Steve Carell is opening up about why he left The Office. Although it was adapted from a British series, the American version of The Office helped to popularize many of the tropes and character types in workplace sitcoms. That is perhaps most true of Michael Scott (played by Carell), a bumbling boss who had his share of shining moments but was more frequently remembered for his comedic blunders. Michael was foundational to the success of the show, thanks to what Carell added by virtue of his performance, and his absence was felt when the character made his exit in season 7.
During an interview on the Office Ladies podcast, Carell told hosts and former Office co-stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey about why he left the show even though it was “very emotional.”
Carell felt it was time for the show’s other characters to step into the spotlight and have their storylines become the focus. In the quote below, Carell discusses how farewell episodes were structured in a way that was impactful both on-screen and off.
“It was time for other characters to step to the forefront and other storylines to be pursued. I think it was the right… the timing was right, I think for everybody but simultaneously there’s just a sense of joy for me that we had experienced all of this and we were getting… I was getting a chance to take a lap with everybody. And the way those last two episodes were structured, it felt very rich to me to simultaneously be saying goodbye as Michael and us as friends in this moment of work together. But, yeah, it was a lot, it was a very emotional thing.”
Did The Office Recover From Carell’s Exit?
The Office handled the departure of Michael Scott smartly by making his absence somewhat central to the stories that happened next. The subsequent episodes put a particular focus on Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) as he attempted to rise to the role of regional manager. It also highlighted the memorable Robert California (James Spader), the CEO of the printer company that owns Dunder Mifflin.
By the time Carell made his exit, The Office was already nearing its end. It would go on for two more seasons, which largely were seen as being unrepresentative of the comedy’s best work and an overall decline. Even though this is the consensus, both for critics and viewers of The Office, there’s less agreement over whether the decline is caused by the lack of Michael Scott or if it would have happened regardless.
Carell reprises his role in The Office finale, though Michael Scott had already said his goodbyes. The episode puts its attention on other characters — just as Carell hoped his departure would accomplish. In the end, even though there’s some division about the sitcom’s output in the last two seasons, there’s no denying that the show has demonstrated tremendous staying power.
More: The Office Deleted Scene Reveals Michael Scott’s Job After Dunder Mifflin
Source: Office Ladies