‘The Office’: The Sentimental Gift Steve Carell Was Given on His Last Day Filming
When Steve Carell left The Office in 2011, the show certainly changed. Losing Michael Scott was the end of an era on television. The goodbye was felt by fans, Carell’s castmates, even the behind-the-scenes crew. According to executive producer Greg Daniels, Carell’s last day filming had a ceremonious quality to it.
A sad, special day
Actors performing opposite Carell often had a tendency to break out laughing in the middle of a scene. Daniels said, on Carell’s last day filming, lots of actors broke as per usual, but they broke with small emotional outbursts rather than laughter.
“It was just this weird sense of ‘Oh my god, this is his last this thing, this is his last that thing.’ I kind of felt like a priest who was sitting with him as he ate his last meal. But the actors were very emotional,” said Daniels in a 2011 interview with Entertainment Weekly.
He continued: “You know the concept of breaking? An actor bursts out laughing and drops his character. They kept doing it here because they’d suddenly get really sad that they weren’t going to work with him next week. They were sadder than their characters were supposed to be. They broke, but going to ‘sad.'”
Daniels says he “got choked up writing” Michael’s last scene with Dwight (Rainn Wilson), which he wrote in a Coffee Bean. But he’d sat with the script long enough to just enjoy the final moments of filming.
“By the time I was at the set, I had worked through a lot of it. I was just concerned about keeping it funny,” he said.
Steve Carell’s final episode was supposed to be much shorter
Originally, Carell’s final episode was supposed to be the normal length. But there was so much to cover.
“I wrote it as a half-hour and in the scenes with Will Ferrell, he was being very improvisational and funny and you didn’t want to cut that. And then the stuff with Michael was all about him getting his goodbyes with everybody, so you didn’t really want to cut out some of the people. And it needed to be able to breathe because he was having these goodbyes. So it ended up being really long,” said Daniels.
Thankfully, NBC made an exception and allowed the episode to be 50 minutes.
“I talked to NBC and they were very cool about [making the episode a non-traditional length], even though it was awkward from a business standpoint. [NBC Entertainment Chairman] Bob Greenblatt was like, ‘You do whatever is best.’ They really wanted to give Steve the proper goodbye,” he said.
Steve Carell’s gift from ‘The Office’
Carell didn’t leave the set empty-handed. He was given a special gift from everyone who worked on the show.
“He’s a hockey player so one of the things we gave him was a hockey jersey with his number on the call sheet on it — it was one — which was retired. The way they retire a guy’s number. We made a little ceremony out of it,” shared Daniels.