T.J. Miller: ‘I’m the hardest-working man in show business, maybe’

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The Hollywood Reporter has a new interview with T.J. Miller, centering on his seemingly out-of-the-blue exit from Silicon Valley. Miller plays fan favorite Erlich, and while most of us who follow entertainment news realized that Miller’s exit meant the character would be leaving soon, we did not know how or when until the season finale last weekend. (I’m several episodes behind this latest season and wanted to warn you that the THR interview leads with major spoilers, which we will not be including here.) Miller’s reasoning for leaving the show is primarily that his schedule is too packed with commitments. He added that he doesn’t get along with one of the showrunners and criticized some of the plot, although he did praise the other two people who write for the show. (Again, in the excerpt below I’m not including specific references to plotlines because I know a lot of you catch up with it later.) Miller also called his exit “a funny trick” to play on everyone on the show. Then he mildly dissed Thomas Middleditch for wanting to be the star of an ensemble show and for asking for his lines to be rewritten. So he had some beefs with people at work. Outlets are calling this interview “bizarre” and it’s definitely hard to follow. Here’s a condensed version:

Why were the producers going to reduce your role in the first place?
Because they had to move the production schedule around. That’s how heavy duty my schedule is. Even the most successful comedy next to Veep on HBO was like this thing that I had to … I’m doing stand-up and I come back and I didn’t sleep at all. I was incredibly busy. People joke about it but I’m the hardest-working man in show business, maybe. So they were like, “Let’s make this easier for both of us.” And I was like, “I think this is an amazing opportunity.”

You don’t think Erlich belonged in the show?
Yeah, nobody likes him. He doesn’t have any friends. His only friend is Jian Yang, and Jian Yang f—ing hates him. I mean, he calls him a “fat loser.” You don’t say that to a friend. Erlich is just the person nobody wants. There’s no reason for him to be there. He’s conned his way into the whole situation. And so I thought it would be really interesting if suddenly they were able to rid themselves of him… So that all interested me, and most of all it made me laugh really hard. That was the impetus behind walking. That’s sort of the impetus behind everything I do: It just makes me laugh.

If you wanted Erlich to be essential to the group, did you have any conversations with the showrunners, Mike Judge or Alec Berg, about possibly moving in that direction?
No, because that was the joke. He never was supposed to be present. I actually think the writing with Erlich gets funnier and funnier the more inessential and irrelevant he becomes. He’s an annoyance. He was an obstacle to this beautiful, perfect thing that all of these people around him were going to create. I didn’t talk to Alec because I don’t like Alec, but I think Mike Judge and [co-executive producer] Clay Tarver are brilliant. Both of them were so accommodating, saying, “Well, what if you just do three episodes?” or “What if you just did the season finale?”

What do you mean you’re not an actor?
I’m not an actor; I’m a comedian. And I don’t know how the f— I hoodwinked Hollywood into giving me a career in this. But I’m not sitting here saying, “I need more lines. I’m not funny enough.” I’m not Thomas Middleditch. I’m me, the guy that thinks all of this is sort of ridiculous. It was a joke. Leaving was a joke that I thought would be a good joke because the show would grow and change. It seemed like a funny trick to play on everyone.

Erlich was iconic out of the gate, and news of your exit spawned headlines like, “Is Silicon Valley Really Silicon Valley Without Erlich Bachman?”
Well, that’s sort of what we’re talking about. A lot of people are writing really interesting stuff about like, “Well, what does happen now?” And I love that. I want to step aside. Thomas Middleditch has always wanted to be a star. He’s always wanted to be the star of the show. So I thought, really, it’s an ensemble show, and if I step aside, the ensemble will each have a little more room… I feel like this is just an interesting thing to do, and I think if you’re a fan, you’re going to continue to be a fan — and I’ll continue to work for you.

What were those final conversations with the network like?
It felt like a breakup with HBO… They were understanding and said, “Look, if you really think that this is the move and that you’ll be able to produce an hour special for us sooner than you would have if you were on the show, and if you feel right now under the current administration that you need to do stand-up because you need to be talking to the American public, then we support that.” So they were very, very cool about it, and that final conversation was super friendly and sad. It was heartbreaking on my end.

From The Hollywood Reporter]

So on one hand he calls his schedule too busy but on the other he say he really wants to f-k up the show by leaving. He calls out Middleditch for trying to work with the writers on his character, but also admits he quit, in part, because he wanted a different storyline for Erlich. Jezebel ran this with a link to Allison Tolman (Fargo) pointing out on Twitter that this interview would be perceived much differently if Miller was a woman. Imagine an actress revealing that they quit a hit show to see how fascinating it would be to force showrunners to adjust? They would be labeled ungrateful, obnoxious and manipulative. Instead Miller is “eccentric” and “quirky” and he’ll get a comedy special with that same network. He’ll even get more work as an actor despite all this. He’s a strong character actor, I don’t think it’s true that he can’t act, but there’s definitely a double standard. In the scheme of things this interview is mild though compared to other actors who still get chances.

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Photos credit: WENN and HBO

 

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47 Responses to “T.J. Miller: ‘I’m the hardest-working man in show business, maybe’”

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  1. Nicole says:

    Read this yesterday and found it bizarre

  2. detritus says:

    At this point I kind of expect most comedians I find funny to be horrible control freaks and/or egomaniacs behind the scenes. Plus I tend to believe they are playing shades of their real character unless I see otherwise.
    He’s very funny, but I am not surprised he’s a catty, self centred egoist.

    I do like Silicon Valley, and Miller is one of the funniest pieces, but current favourite comedy is Letterkenny. If Jared Keeso sucks IRL I’m going to be sad.

    • Erinn says:

      THIS.

      I love TJ. He’s made me laugh in pretty much everything I’ve seen him in. But I don’t doubt for a second that he’s a moody, passive aggressive, control freak. I think that a lot of comedians suffer from that kind of behavior, unfortunately. And I kind of get it. I find myself super amusing (Mostly kidding) and I tend to have pretty strong emotions across the board. Anger, Sadness, Happiness, etc. I think these sorts of things tend to be amplified in people who can find humor in every day, or depressing things.

      I love that you’re watching Letterkenny. I keep meaning to sit down and actually watch it instead of just the odd clip- but I KNOW people like the guys on Letterkenny. I went to college in the valley of Nova Scotia – lots of farmers, lots of guys like this. Everything I’ve seen from them so far has been good though.

      • detritus says:

        I think most true art, and a lot of humor, comes from a dark place, from maybe not the most mentally stable place. The drive to perform that way, to make people laugh, its not quite the same as the drive for fame.

        And for Letterkenny, dooooo iiiiiittttt. I’m actually excited you’ll get to enjoy the full thing for the first time! There are parts that had me in absolute tears.

        If you’ve been exposed to OHL hockey, farming, fundies or the combo of any of the previous, the show will speak to you. Its kind of funny how small-town Canada is very much the same whatever province you head to.

    • ArchieGoodwin says:

      He’s even hilarious as the voice of Ruff Neck (or is it Tuff, I think Ruff) from How to Train your Dragon.

  3. Zuzus Girl says:

    Not a great idea to burn bridges when your career is just taking off (if indeed it is.)

  4. Aiobhan Targaryen says:

    Alison is right. If this was any female actor who did an interview like this that woman would be crucified by everyone and their mama. They would also question her mental health because of all of the incoherent blabbering going on.

    I will admit that this guy was funny as Erlich but he is also right that he was irrelevant to the show. I stopped watching because the show has not progressed in any way since season 2. It is just a waste of time. I doubt this highly but maybe him leaving will give more lines to Kumail and the guy who looks like a serial killer who is hiding out in the woods. Those two guys are actually funny.

    Lastly, he is a slob and looks like he smells like sweaty feet and onions.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      But don’t you think his irrelevance is what made him so funny as a hanger-on? While I will miss his character’s irreverence, I do agree that it didn’t have much further development as the storyline progresses. His character reached its zenith early, and has met its nadir.

      It is such an incredible ensemble cast- the characters are so dependent on one another for their success- except for Bachman. And I agree that Dinesh and Guilfoyle are hilarious ( Jared is also). He’s right, it was time for Bachman to go.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      He had funny moments, but I am REALLY liking the other characters’ humor styles so much better. Gilfoyle, Jared, Dinesh are all incredibly skilled comedic actors. Their different styles play well off of each other.

    • Ange says:

      Yeah I gave up for the same reason. I can’t keep watching shows where people are given amazing opportunities but keep getting in their own way. Stop f*cking up, it’s not that hard!

  5. Jeesie says:

    Every time I read or see an interview with him all I can think is cocaine.

  6. Chelsey says:

    I actually think he was being funny during this whole interview. He’s eccentric and off the wall- that’s his shtick. This was probably him being his usual, absurd comedian self, and maybe it just didn’t translate well in this interview.

  7. Dorothy#1 says:

    I think he was trying to be funny. But maybe I’m just making excuses because I love him!!!

  8. Patricia says:

    He’s freakin hilarious. My husband and I have to pause and rewind the show many times just to see him say a line again and laugh more. He’s had me literally licking my legs laughing.
    So he can go on with his ridiculous self, as long as he keeps it funny. Laughter is the way to my heart obviously.

  9. Isa says:

    The hardest working man in show biz is Danny Trejo.

  10. Cleo says:

    Erlich is my favorite character on the show, and I can’t stand Richard (Thomas Middleditch) anymore, so I will probably stop watching after this season.

    Along with Miller leaving, the show just hasn’t gone anywhere in 4 seasons. They’re still in the incubator, there’s still only one real female character, the storyline is so predictable with the “small victory and then another obstacle” formula, etc. I honestly don’t blame him for leaving.

    • ArchieGoodwin says:

      I agree. It was SO GOOD season 1, but the next have just droned on and on.

      • Cleo says:

        @ArchieGoodwin

        I think the turning point for me was Mia, Dinesh’s hacker gf. The way he and the writers tossed her in the garbage, when she would have shaken things up by being an interesting woman in such a male-dominated show and by changing the dynamic of the show by having one of the guys be in a relationship, was infuriating.

      • AnneC says:

        It feels like plot lines getting VERY recycled. Didn’t even see the 2 women VC’s in last episode. VEEP continues to be really funny and fresh. I hope Silicon Valley comes up with new direction. Maybe they all get rich and then make fun of the wealthy tech bros in the valley.

        Erhlich leaving is bad for the show, but seems like a really douche move. I’m done with him and his interview sounds unhinged.

    • chaine says:

      I so agree. The whole ending of the finale, with the Hooli guy returning and he and Richard vowing to destroy each others’ companies, haven’t we already seen that storyline at least twice, maybe three times? Would have been nice to see the company actually progress to being funded and viable and season focusing on an “Office Space” type comedy. And yes, the dearth of female characters is really off-putting at this point.

  11. grabbyhands says:

    I hate to break it to you, TJ-but Hollywood is littered with examples of actors that thought they were better than the show that put them front and center and of the ones that still have careers, most of them had to come crawling back to the people they’d spent a bunch of time sh*t talking about. I get that you’re a comedian and not an actor, but this kind of dick behavior doesn’t make anyone look good. Or smart.

    Also, you’re in the frigging Emoji movie-is this supposed to be some kind of comedic pinnacle??

    • ArchieGoodwin says:

      well, so is Patrick Stewart so… ? yeah. could be the pinnacle of his career to be in a movie with Patrick Stewart.

      • grabbyhands says:

        The difference being Patrick Stewart has a long, prestigious career behind him. He can take the hit of being in this. I sincerely doubt that anyone is going to look at the guy who few had heard of before Silicon Valley and say, “Wow! He was in a movie about emojis with Patrick Stewart! He MUST be worth watching!”. But I could be wrong.

        You want to concentrate on being a comedian instead of an actor? Fair enough. But don’t act like an arrogant dickhead about it.

  12. k37744 says:

    Wow. Is anyone familiar with his style of comedy? His entire delivery is deadpan absurdist ridiculousness. Even in print. Don’t read his replies literally. Take a deep breath.

    Insider’s tip: he’s a COMEDIAN.

  13. Bridget says:

    He didn’t quit though, he was fired. The show decided to write him out, he didn’t leave.

  14. Nacho_friend says:

    Correction: Seacrest is the hardest working guy in show biz.

  15. Jelly bean says:

    Ugh – when we will actually read an article without “If a woman said this ..”, “If an actress said this..”. Exhausting!

  16. JennyJenny says:

    Isn’t he the guy from Deadpool?

  17. Anon says:

    I live in NYC and work in media so I’ve met a lot of famous people, and he was one of the rudest people I’ve ever met. I said I was a fan, he assumed I was hitting on him, and stuck his tongue down his wife’s throat in front of me. Such a jerk.

  18. skc says:

    Recent stand-up special on cable…not funny. Trying WAY too hard for pseudo-intellectual faux edginess. Pass. Strictly small doses…as in cameo appearances only.