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Here the Real Story Behind Why Steve Carell Left 'The Office'

Gettyimages | Dia Dipasupil
By Francesca O'Hern

Steve Carell's Michael Scott was the center of The Office, both in an emotional capacity and in terms of the plot. His funny, heartbreaking, nuanced, and totally unique performance as the "World's Best Boss" propelled him to fame and was one of the main reasons for The Office's success. In his new book, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, Office writer Andy Green reveals a gold mine of behind-the-scenes information about the show, including why Carell left after season 7.

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It Wasn't Entirely Carell's Choice

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In his book, Greene interviews many who were involved in the production of The Office to put together the story of Carell's exit. According to hairstylist Kim Ferry, Carell mentioned on a radio show that he might leave after season 7, which executives apparently took to mean he was definitely leaving. "He had told the network that he was going to sign for another couple of years," she explained. "He told his manager and his manager contacted them and said he’s willing to sign another contract. And the deadline came for when [the network was] supposed to give him an offer and it passed and they didn’t make him an offer."

Many Factors Influenced the Decision

Gettyimages | NBC

This apparent misunderstanding was not the only reason Carell's contract was not renewed. Payment may have also been a factor. By season 7, Carell was a pretty big star, and was likely worth more than NBC was willing to pay him. "As I recall, he was going to do another season," began Casting Director Allison Jones, "and then NBC, for whatever reason, wouldn’t make a deal with him. Somebody didn’t pay him enough. It was absolutely asinine. I don’t know what else to say about that. Just asinine."

A Change in Leadership Could Have Influenced the Decision, Too

Gettyimages | Tim P. Whitby

It looks like the decision was also a little political, per Greene's account. While all this was happening, NBC was switching its chairman from Jeff Zucker to Bob Greenblatt. According to Randy Cordray, another writer on the show, was "not as big a fan of The Office as we wished he would’ve been. He took ‘The Office’ for granted." Because Greenblatt did not push for Carell to stay on the show, or even offer him another contract, Carell decided to move on to other projects.

Greene Cleared Things Up

Gettyimages | NBC

Greene made sure to include parts of his interview with Kim Ferry in which she clarified that it was not Carell's decision to leave the show. "[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." The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s was published on March 24 and is available wherever books are sold.

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