Creed Bratton wasn’t even a credited actor on The Office before becoming one of the show’s most popular characters.
If you asked a fan of The Office US to list their five favorite scenes or jokes, at least two would involve the mercurial Creed Bratton.
Hidden in the background, Dunder Mifflin’s Quality Assurance Manager (but don’t ask him to tell you his job title) has had many lives if you are to believe any of his stories.
He may be homeless, he may have been a rock star in his youth, and he may have killed a man named Creed Bratton. It’s an enigma.
What we do know is that he doesn’t know the names of his colleagues, he has absolutely no idea that “Creed Thoughts” is just a word doc rather than a personal blog on the interwebs and that in the bacchanalian 1960s, he may have endeared a man.
Is it any wonder that Creed has turned into such a stunning character, even in an ensemble of adorable kooks.
Bratton, the man who plays him and shares his on-screen counterpart’s name, has the same savage past, or at least a version of it. He certainly never killed anyone.
But Bratton isn’t his real name either, it’s William Charles Schneider (his name was Chuck) but decided early on that “Creed Bratton” was much more rock and roll.
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The actor and musician will travel to Australia later this year with his live show, a mix of performances from his many albums and stories from his life including his stint in the iconic American comedy.
The show, which has been repeatedly pushed back due to the Black Summer bushfires and then the pandemic, will be a compendium of the many lives he has lived in his 79 years, including his first fame within the rock band The Grass Roots.
“I was a reluctant rock star,” Bratton told news.com.au. “The Grass Roots tried to be one of the first bands to destroy a hotel room, but my heart wasn’t in it. I threw the TV away but looked the other way. They expected me to be like that, but I wasn’t.
Bratton didn’t really live a healthy life either. He’s been open about his past with drugs and alcohol along with a lot of his own experiences that form the backstory of the mysterious Creed.
“I showed all my warts and weaknesses and weaknesses, and in a humorous way, of course, because you can’t always show your positive stuff – it’s not funny sometimes.
“So I put a lot of myself into it, and the idea was if I continued down this dark path with drugs and stuff. But it’s not funny to say, ‘Well , no, I don’t do that anymore, I work hard’.”
Fans may not remember it now, but Bratton was never meant to be an integral part of Office. He had been hired as a background artist (an extra) to star in the scenes, nabbing the gig because he had worked as a stand-in on The Bernie Mac Show with director Ken Kwapis and Kwapis was directing the pilot for Office.
“I was there for two years before I realized I was on a TV show,” Bratton recalled. “I thought I was paid pretty well, I didn’t want to make waves. So, I just stayed quiet, stayed in my chair.
Bratton knew he wanted to do more, so he self-recorded an audition for Office producers to develop his character, writing dialogue for the on-screen Creed that was inspired by his ability to recount his own experiences.
And what was the risk? During these first two seasons, Office was still on the verge of being cancelled.
“I didn’t tell anyone what I was going to do, I wrote this character and shot it with my friend. In any other situation they might not have worked, but on Office it made.
“People shouldn’t wait for an opportunity. They should shoot their own stuff.
The producers liked what they saw and Bratton became a character in his own right in the second season episode “Halloween” in which he used his cunning ways to manipulate the often hapless Michael Scott (Steve Carell) to that he does not fire him.
Working on this stage remains his fondest memory.
“The day after it aired, I was at the craft serving table and walked in [John] Krasinski and Rainn Wilson and they saw me and they walked towards me. And they’re tall guys – I’m six feet tall but they’re taller than me.
“And they almost picked me up and just gave me a big hug and said, ‘You knocked it out of the park, mate.’ I almost cried, it was amazing.
In a lot of comedians, you’d expect there to be competition or a one-man guy for who might be the funniest, but Bratton said the cast of The Office never had a been like that.
“You don’t compete when you have people who are there for the whole, to add their little piece to the tapestry, you know? Insecure people may want to compete, but the people around me, we all work together, we don’t try to step on each other’s toes, which is rare.
“I find in movies people do things to try to outclass people. We were there to serve. As the musician serves the song, we were there to serve the show.
He wants to make something clear though – despite the assumptions OfficeThe fluid energy of was often improvised, the lines were 90-95% scripted.
“We took these lines from great writers,” he explained. “We had a great writing team and to our credit, it felt like we were just off the cuff stuff. A lot of people thought I was stoned and said whatever came to mind!”
This blurring between the real Bratton and the on-screen Creed has happened more than once – which isn’t surprising when the two share a name and part of the same weird life story. People often confuse him with the on-screen character.
“I was walking through a store and walking down the produce aisle, this woman recognized me and she kind of smiled that cracked smile. And then she pulled her child away from me as I passed.
“I was sad and proud at the same time. The character worked.
Creed Bratton will be touring Australia in September – Tickets are on sale now
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