The comedians met while writing for The Office in the early 2000s, and instantly felt a connection that was mirrored in their characters, Kelly Kapoor and Ryan Howard. “We became friends when we were still super young, and also because we were working sometimes 16-hour days at The Office, and we did it for eight years,” Kaling recalled of her friendship during an appearance at BookCon in 2015. “So it was like going to college twice together.”
While the pair briefly sparked up a romance during the early years of the NBC comedy, they quickly realized they were destined to stay platonic. Despite years of insisting that they’re just friends, they’ve constantly been followed by questions about the status of their relationship.
“Whenever we date anyone else, I think there’s a period where the person is very skeptical of our friendship,” Novak explained during a 2013 interview with Entertainment Weekly. “‘Everyone seems to think you two might be a couple, and I don’t mean to get in the way. Are you sure you’re not dating? Are you sure you’re not going to end up dating?’ It’s such a common thing to have that platonic best friend that becomes a little weird when you start dating someone.”
Though the romantic aspect of their relationship didn’t last very long, the two TV writers have remained nearly inseparable for over a decade. After welcoming her first child, Katherine, in December 2017, Kaling admitted that she understood the confusion surrounding her soulmate-like connection with Novak.
“If I was on the outside looking at it, I would think the same thing,” she told Good Housekeeping in May 2019. “But the truth is that B.J. is so much more like family now than a platonic friend. He’s the godfather to my daughter, he comes over, like, once a week. Sometimes he’ll come over just to hang out with her.”
After playing such major roles in each other’s lives for so long, Kaling can’t picture her future without the Inglourious Basterds actor.
“But when you’ve known someone for as long as I’ve known him — the time that we met each other, which was like 24,” she told the publication. “Now, we’re both almost 40. It’s such a long time that he truly is just a part of my family.”
Scroll down to relive the former costars’ unbreakable bond through the years!