Remaking The Office was always a risky bet, not in the least because even back in the mid-2000s, the original U.K. series had such a formidable reputation. Paul Rudd advised Steve Carell not to do it, calling it a “bad move,” according to the new book Welcome to Dunder Mifflin: The Ultimate Oral History of The Office written by cast member Brian Baumgartner and exec producer Ben Silverman.
“Ugh, don’t do it. Bad, bad move. I mean, it’s never going to be as good [as the British version],” Rudd warned Carell, who became a household name after landing the role of Michael Scott, a mid-level manager who goes from being an aggravating man-child to an endearing father figure through the course of the show’s run. The Office ran for nine seasons on NBC, fighting its way from being the scrappy underdog ignored by its own network to becoming one of the most popular sitcoms of all time.
Not just Rudd, even John Krasinski let his apprehension about the show’s chances of success be known, albeit inadvertently. Krasinski, who played Jim Halpert on The Office, recalled how he was a little too honest about his skepticism ahead of his audition.
When he was asked if he was nervous, Krasinski remembered telling the concerned man:
He was mortified to learn that the person he’d opened up to was none other than Greg Daniels, the creator of the show.
The Office gained steam after a lackluster first season, which, as expected, was unfavorably compared to Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s original. It was only after the show created an identity of its own that it took off. Several cast and crew members recalled in the book how close to being canceled they actually came.
Writer/producer Mike Schur said:
“We teetered on the brink of cancellation so many times … if one thing doesn’t go well, if The 40 Year Old Virgin made twelve million fewer dollars, I think we’re cancelled. It is wild to think about how many things lined up at exactly the right moment.”
Ultimately, it was a couple of totally random things that encouraged NBC to greenlight a second season—the success of The 40 Year Old Virgin, starring Carell in the lead role, and the expected surge of interest in the show on iTunes. All seasons of The Office are available on the Peacock streaming app.