‘The Office’: Steve Carell Revealed Michael Scott Was Inspired by His Middle School Teachers

It is impossible to think about The Office without eventually thinking about the infamous Michael Scott. Thanks to Steve Carell’s brilliance, amazing acting chops, and impeccable comedic timing, Michael Scott has become one of the best comedic characters of all time. The Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton was the definition of a “round character.” Equal parts idiotic and charismatic, you can’t help but be a little charmed by Michael.

The Office star Steve Carell as Michael Scott sitting as his desk
Steve Carell | Justin Lubin/NBCU Photo Bank

Part of what makes Michael such a compelling character is his intrinsic need to be loved. He is constantly trying to impress his employees so that they think he’s cool and goes out of his way to prove that he’s not like a regular boss. In fact, during the seven seasons of The Office that Carell was present for, Michael’s desire to be “cool” and well-liked led to some of the show’s funniest and most memorable moments.

Steve Carell on how his teachers influenced his infamous character on ‘The Office’

Fans aren’t like to forget moments where Michael’s attempts to appear cool have disastrous results. Whether he’s being “Date Mike” to try to impress a woman, giving an inspirational speech while dancing on a company booze cruise, or encouraging his employees to roast him, Michael is constantly trying a bit too hard. But where did Carell get the inspiration for his infamous Office character? In a 2013 interview with NPR, Carell revealed that his middle school teachers growing up influenced how he chose to portray Michael Scott.

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“I think, for me, it stemmed mostly from various teachers that I had growing up,” The Office star shared about who influenced Michael’s need to be cool. “Because many, many teachers that I had – especially fifth, sixth, seventh grade – would be people who were trying to be as cool as the students or wanted the students to think that they were cool, but indeed, they were not. And the harder they tried, the less cool they would appear to be.”

Michael Scott is oblivious to what people really think about him

Continuing on, Carell shared that Michael truly didn’t have any understanding about the way he came across to other people in the office. In fact, the actor felt that if Michael knew what people really thought of him his head would explode. “And that’s basically what Michael is up against,” The Office alum added. “He thinks people think he’s cool. He thinks people like him and think he’s funny and charming, but he’s really none of those things.”

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Carell’s character may be distinctly unique, but the actor believes that everyone knows someone like Michael in real life. “And incidentally, when you say everyone knows a Michael Scott, I guess the rule of thumb – Ricky Gervais [who created the UK version of The Office] told me this, in regards to the character that he played, David Brent in the BBC version of The Office – is that if you don’t know a Michael Scott, then you are Michael Scott.”