Why Did Steve Carell Leave The Office? A New Book Reveals The Juicy Details
Interviews published in a new behind-the-scenes book shed new light on why Carell decided to leave.
Steve Carell's Michael Scott character was the foundation of The Office. So when it was confirmed that he would be leaving the show, it was huge news. The show was never the same without him. But why, exactly, did Carell leave the show? New details on this controversial topic have now come to light.
Collider reports that interviews in Andy Greene's new book, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, seem to suggest that NBC's ambivalence around picking up Carell's contract is the reason. But it's more complicated and nuanced than that.
Boom operator/sound mixer Brian Wittle says in the book that the April 2010 interview that Carell gave to the BBC is where it all began. In that interview, Carell offhandedly said Season 7 of The Office would "probably be my last year." Wittle said that Carell told him that he "didn't plan on saying it out loud and he hadn't decided anything" about staying on the show. He was merely "thinking out loud" during the interview, Wittle said Carell told him.
Carell's comments made news, of course. However, those in higher-up positions for The Office didn't bring this up to Carell. Wittle said in the book that no one called Carell and said, "What? You wanna leave?'"
"When he realized he didn’t get any kind of response from them, he thought, 'Oh, maybe they don't really care if I leave,'" Wittle said. "'Maybe I should go do other things.' So I think that made it easier, because when the news broke that he was considering it, the people that are in charge of keeping him there didn't make a big effort to do so until afterward."
Kim Ferry, a hairstylist on The Office, corroborated Wittle's analysis of the situation. Ferry said Carell had planned to sign for "another couple of years." However, NBC higher-ups never contacted Carell to get a deal done, according to Ferry's recollection of the events.
During this tumultuous time, NBC changed presidents from Jeff Zucker to Bob Greenblatt. The Office producer Randy Cordray said in the book that Greenblatt "was not as big a fan of The Office as we wished he would've been." Cordray said Carell might have stayed on The Office if management handled the situation differently.
Greenblatt is also quoted in the book as saying he can't remember the specific circumstances, but he claims that Carell had already elected to leave The Office when he became the new NBC chief.
The Office casting director Allison Jones said in the book that it's "absolutely asinine" that NBC did not come to an agreement with Carell to appear in the final seasons of The Office.
Michael Scott left The Office in the 22nd episode of Season 7, titled "Goodbye Michael." It's a wonderful, touching episode in which Michael says goodbye to his longtime friends one by one.
The Office ran for two further seasons. While there were some funny and emotional episodes, The Office failed to get the ratings it did with Steve Carell and the Michael Scott character.
Michael eventually came back for the series finale, uttering one more "that's what she said" joke.
A reboot of The Office is reportedly happening, and it's said to feature a new cast. One of the difficulties of rebooting these shows is that they would be very expensive from a salary standpoint, not to mention the production costs. "The actors want a lot more money than we're willing to pay them," Greenblatt explained in 2018.
The original show was adapted from the Ricky Gervais BBC show of the same name, and it ran for nine seasons from 2005 to 2013. The American show was developed by Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons writer Greg Daniels, who recently teamed up with Carell for a new Space Force show for Netflix.
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