‘The Office’: How Steve Carell Saved the Chili’s Dundies Episode
Steve Carell is a terribly successful actor with a wide range of roles under his belt. But he’ll always be known as Michael Scott from The Office to many of his fans. Michael is such a memorable character because of the comedy and heart Carell brought to the role.
Office executive producer Greg Daniels said that he learned a lot about improv by watching Carell during his time on the show.
“When you see him roll with stuff that happens that’s not what he expected, that was very inspirational. If you’re kind of a control freak like I was coming from animation [Daniels was a co-executive producer of The Simpsons and co-created King of the Hill], where every single thing is controlled, it was very cool to see that he had this attitude of ‘Yeah, that’s not what we thought it was going to be, but it’s going to be good,'” he said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2011.
How Steve Carell saved ‘The Dundies’
One time Carell used his improvisational skills to the show’s advantage was during the filming of Season 2, Episode 1 (“The Dundies”).
“We had all these problems because the location fell through in the middle of shooting, and there was all this weird stuff going down with the Chili’s restaurant and I was panicked. I could just see everything falling apart. And [Steve Carell] maintained his creativity under amazing stress and kept pitching all these alternative things until we found one that worked and kind of saved it,” he said.
Daniels says he was impressed to see Carell act so cool in such a high-pressure situation.
“I was like, ‘Wow, that’s cool. That guy is comfortable in a level of chaos that I am not,'” he said.
Chili’s didn’t want Pam getting drunk at their restaurant
So what exactly went down that Carell had to come to the rescue? Apparently, Chili’s was uncomfortable with the original script.
“We had written in a thing where Pam gets so drunk at the Dundees that she throws up, and halfway through shooting it, Chili’s was like, ‘We wouldn’t serve somebody to that amount of drunkenness. We are a very responsible company.’ So we had her just fall off her stool instead of vomiting, which I think is better,” he said.
The Chili’s manager character was also made up on the fly.
“Then we invented the character of the Chili’s manager, and he said she was banned for life from Chili’s for sneaking drinks or something. Both of [Carell’s ideas] were really good,” he said.
Carell’s involvement with “The Dundies” aided him in becoming a producer on the show. He also went on to write and direct several episodes.
“He ended up writing ‘Casino Night’ and ‘Survivor Man.’ He’s directed some great episodes — he directed ‘Garage Sale,’ where he gets engaged to Holly. He’s very versatile,” said Daniels.