We've known for some time that this current seventh season of The Office will be the last season featuring Steve Carell. Now it seems he will be leaving even earlier, about one month before the Season 7 finale in May. Here's what executive producer Paul Lieberstein, who also plays Toby on the show, had to say about Steve Carell's departure:

Steve will have a number of episodes that dramatize and lead up to Steve leaving. Then we'll continue on for about four more episodes, and the spring will prove to be not about an actor leaving, but what happens in an office when a manager leaves and the chaos ensues and people vie for the job and are uncertain about their future."

Paul Lieberstein went onto say that this method was chosen to put the focus on how Michael Scott's departure will affect the characters, and not the actor leaving the show:

It was about focusing the spring on the office and everybody else, and not just a character going. If the show was ending, it would be about that. But it's not."

Paul Lieberstein wouldn't comment on who Michael Scott's office replacement will be, but said that they are exploring possibilities already inside Dunder-Mifflin and new outside candidates as well. Mindy Kaling's character Kelly is a possible replacement, as is Craig Robinson's Daryl, Rainn Wilson's Dwight and Ed Helms' Andy.

The second half of The Office's seventh season will start up with new episodes on Thursday, January 20 at 9 PM ET on NBC.