Steve Carell has confirmed that he is leaving NBC's "The Office" after next season.
"I just think it's time," he told E! News on the red carpet for "Despicable Me," the upcoming animated movie he provides a voice for. "I want to fulfill my contract. When I first signed on, I had a contract for seven seasons, and this coming year is my seventh. I just thought it was time for my character to go."
Fans might disagree, but Carell seems to think the show can go on without his clueless boss, Michael Scott. "It doesn't certainly mean the end of the show," he said. "I think it's just a dynamic change to the show, which could be a good thing, actually. Add some new life and some new energy. ... I see it as a positive in general for the show."
While Carell was a "Daily Show" correspondent and Will Ferrell's weatherman sidekick in "Anchorman" prior to the 2005 premiere of the American "Office," the ad-lib-heavy comedy made him a household name. His breakout movie role in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" soon followed, and he's had a string of big-screen work since, from "Little Miss Sunshine" to the upcoming "Dinner for Schmucks" with Paul Rudd.
With his exit announcement, Carell expects things to be business as usual for the rest of the gang over at Dunder Mifflin.
"I didn't see it as a huge thing, and I certainly didn't anticipate any sort of hubbub over it," he said. "I'm just not going to extend my contract, but I didn't see it as a huge deal. And the show is great, and the ensemble is so strong, and the writers are great, so it's just one part of that ensemble drifting off. They've incorporated so many new characters and so many new, great story lines that I have no doubt it'll continue as strong if not stronger than ever."
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