'I Didn't Know How Special It Was': The Scene In 'The Office' Finale That Broke The Cast

4 January 2020 | 12:44 pm | Daniel Cribb

Dunder Mifflin quality assurance director-turned-touring musician Creed Bratton knows a thing or two about resilience. He tells Daniel Cribb about the long and trying path to hit series 'The Office' and his now-successful solo music career.

Creed Bratton in 'The Office'

Creed Bratton in 'The Office'

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For Creed Bratton, who portrayed a fictionalised version of himself – albeit a twisted one – in The Office, the season's nine-season success was a kind of long-delayed gratification. 

Bratton got his start in the music industry as the lead guitarist for rock legends The Grass Roots back in the ‘60s. After recording three albums with the group, he left the band to try and kickstart a solo career. “I kept getting really close to it in my younger, good-looking days,” Bratton says. “Then, as I started losing my hair and getting old, I was thinking, ‘I think this rockstar thing may have passed.’”

After numerous false starts, he shifted his creativity to another outlet and began studying the Meisner approach to acting, which “turned out to be a good move”.

“There was many times where people would come up to me and look at me like, ‘You had your 15 minutes of fame.’ But I’ve got to tell you, I never bought into it. I always had a mental picture of myself achieving far more,” Bratton says. “So I'd nod at them and say, ‘Yep,’ but deep down I was going, ‘No, I'm not done yet.’ I knew I wasn't. I didn't know how, I just felt it… So when the opportunity arose to get on The Office, I jumped on it. I was not letting that one slip by.”

"I always had a mental picture of myself achieving far more." 

Even after he booked the gig as Dunder Mifflin Scranton’s head of quality assurance in 2005, Bratton wasn’t out of the woods – the show was almost cancelled in its early days.

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“Everyone went back to their day jobs,” he tells. “Then they came to give us a few more episodes and a second season. Then all of a sudden that lightning in a bottle hit with streaming. When people started streaming the show that was enough for them to order more episodes.”

The show quickly set itself apart from its UK counterpart headed by Ricky Gervais, and Creed Bratton swiftly became a fan favourite after his first major role in the show during season two’s Halloween episode, where Steve Carell’s Michael Scott tries to fire him.

“When they gave me the Halloween episode, it wasn't like, ‘Oh my God, I better dust off my acting chops.’ No. I'd been in class. I was ready to go,” he explains. “Working with Steve Carell, who is just brilliant, he made it easy for me. That was it. When I did the Halloween episode I was in.

“A lot of that is ad-libbing. I never really ad-libbed after that because they started writing all this amazing stuff. Then the Creed character got really dark… Pretty soon I'm murdering people for God's sakes and stealing all this stuff. It was a great character to play.”

Flash-forward to the show’s emotional finale in 2013 and Bratton plays a pivotal role in its final minutes, performing a song he had written right after leaving The Grassroots in the 1970s, All The Faces, in a beautiful full-circle moment.

“It was an out-of-body experience,” Bratton recalls. “We couldn't find where to put the microphone for the guitar because I had an acoustic guitar and we had to mic it. [John Krasinski] held the shotgun mic under his arm. You can't see it, he's got his arms crossed. Underneath his arm is a microphone pointed right at the soundhole of my guitar. 

"I remember singing the song. I'm singing the song and looking around and everybody is there. Phyllis is crying, Angela's crying, Jen is crying. The song does it, it touches the heartstrings. At the time I felt it was special, but I didn't even know until I saw the finale how special it was, how well it worked. It works so well and lucky me, you know?”

The Office can be compared to a well-written album in many ways; fans can relate to the story and characters in the same way they can relate to lyrics and musicians, they quote the show as opposed to singing along, and can watch it over and over again.

“I think that's very astute,” Bratton enthuses. “It's got heart. It's a love story surrounded by these characters that toward the end got all fleshed out. We knew each person's story and we had great writers. Who knew that these people would become these iconic characters?”

Bratton certainly wasn’t expecting it to be as big as it was in the beginning, certainly not to the point where he’d be able to tour the world with his music and visit Australia in his 70s.

“It's pretty darn great,” he says. “I'm a happy camper. I’m currently recording my ninth studio album as we speak, Slightly Altered,” he says. “I'm hoping to have it by my birthday in February when I come down [to Australia].

“I'm doing songs now from the new album live when I perform. I always go out on tour, play the songs and judge the audience response. So I tweak the song every night to get it to where I think it's recordable. That'll be the case with this one. I'm pretty sure it'll be ready to go. That's the plan.”