There aren’t many people in entertainment who can say they’ve been a part of a smash television show as well as a hit band. As one of the stars of NBC’s hit comedy series The Office and a former member of the ’60s rock group The Grass Roots, Creed Bratton is one of the few who has that distinction.
“From a philosophy point of view, you could say that everyone has their own destiny,” notes Bratton from his Los Angeles-area home. “If something changed or things were different, would I be where I am with these two successes under my belt?”
One of the most popular comedies in television history, The Office, which starred Steve Carell as the bumbling Michael Scott and focused on a hapless group of workers for fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin, aired on NBC from 2005 to 2013. Along the way it was a ratings and critical hit, netting multiple Emmy awards. The half-hour sitcom also catapulted a then-unknown group of actors into cult heroes, including Bratton who played an eponymous colleague who was equal parts strange and mysterious. “Everyone took their characters seriously,” said Bratton of the reason for the show’s hit status, which even inspired an Office convention in Scranton, Penn. “What we’d hear all the time is that it was real. I think that’s why we had such an audience. We didn’t have a laugh track and allowed for long awkward moments and emotion. When you see something like that, you’re like ‘Wow, this is refreshing.’”
Over the show’s nine seasons, Bratton had a hand in some of the show’s most memorable moments. “I felt like the weird elder statesmen, and it was quite the part. I’m not that weird in real life, unfortunately for the fans,” Bratton laughs. “That's just the character. Otherwise I’d be in jail, or the character would be!”
Bratton says one moment stands out in particular. “I shot a six-and-a-half-page scene with Steve Carell during season two’s Halloween episode, when his character tries to fire me and I turn it around to have someone else fired,” he remembers. “The day after it aired, I see (costars) Rainn Wilson and John Krasinski walking toward me. They gave me a big bear hug and whispered in my ear, ‘You knocked it out of the park buddy! You killed it!’ I had to walk away because I was going to start crying. It meant so much to me because I respect these guys.”
When it came to the show’s final season, Bratton notes, “There were a lot of tears and hugging. I worked on many, many shows where the people do not like each other. We genuinely like each other, we all get together. We even get together and play, we used to jam in my trailer.”
Little known to fans of the show, how Bratton wound up on The Office was the result of a foray into music where he achieved success with The Grass Roots. The ’60s rockers, who topped the charts with hits ranging from “Let’s Live For Today” to “Midnight Confessions,” featured Bratton as their vocalist and guitarist. Incredibly, in despite of their immense success, members of the band were never paid for record sales thanks to a bad contract, leaving the members, including Bratton, destitute. “I’m amazed I was able to survive considering there was nothing coming in,” he notes.
As a result, the ordeal led Bratton to leave music behind and pursue acting. However, Bratton isn’t bitter. “Everything happens for a reason. In The Grass Roots I had great opportunities and got some money from playing live. Most of those bands back in that time got cheated.”
Now, Bratton is combining his two loves - music and comedy - into a stage show that’s headed to Solana Beach’s Belly Up on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14. Audiences should expect music as well as Bratton’s classic wry humor. When it comes to tying together his time with both The Office and The Grass Roots, Bratton draws from both experiences.
“As an actor, if I’m delivering scripted lines to the camera I’m conveying an emotion and a reality to an audience. When I’m on stage singing lyrics, I’m doing the same thing. One’s speaking the dialogue and the other is singing the dialogue. They’re very, very similar.”
Doors open for Bratton’s May 14 show at The Belly Up at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit www.bellyup.com.