After months of wondering who would take over Michael Scott’s (Steve Carell) position on The Office, it was finally revealed in the season 8 premiere who will be serving as the new regional manager for Dunder Mifflin. But he wasn’t the first choice.
As it was presented in the premiere, Robert California (James Spader) was originally given Scott’s old position. Unfortunately, upon walking in to the office for his first day, he quickly left in disgust of its inhabitants and headed to Florida - where he talked Jo Bennett (Kathy Bates) out of her old job and became the new CEO of Sabre, Dunder Mifflin’s parent company.
So who is the new boss? Cornell alum Andy Bernard (Ed Helms). Even though Andy was presented as the second choice for the fictional position, the real-life, behind-the-scenes decision about which actor would take Carell’s lead spot is one that has been going on for quite some time.
As soon as Steve Carell announced his plans to depart The Office, producers began to search for someone that could fill the large comedic hole that Carell would leave behind. In August 2010, it was rumored that producers were talking to Danny McBride and Rhys Darby about taking over the position.
Eventually, the rumors regarding McBride and Darby were replaced by ones of Ricky Gervais reprising his role as David Brent on the series. With Gervais jokingly noting that he would never wake up early in the morning, when he currently gets paid on The Office for not doing anything, the search for a new boss began to look within the series’ current cast.
At the end of The Office season 7, a flurry of guest stars were brought in to hint at who might possibly take over the position. While it may have been entertaining, the real-life search was down to three people: Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, and Ed Helms.
Despite having it narrowed down to three candidates, producers didn’t know who would take over as the boss when the seventh season came to a close. It wasn’t until they began to plan out The Office season 8 that a decision was made.
Considering Ed Helms’ rise to fame with The Hangover, he always appeared to be the most likely choice. With an ever demanding schedule, there was always a worry that Helms might depart The Office for something more lucrative.
While it’ll take a few episodes to see how Helms fills the role of the new boss, there’s no denying that he certainly has the comedic chops for the position. Let’s just hope that they’re fully taken advantage of by the writers.
The Office airs Thursday @9pm on NBC