Exclaim - Gandolfini's Sopranos co-stars and co-hosts of the Talking Sopranos podcast, Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa, were joined by UK Office creator Ricky Gervais in a recent episode, where the three actors spoke about a post-Sopranos world in which the TV mob boss nearly agreed to play the Dunder Mifflin paper boss.
"You know, they talked about having Gandolfini at one point replace him [Steve Carell], did you know that?" asked Imperioli, who played Christopher Moltisanti in The Sopranos.
"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, who played Bobby Baccalieri, revealed. "Jim was going do it because he hadn't worked and it was a number of years removed from when the show ended."
James Gandolfini, quite possibly the most beloved man in America, almost played Michael Scott?!?!?!?!??!?!?! I feel like I'm on drugs. I wish I could give this take from the standpoint of an Office stan, but I only watched the first few seasons & kinda veered off once Jim & Pam got together. Yet you know what standpoint I CAN give this take from? That of a Sopranos superfan.
And let me tell YA- what a world that would've been! Tony motherfucking Soprano as Michael Scott is simply an unfathomable thought. I think an Alien Invasion would've been less odd than seeing Tony Soprano go from beating guys up at the Bada Bing to throwing office parties at Dunder Mifflin. Now, of course, Gandolfini was an actor and was great in other roles like Zero Dark Thirty & Enough Said (if you haven't seen enough said please give it a watch it's an awesome romantic dramedy starring the King & Queen of television a lá Gandolfini & Julia Louis-Dreyfus), but picturing him in an office setting is just too much.
So a big shoutout is in order for the folks over at HBO for paying our guy $3 million for him not to do it to keep the Tony Soprano legacy alive. Of course he was probably still under contract & was in order to play John Turturro's character in the night of, yet it's still way cooler to think they did for the legacy. I just hope I can fall asleep thinking of James Gandolfini in the Office. What a plot twist this was on a Wednesday.