‘The Office’: Why Steve Carell ‘Lied for Months’ to ‘Almost Everyone, Really’
When Steve Carell left The Office, the world truly lost its greatest boss. He had an emotional, fitting send-off in “Goodbye, Michael.” And everyone thought that was it for Michael Scott. However, he made an appearance in the series finale, showing up just in time for Dwight’s wedding. To pull off the surprise, Carell had to lie to everyone for months.
How Steve Carell and ‘The Office’ writers and actors pulled off Michael Scott’s surprise appearance in the finale
“I lied,” Carell told TVLine in 2013. “I lied for months to the press, to almost everyone, really. And I felt terribly for the cast and for [executive producer] Greg Daniels, because they all lied, too.”
Carell knew “several months” before filming the finale that he was going to be involved. He and The Office team decided to keep the info under wraps “because we just figured it would be a fun surprise if people weren’t expecting it.”
Leading up to the finale, The Office team gave lots of interviews and were asked about a possible Carell appearance. Daniels always chose his words carefully.
“I think Steve felt, and I agree, that the ‘Goodbye, Michael’ episode was his goodbye and he didn’t want to overshadow the ending that all the other characters deserved,” he said.
Because everyone kept Carell’s involvement a secret, it was all the more emotional and satisfying when he showed up.
Steve Carell didn’t want Michael to detract from the other plotlines in ‘The Office’ finale
Though Office fans were thrilled when Michael surprised Dwight at his wedding, Carell didn’t want the part to detract from what else was going on with the finale. He wanted to keep it brief. And he also didn’t want the press to focus on his appearance leading up to the episode.
“I didn’t want it to be a big thing. I did it out of respect for the show and for the actors,” he said. “My only hope with it was I didn’t want it to be about Michael coming back. I didn’t want the story to be about him in any way. I wanted it to be more of a tip of the hat to the show.”
When Carell left The Office after “Goodbye, Michael,” Daniels gave an interview that echoed the same sentiment. He said the actor never wanted to detract from the ensemble, even in his departure.
“He’s very modest,” Daniels told Entertainment Weekly in 2011. “He really wants the show to continue after he’s gone. Part of it is because he’s very fond of everybody who works there. And one of the reasons I think we can go on is that he really made it an ensemble. He always encouraged the other members of the cast to have more lines and be in scenes. He was very generous as a performer. Whenever we were on stage for anything, he always stood in the back.”