'The Sopranos' Star James Gandolfini Almost Played Michael Scott in 'The Office'

Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa say HBO paid the late actor $3 million to turn down the role

BY Allie GregoryPublished Jul 14, 2021

As synonymous as Steve Carell is with his role as Michael Scott on The Office, there was a time where his role was almost given to someone equally iconic: Tony Soprano himself, the late James Gandolfini.

Gandolfini's Sopranos co-stars and co-hosts of the Talking Sopranos podcast, Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa, were joined by UK Office creator Ricky Gervais in a recent episode, where the three actors spoke about a post-Sopranos world in which the TV mob boss nearly agreed to play the Dunder Mifflin paper boss.

"You know, they talked about having Gandolfini at one point replace him [Steve Carell], did you know that?" asked Imperioli, who played Christopher Moltisanti in The Sopranos.

"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," Schirripa, who played Bobby Baccalieri, revealed. "Jim was going do it because he hadn't worked and it was a number of years removed from when the show ended."

"So they paid him that to keep the legacy of The Sopranos pure?" Gervais joked in response.

"I guess that and also he had a deal with them," Schirripa answered, adding, "[HBO's] The Night Of, he was developing that"

The tale of The Sopranos is about to be resurrected by the original series creator, David Chase, in the form of a prequel starring Gandolfini's son, Michael. The Many Saints of Newark is due to arrive in theatres and on HBO Max on October 1. 

Watch Schirripa and Imperioli interview Gervais below.

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