Everyone knows that Kelly Kapoor and Ryan Howard belong together — even if their story seemingly ended when Kelly left Scranton to be with handsome doctor Ravi at the beginning of The Office‘s ninth season.
So it’s a good thing that the actors behind Ryan and Kelly will get one more shot at happiness on The Mindy Project. B.J. Novak — an executive producer of the Fox comedy’s pilot, as well as a consulting producer throughout its first season — is guest-starring tonight and next Tuesday as Jaime, a Latin professor Novak calls “the man version of what [Mindy Kaling’s character] dated on The Office.” There’s just one problem with the charismatic classicist: his unusually close friendship with Lucy (Eva Amurri Martino), which makes Mindy feel like “the side character in their romantic comedy.”
To any Mindy Kaling fans, this scenario should sound familiar — Novak and Kaling have enjoyed a close friendship (and an on-again off-again romance) since both were hired to work at The Office in 2004. Here’s what the multihyphenate had to say about exploring his relationship with Mindy for her new comedy — as well as his plans to return to Scranton for The Office‘s imminent series finale.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Was your arc on the show inspired by your friendship with Mindy?
B.J. NOVAK: I don’t know that it’s a direct analogy, but it’s definitely inspired by our relationship. We are pretty inseparable best friends with a lot of chemistry ourselves, and we’re not dating. Whenever we date anyone else, I think there’s a period where the person is very skeptical of our friendship — “Everyone seems to think you two might be a couple, and I don’t mean to get in the way. Are you sure you’re not dating? Are you sure you’re not going to end up dating?” It’s such a common thing to have that platonic best friend that becomes a little weird when you start dating someone.