Two of the funniest characters to watch interact on NBC's The Office are definitely Toby Flenderson and Michael Scott, played by actors Paul Lieberstein and Steve Carell, respectively. Scenes between the two are full of awkward tension that make you cringe and laugh at the same time. In an interview with Daily Beast back in 2018, Lieberstein reminisced on what it was like working with Carell and how the experience was sometimes intimidating.
The writer/actor remembered filming a scene from the fourth episode of The Office’s first season, titled “The Alliance," where Michael is wrapped up in trying to write the perfect joke on Meredith’s birthday card. When Toby manages to come up with a great joke off the cuff, Michael loses it. “I was going to put that in my message, Toby,” he yells. “So just cross it off. Cross it off now!”
“I just go in, write something quickly, and leave—that’s the scene,” recalled Lieberstein. “But it takes me a while to physically write it, and I could just feel him watching me, and feel that burning. Steve [Carell] told me afterwards that it was in that moment that he just decided to hate me so much.” Apparently, working with such a talented comedian came with certain pressures. “It’s terrifying acting with Steve," Lieberstein continued. "He misses nothing. If you slip in any way, he pounces—just in a fun way, but it’s embarrassing.”
You can check out a compilation of other hilarious moments between the two characters below.
Being on the set of The Office sounds like it was really fun, even if it was scary being around the comedic genius that is Steve Carell! If you're looking to learn more behind-the-scenes facts about the workplace comedy, check out a book by Andy Greene called The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History. You can buy it here.