One Star Of The Office Was Happy James Spader Replaced Steve Carell

Phyllis Smith played Phyllis Vance on The Office, and says that James Spader brought a different energy to the set that was fun to explore after seven seasons with Steve Carell.

By Sean Thiessen | Published

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The Office ended nearly a decade ago, but the series has remained a cultural staple. The show underwent major shifts over its nine season run, the largest of which was the departure of Steve Carrell after season seven. In an interview with MovieWeb, Phyllis Smith, who played Phyllis Lapin-Vance on the show, said Carell’s replacement, James Spader, was a welcome addition to the series.

“James Spader brings a different kind of energy to the set. He is lovely. Really nice,” Smith told MovieWeb. “The process is different than it was with Steve Carell… His approach to things is different. He is really interesting to work with.” James Spader joined The Office as the magnetic Robert California, Dunder-Mifflin’s Scranton branch regional manager after Michael Scott. He brought a slower, quieter humor to the show than Steve Carell did, but he managed to be just as inappropriate.

Fans are divided on the direction The Office took after Steve Carell left the show. For Phyllis Smith, the introduction of James Spader opened the door for new opportunities, but it also left the show’s writers and cast to establish new character dynamics. She described the process as exciting, but admitted that filling the Steve Carell void was a challenge for everyone involved.

Despite the show’s altered DNA, it finished strong and has been held dear by fans ever since. The frequently syndicated series also enjoys life on streaming, courtesy of Peacock. But despite its run on NBC having long since come to a close, the story of The Office may not be over yet.

Greg Daniels, who developed The Office for American television, and NBC have expressed interest in rebooting the show. Daniels is a busy man juggling a multitude of series, but if he does come to NBC with a pitch for a reboot, the show would almost certainly be a go. Daniels expressed that a return to The Office would focus on new characters in the same world, but that wouldn’t prohibit him from having some original cast cameos.

James Spader in The Office

The cast of The Office have gone on to brilliant careers. Mindy Kaling, B.J. Novak, and John Krasinski have had notable success behind the camera as writers and directors. Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey host the Office Ladies podcast in which they discuss behind the scenes details of each episode of The Office, and Steve Carell has starred in award-winning films and TV series of his own.

After The Office, James Spader tried to destroy the world as the evil Ultron in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, a role he is rumored to return to in a future Marvel project. For the past decade, Spader has also led the acclaimed NBC series The Blacklist, which will begin its tenth and final season February 26, 2023 on NBC.

Phyllis Smith was the voice of Sadness in Pixar’s Inside Out, and will reprise the role in the film’s upcoming sequel. She also starred in the Netflix mystery series The OA and the wacky Kristen Wiig comedy Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. 

The legacy of The Office is undeniable. The series remained fresh and innovative as its cast evolved. Whether or not the world of The Office continues in the future, its past will live on with fans for years to come.