HBO paid James Gandolfini not to do ‘The Office’
Imagine Tony Soprano replacing Michael Scott in "The Office". Not only did it almost happen but the thought of such an idea had HBO actually paid James Gandolfini not to do it.
Ricky Gervais, who played David Brent in the BBC version that inspired Steve Carrel's character in the American version, was a guest on the "Talking Sopranos" podcast with Steven R Shrippa and Michael Imperioli.
It was during their conversation that it was revealed that James Gandolfini had actually been offered a role to replace Carell's Michael Scott as branch manager of the fictional Dunder Mifflin when he left "The Office" in 2011.
It was Imperioli who made the revelation on the podcast saying "You know, they talked about having Gandolfini at one point replace him (Michael Scott)— did you know that?”
Then Shrippa continued the story.
“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,” he said, concluding, “That’s a fact.”
Of course the Sopranos wrapped in 2007, four years before Carrell left "The Office" and plenty of space between Tony Soprano and his new Office character, which Schrippa says he was actually leaning towards.
“Jim [Gandolfini] was going do it because he hadn’t worked, and it was a number of years removed from when the show ended. To which Gervais asked, ”So they paid him that to keep the legacy of ‘The Sopranos’ pure?”
To which Shrippa replied, "I guess that and also he had a deal with them.”
Could you imagine Tony Soprano running a paper supply office on Scranton? It would be like he was sent into the witness protection program. Then again, if anyone could create a completely different character than Tony Soprano, like Jack Klugman did with Oscar Madison and Quincy, it would be James Gandolfini.
Unfortunately, we'll never know, but that's what they said.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.