Bob Odenkirk Knows Why Steve Carell Beat Him Out to Play Michael Scott on ‘The Office’

Bob Odenkirk thinks he was too “earnest” to play paper company boss Michael Scott, which is why Steve Carell ultimately beat him out for the iconic role on “The Office.”

“I am, in a strange way, a very earnest person for a person in comedy,” Odenkirk shared on the “Office Ladies” podcast. “I am oddly earnest, and … it’s one of the reasons I think Steve Carell is a better, you know — is the one who got the role.”

Although it’s hard to imagine Scott being played by anyone but Carell, it was a close battle between the two actors. The “Better Call Saul” star went on Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey’s podcast to discuss his audition experience, explaining what gave Carell a leg up when competing for the comedic role.

“There were other parts that I think I was up for that Steve got, and it’s because he’s better at being genuinely fun,” Odenkirk admitted. “I think I bring with me a little bit too much earnest seriousness, and it’s just kind of there. And there’s nothing I can do about it except play other roles where it’s helpful to have that. And, you know, you just don’t believe me as a purely light character. You just are looking for the darkness, and that’s actually great in drama. That’s a plus, you know? But in comedy, it’s not a plus.”

Despite losing the role to Carell, his journey at Dunder Mifflin did not end there. Any true “Office” fan will remember his appearance in the final season — where he played Scott’s personality doppelgänger. During the episode “Moving On,” Odenkirk was the manager of a Philadelphia-based real estate company, who interviewed Pam (Fischer) while she was searching for jobs in the city.

He said he used the opportunity to “show people what [he] would have done” if he had been initially cast on the NBC sitcom.

“The idea was, Pam’s going to go in for an interview at this real estate office … and they thought it would be really funny if it was like her life was going to repeat itself now in Philadelphia. And her boss is basically Michael Scott,” Odenkirk told Fischer and Kinsey.

“I do think that what I was doing was more a tribute to Steve, because that’s what I was supposed to be doing … my character was meant to be very much a version of what Steve had invented when he played the character,” the actor concluded.

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