‘The Office’: How Steve Carell’s Movie Career Changed Michael Scott

Though Steve Carell left The Office cast near the end of Season 7, his character, Michael Scott, is still synonymous with the show. In fact, Michael is largely thought of as one of the best TV characters of all time. Thanks to Carell’s improvisational background, the comedic work that he did on the show is unforgettable. But there is far more to his infamous character than just comedy.

The Office cast member Steve Carell as Michael Scott sitting at his desk
Steve Carell | Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

One of the things that makes Michael such a compelling character is that he is incredibly layered. Sometimes you can’t help but be frustrated with his ridiculous and inappropriate behavior while other times you find yourself rooting for him. Season after season, viewers watched the character continue to grow and evolve. But perhaps the most noticeable shift in Michael came in Season 2 of The Office.

Michael Scott changed after Season 1 of ‘The Office’

Fans of The Office will note that the Michael they met in Season 1 is drastically different from Michael in Season 2. In the sophomore season of the show, Michael is noticeably “cooler”. The character looks better, dresses better, and is slightly less dweeby and more suave. But what inspired this change in the character? In a 2006 interview with NPR, Greg Daniels (who created the American version of The Office) revealed that Carell’s film career actually inspired a lot of the changes.

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“I think Michael has changed a little bit, and a lot of it has to do with growing away from the British show a little bit, and also Steve’s movie career, because when Steve Carell did 40-Year-Old Virgin, I think that was eye-opening for me and for some of the writers to see him play a romantic lead in that way, and how likeable he was,” The Office creator revealed. “And it helped us include some of those characteristics in his character of Michael Scott.”

Mindy Kaling studied real life to get inspiration for the characters

Mindy Kaling, who also wrote for The Office in addition to being a part of the cast, quickly echoed Daniels’ sentiments. In addition to Carell’s movie career, she took inspiration from real-life when she was writing for Michael Scott and the rest of the characters in Season 2.

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“You know when you’re on the subway, and you see this, like, really weird-looking loser that’s talking really too loudly, and they have, like, a girlfriend?” The Office alum questioned. “To me, that was like a big change in, like, the second season is that, like, characters who were – you’re kind of like that person’s loved by somebody? You know when you’re on the subway, and you see this, like, really weird-looking loser that’s talking really too loudly, and they have, like, a girlfriend? To me, that was like a big change in, like, the second season is that, like, characters who were – you’re kind of like that person’s loved by somebody?”

Steve Carell’s movie career helped ‘The Office’ become a better show

It was a smart move for the writers to feature Michael Scott as someone who was worthy of love. After all, his dalliances with love and relationships with people like Holly, Jan, Carol, Donna, and Helene make for some of the best moments of the show. Clearly, The Office benefited from Carell’s film career just as much as the actor did.