HBO Reportedly Paid James Gandolfini a Staggering Amount of Money Not to Star in ‘The Office’

by Anna Dunn

When most people think of The Office, they think of Steve Carell’s Michael Scott. However, if HBO didn’t offer The Sopranos star James Gandolfini an insane amount of money, that may not have been the case. While the office struggled after Steve Carrell left, it may not have if Gandolfini agreed to go on in his place, but HBO offered the actor 3 million dollars to turn down the offer.

To the dismay of fans, Carell left the hit workplace comedy in 2011. Production had to scramble to keep the show alive without its leading character. And it was a struggle to find the right person. The show had a whole season where it fluctuated between bosses, not quite finding the right person to replace Carell.

The story of HBO offering Gandolfini the money broke on the Talking Sopranos podcast hosted by Steve Schirripa and Michael Imperioli. The two were talking to Ricky Gervais, who starred in the British version of The Office.

“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’s a fact,” Schirripa, who played Gandolfini’s brother-in-law, said on the show.

They proceeded to discuss potential reasons, which still aren’t exactly clear. The Sopranos was long over at that point, but HBO really didn’t want him on the show.

“So they paid him that to keep the legacy of The Sopranos pure?” Gervais guessed.

“I guess that and also he had a deal with them,” Schirripa said.

And while The Office is also long over, The Sopranos is continuing said “legacy” with a new prequel film on HBO called The Many Saints of Newark. Gandolfini’s son, Michael, will star as a young Tony Soprano.

James Gandolfini Passed Away in 2013

Tragically, Gandolfini died unexpectedly of a heart attack while traveling in Italy in 2013. The actor was only 51 at the time. Following the Emmy-winning actor’s passing, countless people paid tribute.

David Chase, who created The Sopranos, had a particularly touching statement regarding the actor’s passing.

“He was a genius. Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes. I remember telling him many times, ‘You don’t get it.  You’re like Mozart.’ There would be silence at the other end of the phone,” he said.  

Gandolfini stunned the world with his outstanding performance as Tony Soprano. He likely would have caused a bunch of laughs if he took that gig on The Office. He’s deeply missed in the entertainment industry, and fans are excited to see his son take on the role of Tony Soprano.

The Many Saints Of Newark will continue on Gandolfini’s legacy. It’ll come out on October 1 in theaters and on HBO Max.