Well, here’s a plot twist: Years after The Office sang its swan song on NBC in 2013, multiple members of the show’s crew say that Steve Carell, who left the show in 2011, had not wanted to leave. The actor, they say, was willing to sign on for a couple more years—but NBC execs never asked him back.
Rolling Stone writer Andy Greene’s book The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s contains interviews with multiple crew members who insist Carell would have been on board for more time with the show. After Carell left, the show’s ratings nosedived.
In excerpts from the book collected from Collider, boom operator/sound mixer Brian Wittle, hairstylist Kim Ferry, and casting director Allison Jones told basically the same story: In 2010, as his contract was running out, Steve Carell noted off-handedly in a BBC interview that Season 7 of the show could be his last. When no one from NBC made any mention of the interview or tried to persuade him to stay, he realized it might really be his last.
“He didn’t want to leave the show,” Ferry says in one excerpt. “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,” Ferry continued, adding later that “the deadline came for when [NBC brass] 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.”
The kerfuffle occurred just as Bob Greenblatt took over for Jeff Zucker as NBC Entertainment chief. The Office producer Randy Cordray blamed Greenblatt for Carell’s exit, telling Greene, “He took The Office for granted.” Greenblatt, meanwhile, said he could not remember specifics, but added, “I think Steve was already departing the show when I arrived. I couldn’t do anything about that since it preceded me.”