James Gandolfini turned down a role on ‘The Office’ after HBO paid him $3 million not to take it, according to his ‘Sopranos’ costars

A side by side image of James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano and Steve Carell as Michael Scott.
James Gandolfini and Steve Carell. HBO and NBC
  • James Gandolfini was reportedly paid $3 million to decline a role on “The Office.”
  • According to Gandolfini’s “Sopranos” costars, the late actor was in talks to replace Steve Carell.
  • But HBO paid Gandolfini a hefty sum to turn down the opportunity, MIchael Imperioli said.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

James Gandolfini reportedly turned down a role on “The Office” after HBO paid him $3 million, according to the late actor’s costars.

Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa played Christopher Moltisanti and Bobby Baccalieri, respectively, on “The Sopranos” alongside Gandolfini, who famously led the cast as Tony Soprano.

During a recent episode of Imperioli and Schirripa’s “Talking Sopranos” podcast, the two revealed to guest Ricky Gervais that Gandolfini was at one point in talks to replace Steve Carell on the US version of “The Office.”

“You know, they talked about having Gandolfini at one point replace him – did you know that?” Imperioli asked Gervais, who played David Brent (the British counterpart of Carell’s Michael Scott) on the original UK series that inspired the NBC version.

Schirripa corroborated Imperioli’s recollection of events, telling listeners, “I think before James Spader and after [Steve] Carell, they offered [Gandolfini], 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 added.

The Sopranos Tony Soprano pool
Gandolfini as Tony Soprano in HBO’s long-running mob drama ‘The Sopranos.’ Anthony Neste/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Schirripa and Gervais speculated that perhaps HBO wanted to help maintain Gandolfini’s legacy as a “Sopranos” star, or that it had something to do with the network’s miniseries “The Night Of,” which Gandolfini was set to star in and executive produce at the time HBO ordered it in 2012. (Following Gandolfini’s death in 2013, John Turturro was tapped to star in the crime drama, which eventually premiered in 2016.)

Representatives for HBO and NBC didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

Carell starred as Michael Scott on “The Office” from 2005 to 2010, and received critical acclaim – including several Emmy and Golden Globe nominations – throughout his run.

After Carell left the show following the expiration of his contract at the end of season seven, various actors including James Spader, Ed Helms, and Catherine Tate were featured on the show as replacements for Carell’s character.

Gandolfini famously starred as Tony Soprano on HBO’s mobster drama from 1999 to 2007. The actor died in 2013 from a heart attack, but his son Michael is playing a younger version of Tony in the upcoming “Sopranos” prequel film “The Many Saints of Newark.”