During the show’s fifth season, The Office ended up scoring that year’s coveted post-Super Bowl slot, so NBC wanted the episode in question, “Stress Relief,” to feature some super famous guest stars to boost its visibility even more.
Writer Lee Eisenberg recalls, “The network was insistent that we get celebrities, and that was really complicated. I remember wanting Matt Damon or Ben Affleck to be on it. I was like, ‘Okay, we’ll get somebody who has a blue-collar feel to be running a warehouse or they’re gonna go up against Michael somehow. It’s Matt Damon or Ben Affleck versus Michael Scott.’ For a lot of reasons, people just decided that putting someone like that in just takes you out of the reality of the show.”
Producer Randy Cordray was much more direct, remembering the strife behind the scenes: “Greg was really at odds with NBC over this. His point was, ‘How does that fit into a show based in an office in Scranton, Pennsylvania? What would celebrities be doing interacting with a paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania? That makes no sense. What would celebrities be doing in Scranton?'” Luckily for the network, Daniels had a solution.
During the second part of the episode, Jim (John Krasinski), Pam (Jenna Fischer), and Andy (Ed Helms) all watch a pirated movie together in the break room, and as Cordray recalls, “His way of [including celebrities] was to make a movie within the movie. Andy had access to stream a movie on his laptop and so we created this movie. That was our way of satisfying the network creative people and putting promotable star talent into the episode” — specifically, Jack Black, Jessica Alba, and Cloris Leachman.