How Dwight’s Bizarre Recyclops Suits Were Made

The Office stars Angela Kinsey and Jenna Fischer break down costume designer Alysia Raycraft’s process for creating Dwight’s various Recyclops looks.

Angela Kinsey and Jenna Fischer discuss the process that led the costume designer to Office to create the different outfits of Dwight’s character, Recyclops, over the years. One of the main characters of Office, which ran until season 9 on NBC between 2005 and 2013, is Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson). Dwight is a survivalist and beet farmer whose upbringing and family life are entirely mysterious to the other members of the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch. His general dislike leads him to be a frequent target for pranks performed by others. Office directing Jim Halpert (John Krasinski).

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As part of the network’s annual environmental initiative called “Green is Universal”, NBC aired a series of environmentally-themed episodes during “Green Week” in November 2009. On Office, their contribution was Dwight’s Earth Day-themed character Recyclops, a figure who is originally a Captain Planet-like superhero designed to encourage people to recycle. Over the cold open in Office season 6, episode 11 (“Shareholder Meeting”), several iterations of Recyclops’ costume are on display as the character evolves from year to year and eventually goes too far, becoming – in typical Dwight Schrute fashion – a weirdo terminator-like figure determined to destroy the planet with aerosols.


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Recently on the office ladies podcast, in which stars Fischer and Kinsey break down every episode of Office, they covered the Season 6 episode in which Recyclops is introduced. Fischer shared a message from costume designer Alysia Raycraft, who previously worked on theater productions including the Broadway musical The Lion King, on how she designed the increasingly silly iterations of the costume. Much of Recyclops’ evolution came directly from its creative mind, as the script prompts became increasingly vague. Raycraft originally designed the costumes on real photos of Wilson, and later even modeled Recyclops’ final look on herself. Read the full quote below:


“…For the very first Recyclops, in the script it said Earth Day 2005. Dwight wears a green t-shirt, a bandana over his mouth, and a third eye on his forehead while lecturing everyone the world on recycling, [and her] The first concern was that this description kinda reminded her of this character called Greenzo from 30 Rock…So the script said Earth Day 2006…She wrote, “I don’t think it has anything to do with Earth Day more for Dwight.” … Today’s Recyclops was scripted like this: he wears heavy green armor, which makes it difficult to walk. There is a flashing LED display on his chest. He has spray cans stuck to his hands, which spray a red mist. A belt of arms contains Chinese stars, boomerangs, a samurai sword, a spike of fencing. On his head he wears a helmet with a hole in the middle, showing his single giant eye. So for that, Alicia said she researched skateboarding and hockey equipment as well as lacrosse equipment because she wanted it all to have a kind of subterfuge feel. She said they got everything together and she didn’t want to force Rainn to try on all that gear. So Alicia put it on herself. And she sent me a picture of her… And she also said there was like a lot of back and forth on what the LED box should say. And then they finally opted to “kill”. And that’s how Recyclops evolved and eventually came into being.”


The Recyclops Cold Office Open

Raycraft’s preoccupation with not simply imitating a hit comedy series 30 Rock was valid. During “Green Week” in 2007, 30 Rock introduces the character of Greenzo, who is an unemployed actor (played by Friends star David Schwimmer) wearing a green shirt, green backwards baseball cap and giant Mickey Mouse-style gloves. The character also has a similar evolution to Dwight’s Recyclops, eventually moving away from the original environmental intentions as fame goes straight to Greenzo’s head.

Thankfully, Raycraft’s hard work and Dwight’s special sensibility worked hand in hand to make the character quite unique. Office has certainly always found a way to exist in its own weird universe, even while featuring characters or plot points similar to other comedy series. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons it’s remained such a popular sitcom nearly a decade after its demise, and why Office Cold openings like the Recyclops scene remain so iconic.


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Source: office ladies

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