The Office’s Paul Lieberstein on James Spader, Cast Exits and How Many Seasons The Show Has Left

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In addition to playing the droopiest H.R. rep on primetime, Paul Lieberstein is The Office’s showrunner, a writer and an executive producer. As such, I reluctantly accept his claim that most shocking thing about Steve Carrell’s absence is how everything seemed to remain the same. “Actually, it’s remarkably similar,” Lieberstain told The Hollywood Reporter about the show’s upcoming season. “There were months of discussions about how to tinker with existing characters and enter new ones, but in the end, it continues to be writing for people we hear a voice of very clearly.”

The easy transition is apparently the result of James Spader committing hard as the new unnerving CEO of Sabre. “He has a way of taking on his character so fully, even in rehearsal, that it’s changing the mood on the set,” Liebestein exaplains. “Everyone is discovering who they are with this new energy. It’s like the first day of school – you have your old friends, but there are some new classes and new teachers.

If you were wondering if the show is expecting any more cast exits, or how many more years we can expect to bask in Phyllis’s maternal glow, the answers are “yes” and “not forever.” Says Lieberstein, “I think it has a couple more years, for sure. I think we have a total of eight or nine in us.” As for potential staff turnover, Paul admits, “Probably. It will morph into a new office, maybe the way ER changed. But I think a lot of that was driven by actors having their fill. If people want to stay around here, we are happy to have them. ”