After seven long seasons watching “The Office,” viewers finally get to meet Andy Bernard’s brother on tonight’s “Garden Party” episode, when the cast leaves Dunder Mifflin for a field trip to Schrute Farms. And who better to play the younger brother of Ed Helms’s character — the preppy, Ivy League-educated, a cappella-singing “Nard Dog” — than Josh Groban?
In anticipation of his “Office” debut, the singer-songwriter joined a few journalists on a conference call this morning to describe his character, Walter Jr., tease tonight’s Bernard family musical showdown and discuss the possibility of returning to the Dunder Mifflin fold.
“Andy is the first born which is usually the favorite son,” Groban started, referring to the Bernard family genealogy. “But for whatever reason, being second born, I somehow stole his name from him. He was originally going to be Walter Jr. and then they made [my character] Walter Jr. and he kind of wound up being the more happy-go-lucky, very successful, almost fell up in a way [brother]. Of course [Walter Jr.] likes to sing, he’s very successful in business and can do no wrong in the eyes of his parents. This episode shows some of that naivety and it shows some of the back story as to why Andy grew up to be overt showman he tries to be.”
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And with one overt showman in the family and two skilled singers, can we expect a Schrute Farm sing-off?
“I think this episode definitely shows where a bit of the competitive — Andy’s always had that thing where if you have a guitar or any kind of opportunity to sing at the office, he will,” Groban said carefully, trying not to give too much away.” I think this episode definitely shows where that kind of ‘get it in while I can’ mentality comes from. I think this episode definitely shows a tremendous musical rivalry in the family, not only between Andy and my character Walter Jr. but with the patriarch, our father, played by Stephen Collins, is quite musical. [...] The musical tapestry of the Bernard family comes to life for sure.”
As for the future of the Bernard family, onscreen at least, Groban was not too sure.
“If the character develops, it would be a great joy to have more scenes with them. [The entire cast] is really so brilliant to watch.”
Groban also took time to reveal his dream television gig, describe how he got started in acting
and explain the way his real-life relationship with his brother informed his “Office” role.
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On His Dream Television Job: “I’d love to play someone really bad on ‘Breaking Bad.’ That would be really fun for me. I’d love to play a drug dealer or something. That would be really, really fun. I’m completely obsessed with that series.”
On How He Got Started Acting: “When I was young, I was very interested in theater so I think what got me into acting was that I hoped to be a theater actor at one point. I was really fascinated with classical theater and Shakespeare and I loved improv. When I was in 8th or 9th grade, I joined an improv troupe in L.A. and just started getting into those comedy sports and flexing that muscle a bit. I eventually went on to a wonderful high school called Los Angeles County High School For the Arts and studied theater there. Before I was signed to my record label, I was a freshman at Carnegie Mellon for musical theater. Acting was definitely at least half of what I wanted to accomplish in the arts. When music took over, it was an amazing fork in the road.”
How His Own Relationship With His Brother Informed This Role: “I adore my brother to death. He is one of my favorite people on Earth. We are the best of friends. We’re both in the entertainment industry. I’m in the music business and he is a film director and editor but the dynamic, especially when you are exactly four years apart and you have to share a birthday [they were both born on February 27] from the age of four on — it was one of those things when we are 10 and 14, it was a little bit awkward. After that, we were able to kind of settle into our ages. Now we can go out and have a beer and talk about anything. Especially with him watching the ridiculously early success that I had and the fact that he kept his own head and kept his blinders on and really kicked butt in his own way and his own world — now we collaborate all the time. He’s directing a music video for me next week. I’ve composed some music for some of his films.”