Jeremy Piven as Dunder Mifflin's Michael Scott? Why the Entourage Star Turned Down the Lead Role in The Office

02/25/2016 AT 03:00 PM EST

It's hard to imagine The Office without Steve Carell in charge (or rather, "in charge") of Dunder Mifflin's Scranton branch – but as it turns out, the role almost went to Jeremy Piven, who we have to thank for another iconic TV character: Entourage's Ari Gold.

Jeremy Piven as Dunder Mifflin's Michael Scott? Why the Entourage Star Turned Down the Lead Role in The Office| The Office, TV News, Jeremy Piven, Steve Carell

Jeremy Piven (left) and Steve Carell

Michael Loccisano / Getty; Justin Lubin

In an interview for Cigar Aficionado magazine's April cover story, Piven, 50, explains why he turned down the lead role of Michael Scott on the U.S. version of The Office.

"They came to me initially for the American version ... I was such a huge Ricky Gervais fan from the British version," Piven told the magazine. "I thought, 'How could anyone possibly play that character better than he did?' It was this perfect blend of nerdy cockiness in the way he navigated the space. So I turned it down."

Carell was eventually cast and starred on the hit NBC series from its first season until 2011, when he bowed out during season 7. Piven, meanwhile, took on the role of manic, foul-mouthed agent on HBO's Entourage.



"I knew that if I made the character seemingly a pig who couldn't complete a sentence without looking at a woman passing by, it wouldn't work. But if I made him someone who was monogamous who just appeared to be a pig, that duality would go a long way," Piven said of playing Gold.

As for his real-life self, the three-time Emmy winner doesn't have much in common with the role: "People are disappointed when they meet me. People would be shocked to know who I really am."

RELATED VIDEO: Jeremy Piven Rubs Elbows with the Royals: 'Harry Kept Calling Me Ari, Which Was Awkward'


Piven's brother-in-law, movie director Adam McKay, also dished to the magazine about what Piven is like off-screen: "He's kind of the opposite of Ari Gold. He's into health and spirituality. He trains a lot and meditates. When I think of Jeremy, he’s about to go do yoga on a beach somewhere."

Piven is currently starring as the lead on PBS' Mr. Selfridge, a role he said he was eager to play because it was Gold's antithesis: "someone who leads through love and light, instead of intimidation."

As for what plans he has for the near-future, the actor admits he wants to have a family, "and it's time."

"But I've been married to my job," he admitted. "The proof is there on my IMDb page."
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