Brian Baumgartner slowly introduces ‘The Office’ to his 6-year-old: ‘I showed her the chili’

Brian Baumgartner about being a girl dad and being recognized while out with his daughter. (Photo: Courtesy photo; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life’s parenting series on the joys and challenges of parenting.

It’s easy to find yourself being cast as inept Dunder Mifflin accountant (and Scrantonicity frontman) Kevin Malone on The office as the biggest game changer in actor Brian Baumgartner’s career. Nearly a decade after the 2013 finale of the beloved sitcom, the funny man… Office culture is thriving with its Dundie-worthy podcasts (first, with last year’s An oral history of the office, and now iHeartRadios The Office Deep Dive, where he welcomes former co-stars and showcases super fans like Billie Eilish). And in October, the Daytime Emmy winner will release a book inspired by the show: Welcome to Dunder Mifflin: The Ultimate Oral History of The office.”

However, the biggest change in Baumgartner’s personal life was fatherhood. In 2015, he and his wife Celeste became parents to daughter Brylee Bea, now 6. Here, the actor and avid golfer reveals that he is a girl dad, trying to be his Office stardom for a 6-year-old and how he looks a bit like Kevin off-screen.

The office obviously remains a big part of your life; you have the podcast and a book coming out. Does your daughter, at six, have any understanding of that world?

She is slowly becoming aware that life with me is a little different from other fathers. It shows up more in pretty innocuous and innocuous questions that I think she suspects some answers, but doesn’t say, “Why does that guy want to be your friend?” what does a stranger on the street mean? Or, “Why does that man want his picture taken with you? Is it because you’re famous?” She started using words like, “Is it because of… The officeShe is now aware of it as an entity and has certainly heard it discussed around me.

And by the way I don’t know what the right thing is – I really don’t – but I’ve started talking to her, I want her to at least understand why daddy sometimes leaves, like what exactly I’m doing. When I think back, my father was a doctor. I also don’t know how much I was aware of what he was doing, so I don’t even know how important that is. But I play golf and sometimes I play golf on television [in celebrity tournaments and sports specials] and I travel away to play golf… I don’t want my child to think that I go away all the time to play golf; it’s that I’m going to play golf on television because that’s something I have to do for work.

As she learns more and asks more questions, I just want to be there for her, to answer. I’ve shown her a few things now – but even the concept of a cartoon is very hard to understand. I’m one of the voices, Walter the bear, in this new animation show, Garbage truck on Netflix, and there are 30-something episodes. And so having to explain to her that I was the bear is a complicated idea, isn’t it? when they look Aladdin or whatever, they don’t think about who is the person voting [him]. “Aladdin is Aladdin, what do you mean?” I think she actually started to understand more about the “pretend world” – I think she calls it that – and started to understand other things that I’m doing.

She was clearly not born then The office went on, so she didn’t live through that specifically, but she’s seen clips. I showed her the [chili scene] because there is a lot of talk about chili around me. It is not uncommon for someone [ask me about it] when she’s around. She saw the animated show Garbage truck and a few other things I’ve done too, but she doesn’t actually like episodes of any television show or movie I’ve been doing right now.

Kevin is clearly a clumsy character. As a father, have you had a stereotype Kevin moment?

I’m bumbling all the time [laughs] – let’s be clear about that. Nothing specific, although – this is quite recently – I was at a family gathering. I had a bunch of meatball sandwiches on a large platter. I was walking through a bunch of people and a dog had left a hard ball behind. I completely stepped on that ball — like 100 percent — and had the moment in my head: I’m going downstairs. And there were a lot of people around [laughs], and the room stopped a bit. And then someone started laughing and said, “We almost just witnessed the chili in real life,” which I don’t think I would have ever lived. But I don’t think anything has really been fully implemented.

What kind of father are you: strict, a pushover, somewhere in between?

This sounds awful… I wanted a boy So bad. I wanted a boy. I like sports very much. I saw that stereotype [moment of] soccer in the backyard with this kid. And I tell you, having a girl was the best, best, best thing ever. I love being a girl dad. I really wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m a bit on the older side of dads, and I guess if I had a boy I don’t know if I’d survive. There is so much energy. Boys come by [for playdates] and they just run into walls, especially when they are 4 or 5 years old. I’m like, “What are you doing?” At least my daughter isn’t like that.

What are the things you like to do with her? Does she enjoy golf, or are there other family activities you enjoy?

The number one thing is swimming; we swim together almost every day. We live near the ocean so it doesn’t matter [what] body of water, whether it be a lake or a spring or the ocean or a pool or whatever, she likes to do that and I like to do that with her. I didn’t want to push the golf thing too early but we went out and she enjoys hitting balls and being on the green. And she really enjoys football.

You said you’re an older father. Do you wish you had started sooner, or are you grateful for the benefit of having more of your own life experience?

I certainly have no regrets or wish for anything else in that regard. If I had a boy [laughs]”I’ll be honest: I think I’m wiser and probably less patient for that kind of nonsense. But she’s really, objectively speaking, a very easygoing, great kid, so I have no complaints about that. I feel like everything happened at just the right time and that we really enjoy each other… Especially in the last 18 months, [I’ve been] a lot around which is great for me. I can pick her up from school and drop her off at school and have time that afternoon. When I’m here, we swim together in the afternoon, which is very valuable to both of us.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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