Steve Carell, who rose to prominence as the goofy haphazard office manager in the US version of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s The Office, has revealed that the show gave him a troublesome acting habit. While the British sitcom only ran for two seasons plus Christmas-special episodes, Carell’s continued for nine seasons between 2005 and 2013.
The star, who has since found success in several blockbusting movies, including Despicable Me and Crazy, Stupid Love, revealed that playing the role of Michael Scott in the mockumentary-format show affected how he interacts with the camera. In most TV acting, the camera is the last place an actor is asked to look, but in The Office, the cameraman is a crucial presence.
“I have never had a job where I didn’t look into the camera at some point,” Carell explained as he sat alongside his former fellow cast members Angela Kinsey (Angela) and Jenna Fischer (Pam) on their popular podcast about the show, Office Ladies.
In response, Kinsey admitted that she has struggled with the same habit in her work after The Office. “Same for me! I actually had a director say, ‘Um, Angela. You just looked right down the barrel,’” she told Carell.
Elsewhere in the Office Ladies episode, which, per tradition, hears the hosts and guests react to rewatches of the beloved show, Carell revealed that he had only watched one minute of the original UK series before starting his role in the US version. This was because he wanted to avoid subconscious mimicry of Ricky Gervais’ version of the office manager, David Brent.
“I chose not to watch the British version because I didn’t want that to influence whatever this version was going to be,” he said. “[Gervais] was clearly so great at it; he was such a distinctive character. I didn’t want to do an impression of him.”