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HBO Reportedly Paid James Gandolfini To Not Accept Lead Role In The Office

July 15, 2021 | Posted by Ashish
The Sopranos

After it was revealed last year in The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History by Andy Greene that The Sopranos star James Gandolfini was the top candidate to replace Steve Carell as the boss on The Office (the role ended up going to James Spader), Sopranos co-stars Michael Imperioli and Bobby Schirripa revealed on the Talking Sopranos podcast that HBO actually got involved during Gandolfini’s negotiations and paid him to not take the role.

“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 said. “That’s a fact.”

Schirripa added that Gandolfini was interested in the role because “he hadn’t worked and it was a number of years removed from when the show [The Sopranos] ended.”

Ricky Gervais, who created the original British version of The Office, was also on the podcast and wondered if HBO paid Gandolfini to keep the legacy of The Sopranos pure, but Schirripa said it had more to do with keeping the actor from NBC since he was developing The Night Of for HBO.

“I guess that and also he had a deal with them. He was doing The Night Of, developing that,” Schirripa said.

In The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History, Greene noted that Gandolfini met with writers and producers including Brent Forrester, Daniel Chun, B.J. Novak and Teri Weinberg and even accepted the role at one point, before wavering and deciding not to do it.

“I remember him being really, really complimentary, but he wasn’t super familiar with the show,” Chun said in the book. “He had watched a few episodes and was really unsure about comedy. He was like, ‘I don’t one hundred percent know how to play this.’”

Chun added that Gandolfini may have had hesitations about “the idea of helming what was one of the biggest comedies on TV.”

(h/t The Hollywood Reporter)

article topics :

James Gandolfini, The Office, Ashish