'The Office' Director Paul Feig Recalls a 'Turning Point' Moment in Making Michael Scott Lovable

In a recent interview, Paul Feig explains how Steve Carell’s Michael Scott was turned lovable.
In a recent interview, Paul Feig explains how Steve Carell’s Michael Scott was turned lovable. | Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images

Paul Feig is a talented actor and filmmaker who has leant his experience to a breadth of movies and television shows such as Last Christmas, Bridesmaids, A Simple Favor, 30 Rock, Mad Men, and the recent remake Ghostbusters. Feig is also known for creating the comedy series Freaks and Geeks as well as his frequent collaboration with actress and comedian Melissa McCarthy. Feig's extensive filmography includes directing and producing several episodes of The Office, and according to Collider, he had a key role in helping make Michael Scott a household name.

The filmmaker opened up on the remote interview series Collider Connected about his experience directing The Office. Apparently, Steve Carell’s Michael Scott wasn't resonating with audiences the way the network would have liked at the start. Feig revealed that Carell's role in The 40-Year-Old Virgin helped hone in on the character, specifically while filming the season two episode “Office Olympics.”

"We all kind of realized well [Steve is] lovable in 40-Year-Old Virgin," Feig explained. "So we don’t want to make Michael Scott cuddly and lovable, but we have to be able to at least not just go, ‘Oh he’s such a bore, he’s so mean.’” A turning point for the character came during the scene in "Office Olympics" when Michael takes the stand after winning the workplace competition.

"It's just supposed to be this joke of he thinks he’s getting this big honor and he’s so proud and everybody’s laughing at him behind his back, but Steve made this great choice to get very teary-eyed during it. He got really emotional," Feig explained. For the director, that was when everything finally clicked for the character, as he continued:

“That was kind of this weird turning point where it was harder to cut to people laughing at him because we’re all going, ‘Oh God, this poor guy,’ because he got roped into getting this condo he’s gonna buy and stuff. I think that was the moment where it was like, ‘Oh wait there is a way to do this, he can still be insufferable but he can be well-meaning at the same time.’ He can have moments where right when you think he’s gonna be an idiot, he actually does something smart or has a lucid moment where you kind of vest interest in him.”

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