 2005, Fischer nabbed her most popular TV role to date, as the sweet but wary receptionist Pam Beesly, on NBC's Emmy-winning sitcom/mockumentary "The Office." On receiving the casting call for “The Office,” she recalled: "She goes, 'Dare to BORE me.' And I'm like, 'Really?' I'm like, 'I'll bore you. I will seriously, I will go and I will be ugly, and I will bore you.' Am I selling my show? Ugly, boring people - check it out!"
During her “Office” stint, Fischer was also cast in Chris Hall's romantic comedy Lucky 13 and in Judd Apatow's romantic comedy film starring Steve Carell, The 40-Year-Old Virgin (both in 2005). In 2006, she starred in her husband James Gunn's directorial debut, the horror/comedy Slither, which was a box office bomb.
As for her upcoming film projects, Fischer will appear in three comedy films: The Brothers Solomon (starring Will Arnett and Will Forte; helmed by Bob Odenkirk), Quebec, which follows two grocery store managers (John C. Reilly and Sean William Scott), and Blades of Glory, which centers two rival Olympic ice skaters (Will Ferrell and Jon Heder).
"I had real potential. But my goal was to be...adequate. I didn't want to be an extraordinary receptionist, because I didn't ever want to be promoted, or be given more work. My time was really valuable to me. For example, I could type 80 words per minute, but I wouldn't tell people that, so when my boss would give me work, he would think it'd take two hours, but it would really only take about thirty minutes. So I'd have, like, ninety minutes of fun time. I got it all done, I just did it...real slow." Jenna Fischer.