- Dec 11, 2018
But new revelations have pulled back the curtain on the circumstances of Carell’s exit—namely that the insanely talented performer wasn’t actually itching to leave the show at all, and was game to return for at least Season 8. Interviews in Andy Greene’s newly released book The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s claim that Carell’s decision to leave The Office had more to do with network ambivalence than a burning desire to break free from the constraints of a broadcast sitcom.
It all started when Carell gave an interview in April 2010 to the BBC. With the final year of his contract looming, the actor noted that Season 7 would “probably be my last year.” But as Carell explained to The Office boom operator/sound mixer Brian Wittle, it was the reaction to these off-the-cuff comments that actually convinced him it was time to leave:
Hairstylist Kim Ferry backs up Wittle’s recollection of the events, noting that the network decided not to pick up Carell’s option for another season:“I sat with him one time and he told me the story. He was doing a radio interview and he haphazardly mentioned, almost unconsciously, that it might be his last season. He didn’t plan on saying it out loud and he hadn’t decided anything. He was kind of thinking out loud, but he did it in an interview in public and it created news. Then what he said was the people connected to the show had no reaction to it. They didn’t call and say, ‘What? You wanna leave?’ He said he didn’t get any kind of response from them. When he realized he didn’t get any kind of response from them, he thought, ‘Oh, maybe they don’t really care if I leave. Maybe I should go do other things.’ So I think that made it easier, because when the news broke that he was considering it, the people that are in charge of keeping him there didn’t make a big effort to do so until afterward.”
“He didn’t want to leave the show. He had told the network that he was going to sign for another couple of years. He was willing to and his agent was willing to. But for some reason, they didn’t contact him. I don’t know if it was a game of chicken or what… He planned on staying on the show. He told his manager and his manager contacted them and said he’s willing to sign another contract for a couple years. So all of that was willing and ready and, on their side, honest. And the deadline came for when they were supposed to give him an offer and it passed and they didn’t make him an offer. So his agent was like, ‘Well, I guess they don’t want to renew you for some reason.’ Which was insane to me. And to him, I think.”
Ferry says she feels bad because the perception was that Carell was choosing to leave this beloved series, when that wasn’t the truth:
“[Carell] was like, ‘Look, I told them I want to do it. I don’t want to leave. I don’t understand.’ It just is mind-boggling how that happened. And I feel bad because I think a lot of people think he did leave the show on his own merit and it’s absolutely not true. I’m telling you. I was there. I was there. He really wanted to stay. And it devastated all of us because he was the heart of our show.”
The Office: Why Steve Carell Left the Show
Steve Carell didn't actually want to leave The Office in Season 7, as new revelations pull back the curtain on the actor's exit from the NBC series.