A few months ago, Creed Bratton sat down with the entire cast of The Office to read through the script of last season's penultimate episode – having no idea it would end with his character getting promoted to interim manager. "I get to the bottom of a page and I just start chuckling," he tells Rolling Stone. "I was like, 'Oh my god!" The episode ended with Bratton unloading his meager possessions onto the desk in the manager's office, but they cut a great line. "Originally I was going to pick up the phone," he says. "Then say, 'Ma, guess where I am? Pennsylvania!'"
The season ended with Bratton – who plays a fictionalized version of himself on the show – still in charge of the Dundler Mifflin Sabre Scranton branch. "I don't think Creed wants to leave," he says. "They'll have to get rid of me somehow. They tried to fire me in the Halloween episode, but I get Devon fired. When I got in trouble over a watermark on the paper, I get this person I don't even know fired. I steal money from kids . . . so I'll cling on. I hope they let me do my insanity for a little while longer. I had so much fun during that episode, normally more than I get to do."
The Office begins filming its eighth season on July 25th – but it's still unclear who will become the permanent manager. According to Entertainment Weekly, James Spader is in talks to replace Kathy Bates as the new CEO. "I thought James Spader was brilliant," says Bratton. "Watching him work, I was like 'Wow! How good is he?'"
British comedian Catherine Tate – who played one of the many characters interviewing for the manager position on the season finale – is reportedly a strong contender for the job. "I love her," says Bratton. "She's hysterical. I think there's a problem with her doing a play in London that's kind of conflicting with her schedule, but we'll see . . . maybe we can just keep on with me in charge for a while."
The on-screen promotion comes at a busy time for Bratton. In the new John C. Reilly movie Terri – opening Friday – he plays the uncle, who has Alzheimer's, one of the film's main character. "It's my biggest movie since [1985's] Mask," Bratton says. "I was a little nervous going in doing something so serious. I told the director that the one thing I didn't want to do was have people laugh, saying 'Oh, there's Creed from The Office.' He told me that in the audition he didn't see that character at all. In the end, I was very pleased with my performance. I hope it'll make people see that I'm not just this addled guy from The Office."
Watch these 2010 videos with Creed Bratton where he plays "Sure Sounds Good on You," an unnamed original and talks about The Office: