‘The Office’: Steve Carell Did the Nicest Thing for Oscar Nuñez That Inspired Him to Briefly Leave the Show

Steve Carell was many things on The Office. For most fans, Carell will always be the hilariously awkward Michael Scott. But to The Office cast, Carell served as a leader and a mentor behind the scenes.

There’s no doubt Carell inspired many things about The Office, but Oscar Nuñez remembers the best advice he ever got from the actor. As fate would have it, Carell’s advice inspired Nuñez and one of The Office‘s biggest storylines.  

Oscar Nuñez, Brian Baumgartner, and Steve Carell in 'The Office'
Oscar Nuñez, Brian Baumgartner, and Steve Carell | Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

‘The Office’ Season 3 is missing Oscar Nuñez

Gay Witch Hunt” is the first episode of season 3 and one of the most iconic episodes of The Office. During the episode, Michael Scott outs Oscar Martinez, a gay employee at Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton Branch. In an attempt to make things better, Michael demonstrates his tolerance by kissing Oscar in the conference room. 

When corporate gets wind of what happened, Oscar and his boyfriend Gil (Tom W. Chick) vacation in Europe for a few months on Dunder Mifflin’s dime. “Part of me wants people in the office to have learned their lesson and just shut the hell up,” Oscar tells cameras upon his return. “But part of me thinks, you know what? Keep talking. I’d really love a home theater.” 

Many fans might think Oscar’s leave was simply the way the story was supposed to unfold. But behind the scenes, Oscar’s fictional leave from Dunder Mifflin doubled as a strategic move for showrunner Greg Daniels

Steve Carell told Oscar Nuñez to step away from ‘The Office’ briefly 

Actor Brian Baumgartner is working his way through the cast and crew of The Office on his latest podcast, The Office Deep Dive. During his conversation with Nuñez, Baumgartner discovered the real reason his character was granted “time off.” 

“I needed a way out of the show so I could go shoot Halfway Home on Comedy Central,” Nuñez explained. The actor was suddenly in a dilemma — he didn’t want to give up The Office, but he didn’t want to miss the opportunity with Comedy Central, either. 

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Nuñez also recalled a conversation with Carell during the podcast. After explaining his situation, Carell told him: “Do everything. Don’t say no to work. Do everything — figuring it out is not your problem; it’s up to your managers. They’ll figure it out.”

Daniels did figure it out. “What a lovely man — what a lovely human being,” Nuñez said of Daniels. He left for 12 episodes, then made his comeback in “The Return” episode of season 3. 

Is Oscar Nuñez gay like his character on ‘The Office’?

While his character Oscar Martinez is gay, Nuñez is not. The Office cast member is married to Ursula Whittaker, an actor, producer, and director, since 2011. She has worked on shows like Veronica Mars and Malcolm in the Middle

“I don’t know which came first — I think they were going to make me gay anyway,” Nuñez explained to Baumgartner on the podcast. Regardless, Oscar’s sexuality made for the perfect vehicle to grant Nuñez the time away from The Office he needed without completely writing the character off the series.