James Gandolfini almost starred on ‘The Office’, but HBO paid ‘The Sopranos’ star $3 million to remain Tony Soprano forever.
‘The Sopranos‘ premiered on HBO in 1999. It is still regarded as one of the best shows to air on television. It began a legacy of featuring the story around an anti-hero. Despite its popularity, ‘The Sopranos’ ended its run with the sixth season. Actors Michael Imperioli, known for his role as Christopher Moltisanti, and Steve Schirripa, as Bobby Baccalieri on ‘The Sopranos’, launched a new podcast called ‘Talking Sopranos’ in April 2020. The podcast follows ‘The Sopranos’. Together they follow the show episode by episode, revealing unknown inside information, behind the scenes stories, and little-known facts. It further features special guest interviews.
- HBO wanted James Gandolfini to be known as Tony Soprano only
- James Gandolfini almost got cast as Michael Scott
- James Gandolfini to remain Tony Soprano forever
HBO wanted James Gandolfini to be known as Tony Soprano only
In a recent episode, Imperioli and Schirripa featured Ricky Gervais, best known for co-creating the original UK version ‘The Office’. He also starred in the show as David Brent, whose character actor Steve Carell played in the American version.
During the episode, Imperioli asked Gervais: “You know, they talked about having Gandolfini at one point replace [Steve Carell], did you know that”? Gervais revealed that he was not aware of any such situation. Schirripa added, “I think before James Spader, and after 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. That is a fact”. He further revealed that Gandolfini was going to take the role because he had not worked. It had been quite a while since the actor had worked. In response, Gervais jokes, “So, they paid him that to keep the legacy of ‘The Sopranos’ pure?”
James Gandolfini almost got cast as Michael Scott
Steve Carell left ‘The Office’ after the end of its seventh season. He starred as Michael Scott from 2005 to 2010. For portraying the role, Carrell received massive critical acclaim and Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. The American version of the mockumentary series was looking for a replacement for Carell’s Michael Scott. They offered the role to Gandolfini, but then HBO took over. At that time, Gandolfini also had a deal with HBO. He was busy starring in the miniseries ‘The Night Of’. After Gandolfini died in 2013, John Turturro starred in the crime drama that premiered three years later. But the late actor still has an executive producer credit on the hit crime drama show.
James Gandolfini to remain Tony Soprano forever
‘The Sopranos’ was known for mixing dark and disturbing violence with humour. That is why the show is still today applauded for changing the way the storyline of TV series used to work. It might be why HBO wanted fans of the crime drama series James Gandolfini to be known as Tony Soprano only. They did not want his legacy to be tainted by playing the Regional Manager of the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch. However, Gandolfini’s fans would have relished seeing him in a completely comedic role if he had taken on the character of Michael Scott.
The actor had already proved his comedy abilities in ‘The Sopranos’. So, a role in a hit sitcom would have been perfect for Gandolfini’s career as well. Michael Scott’s character on ‘The Office’ got replaced by various actors such as James Spader, Ed Helms, and Catherine Tate.
While on a trip to Rome with his son, James Gandolfini died of a heart attack at fifty-one. Author Brett Martin told TODAY a day after Gandolfini’s death that he had asked producer David Chase what it meant to cast the actor in the lead role on ‘The Sopranos’. It meant everything, according to the producer. Gandolfini gave depth, humanity, and a certain kind of soulfulness to the role, as well as ugliness and anger. It changed television forever.
The son of late James Gandolfini, Michael Gandolfini, will soon play the iconic role of Tony Soprano in David Chase and Alan Taylor’s ‘The Many Saints of Newark’. The prequel movie will release in theatres and HBO Max on 24th September. Tell us if you are excited to watch Michael Gandolfini play Tony in the comment section!