‘The Office’: Steve Carell Says Michael Scott Is a ‘Pure Character’ for 1 Reason

Steve Carell’s Michael Scott is one of the most memorable television characters ever to exist. While there are many reasons to love The Office‘s Michael Scott, there’s one thing that stands out about the role for the actor who played him. During a conversation with Office co-star Brian Baumgartner, Carell explains how Michael Scott is a “pure character.” 

Steve Carell as Michael Scott in 'The Office' comedy series
Steve Carell | Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

‘The Office’s Michael Scott makes watching some episodes difficult for fans 

As the manager of Dunder Mifflin‘s Scranton Branch, Michael Scott is the boss. But in many ways, he’s the most immature character on The Office. Michael loves attention and has an insatiable need to be liked and celebrated by anyone he meets. 

Michael would overpromise and underdeliver in many cases, as he did in the episode “Scott’s Tots.” The season 6 episode shows Michael in a bind after realizing he cannot afford to pay off the college tuition of several high school students. 

“Many fans have told me that this episode is the most difficult to watch,” Baumgartner explains on his previous podcast An Oral History of The Office. “There are even subreddits dedicated to this very topic.” 

While “Scott’s Tots” makes many fans cringe, it’s the perfect demonstration of all the ways Michael Scott is a pure character. 

‘The Office’ character Michael Scott didn’t have ‘hardness in his heart’ according to Steve Carell

In Carell’s opinion, Michael Scott never placed more value on any one person in his life. Instead, he treated everyone equally.

“In that way, I think he’s a very pure character,” Carell told Baumgartner on The Office Deep Dive. “He’s very dumb in terms of political correctness and being appropriate in public. But I just don’t think there was [a] hardness in his heart toward anyone.” 

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Like so many fans, Carell knows Michael Scott is a person with an enormously kind and good heart. “[He] lacked a great deal of information about the world around him,” the actor added. “[He] was as asleep in a woke world as you can be, but trying his best.” 

Carell also addressed the difference between intolerance and Michael’s ignorance. “I think he was a decent human being — he just didn’t get it all the time,” Carell concluded. 

Steve Carell demonstrates Michael Scott’s purity in ‘Goodbye, Michael’ 

During his conversations with Baumgartner, Carell mentiones his exit from The Office. As someone who always wanted to be loved, Carell knew Michael would find that in the end. But there was another way he wanted to demonstrate his character’s growth. 

In season 7, episode 22, the characters on The Office are planning Michael’s goodbye party. He is moving to Colorado with Holly Flax (Amy Ryan), but his colleagues don’t know that he’s leaving a day early. 

Yes, Michael craves pats on the back and wants everyone to find him funny and charming. But “Goodbye, Michael” was about demonstrating Michael’s growth as a person — showing fans that he was ready to move on from Dunder Mifflin. 

Behind the scenes, Carell presented the idea of Michael walking away from his big send-off. Instead, he wanted Michael to say goodbye to each character in a very personal way.

“That, to me, felt like it would resonate,” Carell admitted. That decision lent itself to the pureness Carell references in his character, too. Many Office fans can’t imagine a better exit for Michael.