Though he had a long career in comedy prior to taking the role, many people know Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman. The actor has played the colorful lawyer on-and-off for over a decade between his work on Breaking Bad and the spin-off series Better Call Saul. It’s hard for fans to imagine his career going another way, but Odenkirk came very close to playing a different guy in a suit.
In the video below, you can watch a clip from Bob Odenkirk’s audition for Michael Scott for the U.S. adaptation of The Office. Several actors were considered for the part—including Patton Oswalt, Rick Moranis, and Philip Seymour Hoffman—but few got as far as the Mr. Show comedian. Though he takes a different approach to the character than Steve Carell, it’s easy to imagine a proto-Saul Goodman running Dunder Mifflin.
Watch Bob Odenkirk audition for Michael in The Office
He didn’t land the gig, but he made enough of an impression to secure a cameo on the show years later. In an episode titled “Moving On” in the final season, Pam interviews at a new office where Odenkirk is in charge. To her horror, she discovers that her would-be boss is basically an alternate-timeline version of Michael Scott—a joke that lands even harder when you know the actor’s history with The Office.
Ultimately, Steve Carell’s performance in Bruce Almighty (2003) helped give him the edge over Odenkirk with the show’s producers. Fans of both actors can’t complain about how things turned out; Carell played Michael Scott for seven years, and Odenkirk took his star-making role in Breaking Bad in 2009—a part he’s still playing 13 years later.