The Office fans may never know exactly what happened when Pam said goodbye to Michael in the airport, but it was definitely an unforgettable emotional moment. It turns out that, behind the scenes, there was a funny story involved.
‘The Office’ said goodbye to Michael Scott
The season 7 episode “Goodbye, Michael” saw Steve Carell’s character wrapping up his time at Dunder Mifflin in Scranton to move to Colorado with Holly Flax. While a big party was planned for his last day, Michael decided to give more personal goodbyes to everyone without revealing his plan to leave a day early.
During the August 25 episode of An Oral History of The Office podcast, Carell explained how he pitched the idea for Michael’s goodbye as a way to show his growth over the years.
He shared that he talked with writer Greg Daniels six months before that episode to pitch Michael’s final arc, which would involve him and Holly being together. “I said specifically, on his last day I thought that there should be a party being planned but that he should basically trick people into thinking he was leaving the next day,” he noted.
“I just thought that would be the most elegant representation of his growth as a human being,” Carell said. “The fact that he’d walk away from his big tribute, his big sendoff, and be able to, in a very personal way, say goodbye to each character — that to me felt like it would resonate.”
There’s a funny story behind the Michael and Pam goodbye scene
Throughout the episode, Michael meets with each of his co-workers to say goodbye but he never connects with Pam, who is away from the office that day. She finally catches up with him at the airport just before he leaves and the moment between them is very touching, though viewers never hear their conversation.
Jenna Fischer, who played Pam, explained during the podcast how director Paul Feig instructed her to approach the scene. “Paul Feig said ‘Jenna, I want you to just run up and just say goodbye to Steve, your friend Steve. This is your last scene with him so say goodbye. We’re not going to use the sound, we’re just going to have a spy shot on you,” she explained.
She continued, “So I thought, ‘OK,” so I ran up to Steve and I just told him all the ways I was going to miss him and how grateful I was for his friendship and the privilege of working with him. And I’m sobbing and he’s sobbing and we’re hugging and… and I didn’t want to let him go and I didn’t want the scene to end.”
“And then finally, Paul Feig says ‘cut’ and he was like, ‘Jenna, that was brilliant. Can you do it again but just a little faster?,’” Fischer explained.
She added, “Because it had been like five minutes. He was like, ‘we just need to tighten it up a little.’”
Steve Carell called the episode ’emotional torture’
Though Carell’s ending for Michael was nothing short of perfection, he said that getting through all of those goodbyes was “torture.”
“It was almost more than I bargained for,” he explained. “I had scenes with everyone in the cast and it was emotional torture because imagine saying goodbye for a week,” he explained. “It was just fraught with emotion and joy and sadness and nostalgia.”
He added, “But it was also really beautiful. I treasure it. I treasure just doing that episode because it did allow me to kind of have a finality with everybody.”
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