If nothing else of worth ever came out of the short-lived Michael Scott Paper Company, at least we got Erin. The receptionist might have joined The Office as a replacement for Pam, but she quickly turned into Dunder Mifflin's most awkward little moonbeam. As played by comedian Ellie Kemper, Erin is so up for anything and aware of nothing that she should be impossibly irritating. But with zero ability to edit herself, Erin just keeps tossing her endlessly squirm-worthy musings out there. (Explaining why she covered her face with her hair during a panic moment: "In the foster home, my hair was my room.") Erin still gets excited by staff meetings, is deeply impressed by Dwight's knowledge of The Lord of the Rings, and was too awed by Andy to realize he's madly in love with her. "She wants to see the best in everything, but, my gosh – I don't know how her mind works sometimes," says Kemper.
Kemper, 31, grew up in St. Louis and went to Princeton before heading to New York to try to make it as a comedian. Her dreams were crushed when she didn't get cast after auditioning for both Parks and Recreation and SNL. ("It was a blessing for the viewers," she says. "Impressions are not my forte.") On The Office, one of the things she likes most about Erin are the blank spots in her résumé. "There's a lot about Erin's past we don't know," she notes. "We shot a B plot once where we learn she has epilepsy, but it wound up being cut."
By Andy Greene