HBO Paid James Gandolfini to Turn Down 'The Office'

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We have to admit, this one really took us by surprise. In a recent episode of the Talking Sopranos podcast, we learned how James Gandolfini nearly became the boss at Dunder Mifflin. Yes - you read that right.

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Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa, former stars of Sopranos, now host a podcast called Talking Sopranos, which rehashes details from the legendary series. And on July 12th, they were joined by the iconic British comedian Ricky Gervais. And Imperioli had some interesting insight to share about behind-the-scenes deals that took place between HBO and the late James Gandolfini.

Michael Imperioli Steve Schirripa
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"I think before James Spader and after [Steve] Carell, they offered Jim — I want to say $4 million — to play him for the season," Michael revealed. But before Gandolfini could join the crew at Dunder Mifflin, his former network stepped in. "HBO paid him $3 million not to do it," Imperioli remembered. "That's a fact."

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Safe to say that Gervais, like many of us, was in shock. "So they paid him that to keep the legacy of The Sopranos pure?" Ricky asked. "Well, that's a good decision." Of course, Ricky was referring to the utterly polar differences between Sopranos and The Office. After fans of the HBO drama saw James as a tough mob man for six seasons, it would be quite the adjustment to see him take on the NBC comedy. But according to Steve, James had been open to the idea.

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"Jim was going to do it because he hadn't worked, and it was a number of years removed from when the show ended," Schrippa shared with his podcast co-host and guest. But at the end of the day, it never came to be because of a "deal" that James had with HBO. Another project titled The Night Of was in the midst of development and had the famous actor as a cast member.

Unfortunately, the late star never got to see the series come to fruition because it aired in 2016, three years after he passed. Safe to say, this nugget of TV knowledge took us by surprise. Stay tuned for more news and everything comedy-related.