The Untold Truth Of Brian Baumgartner

Think of any hit sitcom from the last 20 years and there's a good chance that Brian Baumgartner has popped up in at least one episode. The actor has graced everything from "The Goldbergs" and "Arrested Development" to "Hot in Cleveland" and "Mike and Molly." Of course, he's still best-known for his recurring stint in one of the all-time greats.

Yes, Baumgartner portrayed Dunder Mifflin's socially-awkward accountant Kevin Malone for over 200 episodes of the American remake of "The Office" and also sat in the director's chair for its eighth season's "After Hours." He's even picked up a Daytime Emmy Award for his work on "The Office: The Accountants," a web spinoff from the adaptation of Ricky Gervais' two-season wonder.

Of course, there's more to Baumgartner than the antics of Scranton's premier paper and office supplies company. From Cameo domination to chili obsessions, here's a look at the Atlanta native's untold truth.

Brian Baumgartner is a Cameo favorite

If you haven't had much luck trying to interact with your favorite celebrity on Twitter, Instagram et al, then there is a more surefire approach. Simply give them some cold hard cash. In 2017, the launch of Cameo gave fans the chance to pay for video chats and personalized messages from any star needing to supplement their income. And a certain star of "The Office" soon shot up to the top of its most popular chart.

Yes, within three years of the service going public, Brian Baumgartner had become its third-biggest TV star draw. The man best known as Kevin Malone placed above several other supporting sitcom players including "Seinfeld" star Larry Thomas and "Everybody Loves Raymond" regular Fred Stoller. But he couldn't quite surpass "Wizards of Waverly Place" favorite Josh Sussman and Big Ed from the "90 Day" franchise. However, just a year later, Baumgartner had zoomed past them all to become the site's top earner.

Baumgartner isn't the only "The Office" actor to cater to their fans' whims in exchange for nearly $200 on the site. Kate Flannery, who played permanently hungover rep Meredith Palmer, and Andy Buckley, who portrayed chief financial officer David Wallace, are just a few of the other Dunder Mifflin faces on there. 

He tried to leave Kevin Malone behind

Having played accountant Kevin Malone for nine seasons of Emmy Awards favorite "The Office," Brian Baumgartner understandably wanted to try something new once the hit sitcom came to an end in 2013. Of course, that was easier said than done.

In a 2022 chat with People, Baumgartner revealed he soon learned that typecasting was a very real thing: "I wanted to distance myself. I thought, 'I don't want to be Kevin Malone forever.' I spent a long time turning down roles that I felt were too similar or wanted a similar sort of feeling and character."

But instead of treating the NBC show like an albatross around his neck, Baumgartner learned to embrace it, going on to host several podcasts about the sitcom that helped launch him to fame. He added, "I consider it a blessing, especially the amazing fans who talk about how 'The Office' gave them comfort, how it helped them during a difficult time. I mean, countless stories, way more than I can mention. That's an amazing thing."

Brian Baumgartner is The Office's answer to Tiger Woods

Who knew that Kevin Malone was something of a golfing maestro? Well, the man who played him is, anyway. Yes, turns out that Brian Baumgartner is pretty nifty with a nine-iron. He's a regular of the American Century Classic where he's triumphed over professional athletes such as Seth Curry and Travis Kelce. And he's also competed with the likes of Atlanta Braves pitchers John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and none other than Michael Jordan.

Baumgartner admitted to USA Today's For The Win! he initially let his nerves get the best of him while on the green at the basketball legend's charity tournament: "I had just gotten to know him a little bit before that but I was terrified. I hit it into a greenside bunker on one hole early in the round and I'll never forget it ... Because of my anxiety I look dead up at MJ and he gives a little chuckle and says, 'That's alright, Brian. We've all been there.' And from then on I was totally relaxed."

The only "The Office" cast member to regularly play also revealed his skills on the course have helped him to fulfill his boyhood dreams: "To me the greatest gift that golf has given me is that I'm a huge sports fan and I've been able to play with athletes I either grew up loving or like now."

Brian Baumgartner is a chili maestro

Remember "The Office" scene in which Kevin Malone spills a massive pot of his signature chili onto the Dunder Mifflin reception floor before trying to scoop it up with some clipboards and paperwork? Well, actor Brian Baumgartner has taken the hilarious accident to its logical conclusion: write a cookbook consisting of nothing but recipes for the spicy foodstuff!

Yes, in 2022, the Atlanta native published the pretty self-explanatory "Seriously Good Chili Cookbook: 177 of the Best Recipes in the World." But this is no ordinary cookbook. It also comes complete with QR codes which when scanned presents readers with video tutorials. And then there's a foreword penned by another "The Office" accountant Oscar Martinez, aka Oscar Nunez. But if you want to recreate Kevin's famous chili without forking out some dough then you simply need to scroll through Peacock's terms of service. Indeed, one particularly observant subscriber noticed that NBC's streaming offshoot had hidden its recipe within the bundle of text that no-one ever reads. 

"Seriously Good..." isn't the end of Baumgartner's chili endeavors, either. He's also relied on his culinary expertise to pass judgment at the World Champion Chili Cook-Off. And if you're wondering what he bases his opinion on, then it's consistency, chewiness, variety, and spice. The actor also adheres to the apparent golden rule that if a spoon can be placed upright in a dish without falling over, then the chili is a dud. 

He has a love/hate relationship with country music

As Kevin Malone in "The Office," Brian Baumgartner had to sing and play the drums in a The Police tribute act named Scrantonicity. But although he's not averse to belting out "Roxanne" at a karaoke bar from time to time, the actor's own musical tastes are a little more country-fied.

Speaking to The Guardian about his pet sounds in 2021, Baumgartner discussed his love of the Nashville sound, with its strongest weed advocate a particular favorite: "I've been to many Willie Nelson concerts. I went to school in Texas and that's where I was introduced to him; he was around, and I really grew to appreciate what he did and how he changed the face of not just country music, but music."

However, you're unlikely to see Baumgartner singing along at a Florida Georgia Line or Luke Bryan gig any time soon. Alongside Boyz II Men, the funnyman listed "modern country" as his idea of musical hell, adding, "I can't even tell you a song right now, but I know I don't like it. To me, it's whiny and vapid, it just makes my ears bleed."

Brian Baumgartner is best buds with Aaron Rodgers

Here's a celebrity friendship you might not necessarily have seen coming: "The Office" star Brian Baumgartner and NFL hero Aaron Rodgers have been pals since they first bumped into each other way back in 2008.

During a chat with ABC, the former revealed how the unlikely BFFs first crossed paths: "I was sitting next to a guy at a blackjack table who told me he was a big fan. And turned out he was Aaron Rodgers. I have no idea who he was. No clue. This is the summer before he became a starter, and I'm like, 'Oh, you're the cow guy who's never gonna play because of Brett Favre, right?'"

Rodgers, of course, would go on to play a talent show judge on "The Office" in 2013 and was once seen sporting a T-shirt emblazoned with Baumgartner's character, Kevin Malone, while heading to training. The quarterback was even in attendance when the actor married Celeste Ackelson in 2014. Proving that the friendship isn't one-sided, the chili maestro reportedly visits Wisconsin twice a year to see the Green Bay Packers in action and in a 2021 parody video he helped the franchise behind-the-scenes by serving as everything from a tour guide to mailman. 

He is trying to stop milk from getting canceled

What with the rise of varieties such as oat, cashew, coconut and almond, the good old-fashioned milk sourced from cows is fast becoming in danger of becoming obsolete. But if Brian Baumgartner has anything to do with it, then we'll still be pouring the original stuff on our Lucky Charms for decades to come.

In 2022, Baumgartner was asked to lead a new campaign for the California Milk Processor Board. And luckily for the facial hair-averse actor he didn't need to sport a milk mustache as in the famous Got Milk? ads. Instead, "The Office" star simply had to accost Golden State natives and ask them to defend the thing they love.

Baumgartner, who's a nonfat, two percent, whole milk kinda guy, explained to The Hollywood Reporter how the white stuff links in with the whole cancel culture movement: "There's a certain segment of the population that believes almond milk and oat milk and whatever kind of milk is better. But why is milk suddenly bad? We're playing on the things that we love and putting doubt in people's minds that maybe they shouldn't just listen to whatever they hear. Or, in this case, someone who looks like me with a microphone in front of them telling them that certain things are bad."

Brian Baumgartner has been married twice

Kevin Malone never made it down the aisle with fiancée Stacy in "The Office," with the latter eventually calling the engagement off. But the man who played the bumbling accountant has tied the knot in real life on two occasions.

Brian Baumgartner first said "I do" to Julia Fisher. But following their divorce, the actor then made an honest woman out of Celeste Ackelson at a 2014 ceremony held in his backyard. John Krasinski, Angela Kinsey, and Jenna Fischer were just a few of the co-stars that made the wedding resemble a mini-"The Office" reunion.

Since then, Baumgartner has popped the question too many times to mention. But thankfully for wife number two, they've been on behalf of fans on the video platform Cameo. The Atlanta native explained to Page Six, "I think it's possible that I have proposed to more women than anyone on the planet. Not for me obviously ... like really, 'Will you ask Beth to marry me.' I really want it to be special because they made this choice and come to me and I want that to be good for them."

He's haunted by his The Three Stooges audition

In 2012, Brian Baumgartner was asked to audition for the role of Curly in the remake of "The Three Stooges." The actor had previously been a massive fan of the original comedic trio, but left the casting room never wanting to hear about them ever again.

When asked to recall his worst career moment by The Detroit News, Baumgartner discussed how he'd had a bad feeling before he even stepped foot in front of producers. And things got worse when he was forced to perform various slapstick scenes entirely by himself: "The physical comedy is that you're doing things to other people, that's literally what you're doing! You're saying nonsense words but poking them in the eye and hitting them in the groin. But there's nobody else there. And so it was this lame attempt at trying to physicalize 'The Three Stooges' while I was alone, with invisible people there."

Baumgartner, who was passed over in favor of Will Sasso, still cringes at the thought today, adding, "I think of myself as a serious actor! And I remember thinking, if this humiliating tape ever surfaces I'll never get another job again. I knew it was bad and I knew I was bad. I was put in a situation where I could not succeed. I'm usually able to laugh about embarrassing things later, but this one that I can't. To this day, I wish I had never gone in."

He was left wheelchair-bound as a teen

Brian Baumgartner was born in 1972 with a twist in one of his leg bones which in his teenage years he tried to get fixed. Unfortunately, the surgery he underwent not only made the situation worse, it left him wheelchair-bound.

While appearing on "The Viall Files," a podcast hosted by former "The Bachelor" star Nick Viall, Baumgartner explained that he decided to go under the knife to help fulfill his sporting ambitions: "It wasn't dramatic; it was something that I could have lived with, but if you want to be a professional baseball player, no, you need everything aligned and to be able to run fast."

The actor experienced excruciating pain for several days after, but doctors later discovered that it wasn't the procedure itself that was to blame: "So they cut the cast off, and it had burned through my Achilles tendon at the back of my leg. So now an elective surgery to try to solve a situation created a situation where I had to learn to walk again. There was skin grafts ... I was in a wheelchair; I had a walker." With his baseball dreams in tatters, Baumgartner was forced to explore other career avenues and the rest is "The Office" history.

Brian Baumgartner wishes he'd been a better thief

In case you missed out on one of the finest sitcoms of the 21st century, a Dundie is the award given out to Dunder Mifflin employees by boss Michael Scott in a well-meaning but ultimately pointless attempt to increase workplace morale in "The Office." Accountant Kevin Malone managed to get his hands on one, the award for "Don't Go In There After Me." But sadly, Brian Baumgartner doesn't have one himself, and boy does he rue the missed opportunity.

When asked about his last ever day on the set of the NBC sitcom by Metro, the actor replied, "'The thing I regret, which I think a lot of people took, and somehow I didn't think of it. I wish I had taken a Dundie, but I didn't take a Dundie, so I don't have a Dundie. A lot of people have Dundies, I didn't think about that. I can walk down to the corner store in Hollywood Boulevard and I'm sure I can find one."

Still, Baumgartner didn't do too bad elsewhere. "I borrowed some things that have not been returned to NBC yet," he admitted. This included Kevin's nameplate alongside various other desk props and perhaps his true pride and joy, the famous jar of M&Ms.

Brian Baumgartner loves being a girl dad

In 2015, just a year after they walked down the aisle, Brian Baumgartner and Celeste Ackelson became parents together for the first time. "The Office" star couldn't have been prouder, either, captioning an Instagram snap of the tot, "My latest project. Nine months in the making. I am happy to announce the arrival of my daughter Brylee Bea — healthy and very happy. She told me she looks forward to catching up on all the old episodes of "The Office" once her eyes adjust to life."

Baumgartner later admitted he was initially disappointed on learning he was becoming a father to a little girl, largely due to his visions of playing football in the backyard with his son. However, as he told Yahoo!, he now wouldn't change anything for the world: "I'm a little bit on the older side of dads, and I think if I had a boy, I don't know that I could survive it. There's so much energy."

And although Brylee Bea has yet to watch the antics of the Dunder Mifflin gang, she has started to become aware that her father is slightly different; "It more comes out in fairly innocent and innocuous questions that I think she suspects some of the answers, but doesn't say, like, 'Why does that guy want to be your friend?' meaning a stranger on the street? Or, 'Why does that guy want his picture taken with you? Is it because you're famous?'"

Brian Baumgartner is a podcast king

Watch out Joe Rogan. Brian Baumgartner is coming for the title of podcast king. The star has become a regular of the medium in recent years having hosted both the self-explanatory "An Oral History of the Office" and "The Office Deep Dive" as well as the more general TV-themed "Off the Beat."

When asked by Nerds and Beyond what attracted him to the podcast world, the actor replied, "Well, I feel like there's tons of outlets [where] people can get the surface stuff. I mean, you know, all you have to look at is late night television, late night talk shows. They're seven-minute increments, it's very surface, it's very, you know, what's the project that's happening now or talking about sort of big events that happened in people's lives. To me what's really interesting is that — I mean not to borrow the title of the podcast [laughs] but those off the beat moments."

Baumgartner has welcomed everyone from "Boy Meets World" star Danielle Fishel to New England Patriots hero Julian Edelman on his "Off the Beat" podcast. But there's one particular star, another sitcom favorite, that remains at the top of the actor's wish list. Baumgartner explained that because he feels "The Office" has more in common with "Cheers" than most people think, he would love to chew the fat with its leading man Ted Danson.

Brian Baumgartner has a net worth of $10 million

Brian Baumgartner has more than a half-century's worth of film and TV credits to his famous name, ranging from big-screen comedies "License to Wed" and "Four Christmases" to TV dramas "Chicago Fire" and "Hand of God." You might have expected for the majority of his $10 million fortune, though, to have been earned via his nine-season recurring role as accountant Kevin Malone in "The Office." Instead, the actor has amassed much of this colossal figure by wishing fans a Happy Birthday.

Yes, in 2020, it was revealed that Baumgartner had made a staggering $1 million over the previous year simply by sending personalized video messages through the platform Cameo. Co-founder Steven Galanis confirmed that the Atlanta native's popularity — he created more than 5,000 videos during this period at nearly $200 a time — had helped him become one of the site's highest earners.

Remarkably, Baumgartner had been hesitant about aligning himself with Cameo. But in an interview with the BBC, he claimed that money wasn't the driving factor for him, eventually relenting: "This is not about me or about getting a message from me ... I view it as an attempt from two people who want to make a connection," adding, "They want to make a connection so they give this message from me because it brings them back to a moment that they actually shared together."