Michael Scott’s involvement in The Office finale’s “best prank ever” was such a success because no one knew it was coming. And for that to happen, returning star Steve Carell says, he had to flat-out fib.
“I lied,” Carell tells TVLine. “I lied for months to the press, to almost everyone, really. And I felt terribly for the cast and for [executive producer] Greg Daniels, because they all lied, too.”
The actor, who can next be heard in the animated film Despicable Me 2, knew “several months” beforehand that the World’s Best Boss would make an appearance in the series’ swan song but kept mum “because we just figured it would be a fun surprise if people weren’t expecting it.”
In the weeks leading up to the NBC comedy’s goodbye, which aired in May, everyone connected to the show denied the existence of a Carell cameo. On a conference call with reporters, Daniels chose his words carefully as he said, “I think Steve felt, and I agree, that the ‘Goodbye, Michael’ episode was his goodbye and he didn’t want to overshadow the ending that all the other characters deserved.” (Nevertheless, we had an inkling Carell would be back.)
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Carell concurs that he did, indeed, want to avoid being the center of attention as the workplace sitcom rode into the sunset.
“I didn’t want it to be a big thing. I did it out of respect for the show and for the actors,” he says. “My only hope with it was I didn’t want it to be about Michael coming back. I didn’t want the story to be about him in any way. I wanted it to be more of a tip of the hat to the show.” (With reporting by Scott Huver)