'The Office': Zach Woods discusses what makes Gabe tick

zach-woods2-the-office-320.jpgGabe is at the center of "The Office" this week -- at least as much as Gabe can make himself be the center of anything.

The employees of Dunder Mifflin haven't taken too well to the corporate lackey from Sabre. "He is sort of the office pariah," says Zach Woods, who plays the character as trying very hard to join in the life of the branch but never really getting there.

"He's earnest," Woods told Zap2it when we visited the set of "The Office" last week. "He wants to be liked and wants to be respected, but he just doesn't have the tools to achieve either of those ends. I think he earnestly wants to be part of the gang and also wants to be sort of a dignified and powerful boss, but he falls badly short of both of those things."

At least Gabe has a girlfriend who recognizes some of those shortcomings. In Thursday's (Nov. 11) episode, Erin ( Ellie Kemper) organizes a "Glee" viewing party to show that Gabe maybe isn't so bad.

"Erin tries to wrangle people to come and find out that Gabe is not such a stooge after all," Woods says. Alas, though, "I think Gabe probably reinforces people's opinion of him more than he disrupts it."

Woods doesn't know yet how much (if any) say Gabe will have in choosing a replacement for Michael ( Steve Carell) -- if form holds, he'll likely be "limply asserting himself" while others actually make the decision. He's also not certain where his relationship with Erin is headed, but he has a few ideas.

"In my mind Gabe is probably a desperately lonely guy," he says with a laugh. "And being with Erin -- they're probably ultimately not that well-suited for each other, but I think he wants it to work so badly. ... It's one little place where someone is into him, and I think he'd overlook anything -- it could turn out that Erin's an arsonist, and he could probably still find some way of narrating it in his mind that would allow him to keep being interested in her."

"The Office" airs at 9 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC.

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Photo credit: NBC