Things were almost very different on The Office. That’s because Bob Odenkirk almost got the role of Steve Carell. But the actors had very different takes on the character and Carell won for a specific reason.
Sometimes actors are on people’s wishlists to play roles so they immediately get offered them. But they don’t always take the offer.
Many stayed away from the project or was apprehensive to do it because the British original show was so good. But Carell reportedly wasn’t familiar with it so he went in not trying to replicate Ricky Gervais’ character and that helped, according to Screen Rant. That made him become one of the final options for the role.
Steve Carell showed a softer side to Michael Scott
Michael was often seen annoying his employees. But he basically just wanted to be liked by them. Carell knew that and made decisions based on that.
Paul Feig talked about this on Office Ladies. He said Carell unexpectedly cried during a scene in “Office Olympics” and that helped set Michael apart.
“And I remember just going like ‘Oh my god, Steve that’s so great like keep going with that,’” the director said. “And I think that was kind of the turning point where his character took that left turn from Ricky Gervais’ character and became more sort of the lovable misfit who is trying too hard for everybody to like him.”
Bob Odenkirk had a darker take on the character
Odenkirk went on to play a lawyer who knows how to bend the law in the dark shows, Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. It sounds like he fittingly had a darker take on the inappropriate boss.
The book, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, revealed the role of Michael Scott came down to Odenkirk and Carell. The actors had different perspectives on the character.
“He had an edge to him. His take was as funny as Steve’s, but it was darker,” casting director, Allison Jones said. Producer Ben Silverman thought Odenkirk’s version wasn’t “likable” enough. “He was a little tougher and meaner,” he said.
Jones didn’t enjoy giving Odenkirk the bad news. “The worst thing I have ever had to do ever is to tell Bob Odenkirk’s agent that he didn’t get The Office …” said the casting director. “Believe me, it was a bummer to make that call and I do suspect the show would have worked with Bob Odenkirk.”
It all worked out in the end. Carell got the part and Odenkirk later had a smaller role on The Office playing Mark. Mark interviewed Pam (Jenna Fischer) for a new job in Philadelphia and he was basically another Michael Scott. She basically turned down the job.