After Carell left his role as Michael Scott on the beloved comedy show in 2011, Gandolfini was touted as one of his potential replacements but the part eventually went to James Spader.
Speaking on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, Novak said: “I was at the meeting with James Gandolfini where we tried to convince him to join the show.”
He continued “I did [feel like he wanted the role]. It was interesting, we suggested sort of a white collar character to play against type, and he said something I’ll never forget — he said, ‘I feel as an actor, whoever comes out at 3 am, that’s who you should be playing. And at 3 am what comes out of me is a blue collar guy.’”
Novak also revealed Gandolfini’s favourite movie: “He was a big comedy fan — his favorite movie was The Rocker starring Rainn Wilson.”
Novak, who also starred in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, went on to discuss Gandolfini’s legacy and that of The Sopranos: “He’s my favorite actor of all time in anything, so I just thought it would be great because, to me, The Sopranos was actually the biggest influence on The Office because of the way that comedy and drama and character were all completely indistinguishable.”
The rumour of Gandolfini replacing Carell on The Office was previously discussed by Gandolfini’s former co-star, Steve Schirripa, on his podcast Talking Sopranos.
He said: “I think before James Spader and after Carell, they offered [Gandolfini], I want to say, $4m (£3.4m) to play him for the season — and HBO paid him $3m (£2.5m) not to do it.”
Gandolfini died in 2013, aged 51. His son Michael can currently be seen in Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints of Newark, playing a younger version of his father’s character.
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