"They're going through the same thing that I went through two years ago," the actor says

By Scott Huver and Tim Nudd
Updated March 13, 2013 06:00 PM
Credit: Kevork Djansezian/AP

Steve Carell knows just how his friends on The Office feel now that the series is winding down – a lot like he felt when he left the sitcom in 2011.

“I just hope they savor it, because it was such a special thing for me and a really moving transition in my life. And it was hard to say goodbye,” the actor, 50, told PEOPLE at Monday’s Hollywood premiere of his new movie, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.

Carell, who played Dunder Mifflin branch manager Michael Scott for seven seasons, says he’s been in touch with all of his old castmates recently, and he feels their pain.

“They’re going through the same thing that I went through two years ago,” he says. “It’s a lot because it was a big part of all of our lives. And we’re all very close. So I understand what they’re going through.”

His empathy, Carell added, is all he can really offer. “There’s no advice that I can give to them,” he said. “They all are so appreciative for what [the show] was to each and every one of us.”

The final episode of The Office is set to air May 16 on NBC. Carell himself will not appear in the finale. Last week, he told CNN why not.

“I figured the character would go back and visit everybody, but he wouldn’t do it on camera at this point,” he said. “I think he had grown past the idea of being in the documentary, that was my take on it I just thought, yeah, he’d go back and visit, but he wouldn’t want the camera crew to be documenting it.”