Paul Rudd Almost Ruined Steve Carell’s Best Gig

Paul Rudd once advised Steve Carell not to audition for the role of The Office's Michael Scott, insisting the show would be a failure.

By TeeJay Small | Updated

the office cast

Paul Rudd reportedly told Steve Carell not to sign on as Michael Scott in the American remake of The Office. According to a write-up in the New York Post which cites a cast-written book detailing the behind-the-scenes history of the show, The 40-Year-Old Virgin co-stars discussed Carell’s plan to audition before the show was cast. Paul Rudd apparently replied “Ugh, don’t do it. Bad, bad move. I mean, it’s never going to be as good [as the British version].”

The Office was originally a British television program that followed Ricky Gervais‘ bumbling office manager, David Brent, before being adapted for United States television on NBC by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur. The American version of the show starred Steve Carrell alongside a host of previously unknown actors who are now household names, catapulting many careers to stardom and ranking as one of the biggest sitcoms of all time. But before the show took off, nobody knew the heights it would reach, with Paul Rudd attempting to save Steve Carrell the trouble of shooting what he thought would be a dead-end season of television.

“Ugh, don’t do it. Bad, bad move. I mean, it’s never going to be as good [as the British version].”

Paul Rudd’s advice to Steve Carrell on auditioning for The Office

The previously untold story of Paul Rudd’s poorly realized advice for Steve Carrell comes from the book Welcome to Dunder Mifflin: The Ultimate Oral History of The Office, which is written by Brian Baumgartner, who played Kevin Malone on the hit show, as well as executive producer Ben Silverman. The book features a myriad of cast interviews and behind-the-scenes facts about the production of The Office, as well as never before heard stories from the set. Paul Rudd may have been under the impression that this poorly aged comment had been forgotten, until the release of the book which publicly outed his near-sighted view of the show.

steve carell
Steve Carell in The Office

In fairness to Paul Rudd, nobody knew what a humongous hit the show would grow to become in time, least of all Steve Carrell, who recounts the show constantly being under threat of cancellation. To Rudd’s credit, the first season of The Office is widely panned by critics and fans alike as a poor reskin of the British version, with future seasons changing and adjusting key details in order to carve out their own path. Notably, Carrell’s character of Michael Scott made significant changes in his presentation and behavior between the first and second seasons.

Of course, all ended well for both touchstone comedy actors, with Paul Rudd going on to star in a host of terrific comedy films before joining the ranks of the MCU as Ant Man, and Steve Carrell taking his huge star power from The Office and a subsequent slew of comedies to pursue dramatic acting in projects such as FX’s The Patient.

The Office went on to air for nine seasons, seven of which starred Carrell as Michael Scott, before culminating in 2013’s critically acclaimed finale, which was viewed by over 5.7 million viewers. With his recent Marvel success playing a relatively unknown comic book character, perhaps Paul Rudd’s opinion on taking artistic casting risks has changed.