Studio grants actor's request to exit

James Spader is leaving “The Office” early.

The network confirmed the Emmy-winning actor isn’t going to return for a ninth season of the NBC series, a decision made at the actor’s behest.

“James always wanted this to be a one-year arc, and he now leaves us having created one of the most enigmatic and dynamic characters in television,” said “Office” executive producer Paul Lieberstein. “He’s been a great friend to me and the show, helping us successfully transition into the post-Michael Scott years, and I’m grateful for that.”

Spader was brought in full-time last September as the enigmatic CEO Robert California after a memorable turn in the previous season’s star-studded finale. Though deemed a series regular, his contract called for him to appear in a mininum of 15 episodes, with an option for more if necessary.

Spader stepped into “Office” during a season that marked the series first without star Steve Carell, though he wasn’t replacing Carell. He was taking over for Kathy Bates, who previously played CEO before going off to anchor another NBC series, “Harry’s Law.”

Unknown is whether Spader’s character will be written out of the show this season or whether his departure will be explained next year.

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