As we roll into the end of NBC’s “30 Rock“ this week, XfinityTV.com got Jack McBrayer — otherwise known as page-turned-janitor-turned network executive Kenneth — to talk about everything from his uncertain early days on the show to his potential future in the food service industry.
Since we’ve know for a couple of years that this season was going to be the last for 30 Rock, we were all prepared for the end. To be honest, we never expected it to last this long. We realized we were underdogs and had to keep proving ourselves. Even after the pilot, I remember thinking, “This might be it. It’s the last time I’ll see this people. Enjoy the yogurt-covered pretzels at the craft service table because you may never see those again either.”
But we did make it for seven seasons, so for those last couple of weeks when we were shooting the last two episodes, I was constantly reflecting all my time on the show. I thought about getting my start in TV at Rockefeller Center. I’d done a few things in Chicago, but when I moved to New York in 2002, I started doing bits at Conan O’Brien’s show. I’d be there saying, “I hope I can get a job here someday and a decade later, here I am.”
While we weren’t surprised by the end of the show, there was such a sense of finality when we were doing the last episodes. People were crying all the time for the two or three weeks leading up to shooting them and I remember feeling this sense of closure, that it really was the end. Everyone was crying, not all at the same time. People got emotional over different things. Jane Krakowski was crying because she hated her wardrobe….just kidding!
Watch the latest episode of “30 Rock:”
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I remember all the times when I realized this would be the last this or the last that. It’s my last scene with Tracy (Morgan). It’s the last time I’ll ever hear Alec (Baldwin) yell that it’s too hot in the studio. It’s the last time we ever have lunch together and watch the upcoming episode, which was something we did a lot. It’s the last free haircut I’ll ever have. I had to get them because Kenneth’s hair always had to look the same. Now I guess I can have hair options, although I’m afraid to examine my hairline up there. Maybe I can market some clip-on bangs like Kenneth’s, now that I’m looking for things to do.
I didn’t see everyone’s last scene. I definitely remember mine. It was a moment where all the writers came down from their room, along with the crew, and gave me a little farewell. At that moment, you’re expected to give a little speech but I was crying and acting all embarrassing. It was a lovely moment!
Tina (Fey) was a great leader and she gave each of us a nice speech for our characters to give. The hard part was that no matter how sad I was as Jack, they had to get the shot right so I couldn’t cry like a toddler with solid. Kenneth was not the sort you’d expect to see cry so I had to hold it together for his sake.
We shot the show like a little movie, with different scenes being done at different times and then it all being put together. So it was hard to tell what was the last scene for other people. That’s why in my last scene with Alec, for instance, there was no finality to it. I did think, “This is might be the last time I work with Alec ever.” But he probably didn’t realize it was our last scene. With that being said, though, he gave a lovely wrap gift to many of us. Different people gave different gifts. Unfortunately, I didn’t have stuff to give at the end because I was in full sprint mode. But to not give a gift when goes against my Southern upbringing. Now that I’m settled down, though, I’ll send something from afar to my castmates. Distance makes it easier.
We also got some goody bags with fake props we used over the years. I got some Stone Mountain mementos, since that was where Kenneth was from. And a few days ago, I got an NBC page jacket in the mail. It was a nice little piece of Kenneth memorabilia. Plus, I can wear it to my job interviews at several restaurants in town. I do hope my path will cross again with everyone I worked with on “30 Rock” but I could use the jacket to look good when I’m clearing away Jane Krakowsi’s martini glass.
Watch 10 of the best Kenneth episodes here.
The Problem Solvers
The Ballad Of Kenneth Purcell
Chain Reaction Of Mental Anguish
Alexi Goodlooking And the Case Of the Missing Whiskey
Meet the Woggels!
Into the Crevasse
Today You Are A Man