Steve Carell wanted to make Michael Scott his own original character. The 60-year-old star of The Office spoke with his former co-stars, Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey, on their podcast, Office Ladies, and reflected on his turn at the lovable, goofy regional manager of Dunder Mifflin paper company.
The American version was a spin-off of the comedy series that originated in Britain with comedian Ricky Gervais playing boss David Brent.
During his podcast interview, Carell explained why he opted to never watch the British version of the show, even before he landed the role of Michael Scott.
“I had a pretty specific take at this point, and it wasn’t Ricky Gervais’,” Carell shared of meeting with the show’s creator, Greg Daniels, to pitch his take on the now-iconic character. “I chose not to watch the British version because I didn’t want that to influence whatever this version was going to be. [Gervais] was clearly so great at it, he was such a distinctive character, I didn’t want to do an impression of him.”
Carell noted that Gervais’ portrayal of David Brent was “so specific,” that he shied away from watching the show altogether.
“His character was so specific, I thought, ‘No, I can’t because that’s what I’ll want to do. I won’t see it any other way,'” he recalled.
Fischer joked, “I remember also telling you that I chose to watch the entire British series and completely copy Lucy Davis and was basically doing a Lucy Davis impression to get the job.”
Davis played receptionist Dawn Tinsley on the British Office.
Carell also said he was “ready” to move on from Michael Scott, when he exited the show in season 7, two seasons before the series ended.
“For me, there was a joy to [shooting my last few episodes]. Like when you’re crying with joy! It wasn’t even sadness,” he recalled. “I was ready to go, I wasn’t sad for leaving. It was time for other characters to step to the forefront and other storylines to be pursued. The timing was right for everybody. But simultaneously, there was just a sense of joy that we had experienced all of this. I was getting a chance to take a lap with everybody. I was simultaneously saying goodbye as Michael and us as friends in this moment of work together. It was a very emotional thing!”
But though he moved forward in his career, one part of Michael has always stayed with Carell.
“I have never had a job where I didn’t look into the camera at some point,” he quipped of the show’s decision to regularly break the fourth wall.
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