‘The Office’: Why The Show Almost Took a Very Different, Dark Turn

It’s the 15th anniversary of The Office. The show quickly became a cult classic and gained a large following after its premiere. It’s one of the few shows that you can rewatch the episodes over and over and still laugh at the jokes. But The Office that we know and love today was almost a very different project. Here’s how The Office came to be what it is today.

The Office
The Office | Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

John Krasinski almost bombed his audition

Back when John Krasinski was auditioning for the role of Jim, he was one of the last people to go in.

“Through the front door came a guy with a salad who sat across from me on the couch and he said, ‘Are you nervous?’ ” Krasinski recalled in the new book The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s by Andy Greene. “And I said, ‘Not so much for the audition, but I’m really nervous for the people who are making this show because so often these translations are just such garbage and I really hope they don’t screw it up because so many people are waiting to kill this show.’ “

“And Greg Daniels said, ‘I’ll try my best. I’m Greg Daniels. This is my show,’” Krasinki said. “I went into the room and everyone was laughing at me because I was such a moron. Everyone was like, ‘Is this the jack*ss that told you the show was going to be ruined? Go for it, kid.’ Weirdly, because everyone was already laughing, the room was really warm and ready to go.”

Unreleased episodes

Though lots of hilarious storylines were featured on the show, some never made it.

“I wanted to do an episode where it started at the beginning of the lunch break and everybody just went off and we followed everyone, what they did for lunch. It would almost be a real-time episode,” writer Jen Celotta said. “I wanted to see them outside — I mean, we do see them outside of the office, going on a job-related mission, or at a party, but I wanted to see the reality of the everyday lunch.”

Who was almost cast as Michael?

Michael Scott was one of the most iconic characters in the series. Now, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Steve Carell in the role, but there were a lot of other actors considered, including Dan Aykroyd, Cedric the Entertainer, Owen Wilson, and Matthew Broderick.

“They made an offer to Paul Giamatti, and that was the days when movie stars did not do TV. So he said no,” casting director Allison Jones recalled. “Then we tried Philip Seymour Hoffman and he said no as well. Back then, actors like that did not touch TV. It was seen as the bottom of the barrel, let me tell you.”

Bob Odenkirk was in the running for the role along with Carell.

“He was excellent and had a good take on the character,” NBC Entertainment division president Kevin Reilly said in the book. “But Bob had an edge to him. His take on Michael was just as funny as Steve’s, but it was darker.”