B.J. Novak Jokes About Being 'Reckless Idiots' with Mindy Kaling in Past Romance — but 'We Were in Love'

Novak hilariously reminisced over the pair's past romantic relationship as he presented longtime friend Kaling with the Norman Lear Award at the 2023 Producers Guild Awards over the weekend

B.J. Novak took a moment over the weekend to reflect on his "tumultuous, romantic" relationship with longtime friend and frequent collaborator Mindy Kaling.

At the 2023 Producers Guild Awards on Saturday, Novak took the stage to present Kaling with the Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television. Not only did the Vengeance star and director gush about how "proud" he was of Kaling, he also shared some behind-the-scenes insights about their earlier days of working together on The Office.

"The first thing I noticed about Mindy in that writer's room is that she cared so much about everything," Novak, 43, began, noting how there "was nothing she didn't care about," ranging from her opinions about the show to pop culture to snack foods in the office.

Mindy Kaling and B. J. Novak
Stefanie Keenan/Getty

"We were in love with each other, and we were reckless idiots, and the two of us would argue about all of these things forever — grinding the writers room into a halt until we got too upset, and we'd go to our respective offices and slam the door, where we would continue arguing over AOL and Instant Messenger," he continued. "It was 2005."

Novak then described their former relationship as a "tumultuous, romantic, toxic, boundary-less mess," which is something the show's producers noticed as well. Because of this, they suggested the pair "have scenes together" because they were "pretty funny."

"There was no way out but through," he explained. "We made it work or didn't work, we made it through. Nearly 200 episodes of The Office together, 24 of them written by Mindy, far more than any other writer on the staff. And our conversation never stopped."

Novak then praised Kaling for helping to "pioneer the new streaming era of comedy" with The Mindy Project, though he joked that the men she dated on the show "looked weirdly like me." He also raved about her other hit programs Never Have I Ever and The Sex Lives of College Girls.

"Now, it would be tempting to tie all this together by saying how much Mindy grew up or changed since those early days. But what's more important is how much she didn't change," he continued. "No matter how much pressure she felt, how silly or self-conscious she could have been to care so much about so many things, especially when some of those things had never been on television before."

Novak added, "She knows a lot about producing now, but she was great at it even before she did because she's a great producer for the same reason that many people, including her, are great parents right away. She cares so much that she either knows what to do or finds out fast."

Mindy Kaling (R) and US actor BJ Novak arrive for the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020

As Kaling took the stage to accept the honor, she, too, spoke highly of Novak.

"Wow, that guy is so brilliant, so funny and so unfriendly, I just need him to like me," Kaling, 43, recalled of her initial thoughts about meeting with Novak, per The Hollywood Reporter.

"And it turned out great," she continued. "He's remained my closest friend throughout my entire room. He's seen all the ups and downs, and it just means the world to me. I am so lucky that my favorite writer is also my best friend, I love you."

Even though their romantic relationship has long been put to rest, Kaling and Novak have continued to remain close friends. Novak is even the godfather to Kaling's two children.

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And while fans have longed for a reconciliation between the two, Kaling recently shut down the possibility during an appearance on The Drew Barrymore Show.

"He is a wonderful friend and he is the godparent of both my kids [Katherine, 5, and Spencer, 2], and he loves children and they're so attached to him," she said. "He's really part of our family, but we've known each other for a long, long time and I think anyone who's been friends with someone for 18, 19 years and at one point dated and now doesn't, they maybe understand this. You have exes that you wouldn't necessarily marry now."

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