‘The Office’: How Steve Carell Changed Michael Scott’s Character from What Was Originally Planned

Many fans love Michael Scott and that’s partially because Steve Carell did such a great job playing the manager on The Office. However, the character could have been very different if another actor played him. Find out how Carell changed the character for the better and more.

Only one episode of ‘The Office’ was based on the original show

The Office was originally a British show and the adaptation started off with remaking its first episode. However, it’s the only episode totally based on the original series.

Ricky Gervais played David Brent, who is an awful manager. Michael Scott is the American version of him. The scripts from the British show was used for the American pilot and only a few edits were made.

“[Producer] Greg Daniels was the person who was tasked with Americanizing the British show, and Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant kind of oversaw that process, but they were not on set when we were shooting the pilot,” Jenna Fischer revealed on Office Ladies.

“After the pilot episode of our show, we started writing original story lines,” Fischer said. “And the writers refer to [‘Diversity Day’] as ‘the pilot after the pilot’… because they felt like this was establishing what the American version is going to be like.”

Steve Carell got the role because he wasn’t familiar with the original show

Steve Carell as Michael Scott on 'The Office'
Steve Carell as Michael Scott on ‘The Office’ | Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

There were many actors who were being considered for the role of Michael Scott. Bob Odenkirk, Hank Azaria, and Martin Short were reportedly considered. Paul Giamatti also turned down the role.

Rainn Wilson, who played Dwight Schrute, also auditioned for it. However, Carell got the part because he wasn’t as familiar with the original show. He went in not trying to replicate Gervais’ portrayal of the character.

He made Michael Scott sympathetic

The manager could be easy to hate given he’s mostly offensive. However, there was a soft side to Michael Scott and that was because of Carell.

“It was just a fun thing to kind of put together,” said Paul Feig when talking about the episode, “Office Olympics” on the podcast Office Ladies. He said there was an “interesting feeling” being on the set for it.

“If you remember that was, sort of aside from the Olympics part of it, that was the episode that kind of started to turn everything. Because that’s where you know Steve’s character started to become slightly more sympathetic,” the director said to podcast hosts Angela Kinsey and Fischer.

“I don’t know if you remember that kind of got found on the set. Because remember we were doing the whole thing where you guys are presenting Michael with the medal and Steve just made this decision to kind of start crying you know getting all choked up,” said Feig.

“And I remember just going like ‘Oh my god, Steve that’s so great like keep going with that.’ 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,” he revealed.

Kinsey admitted she cried when Carell did that. There are many fans who were equally as moved by the actor’s performance. Now we know the reason behind one of the major changes in the adaptation.