James Gandolfini Was Reportedly Paid Millions to Turn Down 'The Office'

·2-min read

Wanna feel old? It's been a decade—ten years!—since 2011, when we all sat around wondering how the hell NBC would find a half-suitable replacement for Steve Carell in The Office. For better or worse, there's really no following up his Michael Scott.

Of course, the sitcom would eventually settle on a rotation of bosses, like Will Ferrell, Catherine Tate, and James Spader. Apparently, though, NBC had a different fix in mind: James Gandolfini, a couple years removed from the end of The Sopranos. According to the Talking Sopranos podcast, which is hosted by two of the former stars—Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa—we weren't far off from a reality where Gandolfini was a Dunder Mifflin regional manager. In an interview with Ricky Gervais, the star of the U.K.'s The Office, the comedian had been praising Steve Carell when Imperioli delivered the news.

“You know, they talked about having Gandolfini at one point replace him [Carell], did you know that?” Imperioli asked. “I think before James Spader and after [Steve] Carell, they offered Jim, I want to say $4 million, to play him for the season, and HBO paid him $3 million not to do it. That’s a fact.”

Although Gandolini's brush with the workplace comedy has already been reported by Andy Greene, who wrote The Office (The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History), this is the first time we've heard of HBO's involvement in his rejection of the part. Schirripa said HBO forking out the hefty sum might've been due to Gandolfini's ongoing deal with the company at that point. (He was developing The Night Of at the time.) Still, though, you can't help but wonder what would've happened if freakin' Tony Soprano walked into Scranton and busted up the likes of Dwight Schrute and Jim Halpert. Would've been a little scarier than Spader, no?

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