The “Goodbye, Michael” episode of The Office was emotional for everybody–viewers, cast, and crew alike. When Michael Scott (played by Steve Carell) left Dunder Mifflin, the beloved sitcom changed for good.
Why Steve Carell quietly left ‘The Office’
The Office executive producer Greg Daniels did an interview with Entertainment Weekly back in 2011 about Carell’s departure. The interviewer noted that the actor was “very quiet” about leaving the show. Daniels said the reason was that Carell is “very modest.”
“He really wants the show to continue after he’s gone. Part of it is because he’s very fond of everybody who works there,” he said.
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Daniels went on to say that one of the big reasons the show was able to continue without Carell was that he’d worked to make it truly an ensemble piece.
“He always encouraged the other members of the cast to have more lines and be in scenes. He was very generous as a performer. Whenever we were on stage for anything, he always stood in the back,” said Daniels.
‘The Office’ must go on (even after Michael Scott leaves)
While Daniels and the rest of The Office team were worried about keeping their full audience after Carell’s departure, they were confident in the rest of the cast.
“Part of that was from Steve’s encouraging it, being a generous person. But also, if you were to just look at our cast without Steve — and didn’t know that Steve had been on the show — you would say, ‘Oh my god, what a super cast! How did they ever get all those people together in one show?’” he said.
In previous seasons, Daniels says they had such a plethora of ideas that not nearly all of them ever made the final cut. With Carell’s exit, Daniels and the team were looking forward to focusing on other plots more.
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“So often we’ve had really funny stuff that hasn’t been able to be squeezed into the show because we do an A-plot, B-plot kind of thing, so the idea of being able to allow some of these great actors who are stars of other movies have A plots is good. Obviously it’s going to be difficult because he’s pretty irreplaceable, but I think people are optimistic,” he said.
Daniels likened Carell leaving to the British Office ending after only 12 episodes. He felt there was still so much left to do.
“This is kind of the situation we were in when we started, because a lot of people were like, “How could you possibly do the show without Ricky Gervais?” These guys had built this toy — the British Office — and they played with it for 12 episodes and a special, and then they stopped playing with it,” he said. “I was like, ‘Hey, I want to play with that! There’s a lot of fun left in that toy.’ The writing staff and the other actors are feeling a little bit the same way now: ‘This is only season 7; it’s not like we’re in season 22. We want to tell stories with this toy and play with it.’”
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