In the hilarious third-season premiere of NBC's The Office (Thursdays at 8:30 pm/ET), Oscar Martinez was unceremoniously outed by Michael, and subsequently awarded paid leave by Dunder-Mifflin to curb any litigious thoughts. In reality, the accountant's portrayer, Oscar Nuñez, took a leave from the show to exec-produce and star in the Comedy Central series Halfway Home. But now that he has returned to his cubicle, TVGuide.com decided to check in on the Cuban-born funnyman.
TVGuide.com: When did the Office writers officially tell you Oscar would be gay?
Oscar Nuñez: It was toward the end of the first season. At first, it started as a rumor. The actors started saying, "Oscar might be gay" when we'd read the scripts, and I was like, "Really?" Then, lo and behold, there was a script where Oscar was gay. [Executive producer] Greg Daniels came up to me and said, "Hey, Oscar, would you mind if your character was gay?" I'm like, "Greg, there's a script already written. I've seen it. Thanks for asking me now." But I didn't mind.
TVGuide.com: Was it difficult to keep a straight face while shooting the Michael-Oscar kiss in this season's opener?
Nuñez: You know, that's not one of my weaknesses. I'm pretty good at keeping a straight face. Steve [Carell] has made me break a handful of times during the season, but that wasn't one of them.
TVGuide.com: That's impressive. It's such a long, uncomfortable moment.
Nuñez: And we did it a couple of times! Every take was uncomfortable, and everyone watching kept breaking up.
TVGuide.com: Is it fun to play a character who often exposes Michael's general ignorance?
Nuñez: I think every character exposes his general ignorance. You just sit there and watch him and your jaw drops.
TVGuide.com: This season's big story line was the addition of the Stamford office staff. Do you have any idea what sort of future shake-ups are planned?
Nuñez: There's definitely more interoffice politics coming down the pike.
TVGuide.com: Can we expect to see more Oscar?
Nuñez: I would hope so, yeah. I think as the show progresses they'll have to flesh out more characters just because there will be more episodes.
TVGuide.com: But you haven't seen any upcoming scripts to know for sure?
Nuñez: No. We see scripts like a week before we shoot them.
TVGuide.com: Does that make it tough to prepare?
Nuñez: No. We're just "working in an office." Though a lot of us come from an improv background, there are scripts and it's definitely mostly written. Steve gets to improvise a bit, and Rainn Wilson also improvises. We [the "accountants"] do, too, but it rarely sees the light of day.
TVGuide.com: Halfway Home's Eulogio is also gay, but in a very different way than Oscar. Would they have any chemistry together?
Nuñez: No way. Oscar is a Log Cabin Republican, and Eulogio doesn't even vote. Oscar would probably report Eulogio to the authorities. They would not mix well together.
TVGuide.com: What was it like producing and starring in your own show?
Nuñez: It's very exciting. [Executive producers] Kevin [Ruf], Damon [Jones] and I were in the Groundlings together. Kevin is an attorney and he's visited halfway homes, so he threw out this idea of setting a show in a halfway house. Fortunately, Comedy Central liked that idea. It's been a long road. After years of pitching stuff to them, they finally liked a show. It's been great to work with friends on a project like this.
TVGuide.com: What's the major difference between working on a cable show as opposed to working on a network show?
Nuñez: The catering. The catering and pampering is great for The Office, because it's not only a network show, but it's gotten a couple of awards as well. We're very well taken care of. Halfway Home's budget is a lot less. The nuts and bolts don't change — you're still making a TV show — but the fringe benefits of The Office are definitely better. It's not lobster and steak every day, but it's something like that.
TVGuide.com: So what does your wife think about the fact that you're becoming known for playing "the gay guy"?
Nuñez: Actually, we're in the middle of a divorce right now.
TVGuide.com: Oh... well, I hope your characters didn't have anything to do with that.
Nuñez: No, they didn't. I haven't really gotten [the news] out there, but I guess I might as well now.
TVGuide.com: Gotcha. Well, now it's out there.