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Dwight Schrute was almost the Assistant to Regional Manager Tony Soprano. If NBC had had their way, James Gandolfini would’ve been entertaining thoughts of bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Instead, HBO shelled out $3 million to keep Gandolfini away from Dunder Mifflin.
Comedian Ricky Gervais, who rose to fame in the BBC’s version of The Office, joined Sopranos co-stars Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa on their “Talking Sopranos” podcast and dropped the bomb that Gandolfini was offered a significant role in The Office. Gandolfini would’ve replaced Michael Scott as branch manager after actor Steve Carell left, following the show’s seventh season.
We are super excited to have our good pal and celebrity superfan @rickygervais join us this week! Episode 68 of #talkingsopranos is available at https://t.co/xLfLLIJVkp and everywhere else you enjoy your podcasts from. pic.twitter.com/N7JzPfTElh
— Talking Sopranos (@talkingsopranos) July 12, 2021
“I think before James Spader and after [Steve] Carell, they offered Jim (Gandolfini), I want to say, $4 million to play him for the season — and HBO paid him $3 million not to do it,” Schirripa said, “That’s a fact.”
Gandolfini, who passed away just over a month after The Office series finale aired in 2013, appeared set to take the role. “[Gandolfini] was going do it because he hadn’t worked, and it was a number of years removed from when (The Sopranos) ended,” said Schirrpa.
The Sopranos wrapped in 2007 and Gandolfini’s role in The Office would’ve started around 2011, had HBO not fattened the wallet of TV’s most recognizable gangster.
Seeking confirmation, Gervais asked the hosts: “So they paid him that to keep the legacy of The Sopranos pure?”
“I guess that and also he had a deal with them,” said Schirripa, before referencing another project Gandolfini was developing with HBO at the time.
This could’ve been huge.
That’s what she said.