One of the most beloved episodes of “The Office” was almost ruined by a horse riding over Niagara Falls.
This week marks the 10-year anniversary of “Niagara,” the hourlong season six episode of the hit NBC sitcom that brought Jim (Newton native John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) together in holy matrimony. To commemorate the anniversary, Entertainment Weekly published an oral history of the episode, speaking to Krasinski, Fischer, Cambridge native Mindy Kaling, “Office” creator Greg Daniels, and “Niagara” director Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”) about the beloved hour of television.
The biggest revelation of the interview? The episode’s original script featured a subplot involving Dwight (Rainn Wilson), Pam’s ex-fiancé Roy (David Denman), and a horse.
In the original script, co-written by Daniels and Kaling, Dwight becomes obsessed with the history of people and animals going over Niagara Falls, and decides that someone riding a horse could survive. Just before Jim and Pam say “I do,” Roy rides into the church on a horse to object to the nuptials, but Pam once again rebuffs him. As the beautiful union of Jim and Pam unfolds, the script calls for Dwight to try to ride the horse over the falls, only to abandon it last-minute, with viewers seeing a horse swept over the falls as a background gag.
“I remember scouting this tank on the Universal lot and talking about how we’re going to shoot this horse being swept over the waterfall,” Daniels told EW. “Then we got to the table read and I was the last defender of the horse. The entire staff and actors were yelling at me: ‘Don’t ruin Jim and Pam’s wedding with a horse!’”
With the episode suddenly lacking a significant B story, the writing team settled on the beloved group wedding entrance dance, led by Michael Scott (Acton native Steve Carell). While the dance was a last-minute addition, it left Fischer in tears when she first saw it performed.
“I hadn’t seen it, they’d all been rehearsing it, and then I was very frustrated that I was stuck in the back of the church,” Fischer said. “I went up to the front to watch it and I was actually crying during the first rehearsal. It’s so sweet and joyous.”