Steve Carell On The 'Second Life' Of 'The Office'

By Diana Brown

June 24, 2021

"Beautiful Boy" UK Premiere -  62nd BFI London Film Festival
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It’s the episode of The Office Deep Dive Brian Baumgartner knows we’ve all been waiting for: Steve Carell. The World’s Best Boss sits down with Brian to dig into why the show worked, why it’s such a sensation currently, how he played Michael Scott, and the making of the show from the eyes of one of its biggest stars. Steve doesn’t like to use hyperbole, but says it’s one of the greatest working experiences of his entire career, crediting the ensemble as well as the writers and the crew for working seamlessly together and having incredible dedication and commitment across the board despite the negativity that surrounded it while it was being made. He remembers telling Paul Rudd he was going to audition for the American Office, and Paul saying, “Oh, don’t do that, man. Bad move.” “It’s what everyone was saying,” Steve continues. “But I think we all thought we were onto something. We knew.”

He feels it all started “with the quality of the writing staff,” and how he wanted to be “in service to the dialogue,” but also that they were part of the cast as well led to so many great ideas, jokes, and rewrites during the shoot. Brian says that Greg Daniels once told him that the show is about human behavior, “and you can’t write behavior. You can’t write body posture. You can’t write a specific look on your face.” Steve thinks this made all the difference for The Office, remembering that in “Office Olympics,” it wasn’t scripted for Michael to get emotional about winning a yogurt lid medal. “It was just this moment where Jim looks at Michael and realizes this is a big deal,” he says. The trick with Michael Scott is “to play the absurdity of a line as somebody just believing it, and not commenting on it as an actor, without leaning into the joke.” 

But even though he finds a lot to be proud of about the show, he says he’s still surprised at its “second life.” Recently, he took his daughter to visit college campuses, and it really drove home for him how popular it was with college kids. Even kids as young as twelve are fans. In fact, his daughter has never watched an episode of The Office – until she realized she’d be studying one for her freshman communications class. “And she texted me, ‘That was really funny,’ and it’s like, ‘Oh thank you honey,’” Steve laughs. “I just think that’s hilarious.” Hear more about the inner workings of Michael Scott, how Steve once stood up for the cast to the network, and whether he thinks the show could get made today, on this episode of The Office Deep Dive.

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