'The Office' Star On James Spader Replacing Steve Carell: 'It Was Just Different'

12 June 2020 | 9:36 am | Neil Griffiths

"I thought he's just so fascinating as an actor... he's James Spader!"

Fans of The Office still debate to this day whether the iconic comedy show should have called it quits when Steve Carell bid farewell at the end of season seven in 2011.

Instead, the NBC series went on for two more seasons and while the final season was praised by fans and critics alike, it was season eight that hit a speed bump. An office without Michael Scott was always going to be a big task but the introduction of legendary actor James Spader as the mysterious and intimidating Robert California was the show's answer to the hole left by Carell. 

While many fans have warmed up to that season in recent years, the immediate response was mixed at best - ratings dropped and some believed the character of Robert California simply did not fit in well with the characters of Dunder Mifflin. 

Appearing on the latest episode of The Green Room with Neil Griffiths podcast, The Office cast member Creed Bratton said the departure of Carell was "rough" but gave other characters a chance to shine.

"I think a lot of us thought it's going to be rough without [Carell], but there is also the possibility that we're gonna have the chance to show a little more of what we can do," Bratton told host Neil Griffiths.

"I thought [Spader was] just so fascinating as an actor... he's James Spader!

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"Maybe selfishly, I was so busy watching him work. On the way to set we'd walk together and talk and he's one of those guys that has a photographic memory and he can just glance down at his lines. Bam - memorise it just like that."

Bratton said there is no point in comparing the characters of Michael Scott and Robert California because the two are so different.

"It's just comparing. It's not fair. It's not Steve Carell. But in its own way, it was weird and kind of wonderful what Spader did. And the contrast - it was just different," he said.

"I enjoyed Spader and maybe it didn't work like it used to, but it was just different. You could say that [for] Idris Elba too [Elba appeared as a special guest in seven episodes in 2009]; maybe that wasn't always hilarious, but it still worked in its own way... because he's a great actor."

Bratton is set to embark on a debut tour of Australia next March; for more details, click on theGuide.

Listen to the full The Green Room episode with Bratton on Spotify, Apple Podcasts (below) or wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts.