Fans of “Silicon Valley” were not happy to hear the news that breakout star T.J. Miller had abruptly left the show after its fourth season, but in an explosive new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the show’s cast and producers open up about the comedian’s messy departure and the out-of-control behaviour that preceded it.
As Miller told THR in an earlier interview shortly after the news broke, he compared his exit to a “breakup” and revealed that he decided to leave after learning his role had been vastly reduced in the upcoming season.
While members of the cast didn’t want to go on the record about details, THR says some made “veiled references” to Miller’s “demons,” some sources tell THR that Miller — who was subsequently accused of sexual assault — was unpredictable, often late and sometimes would simply not show up on the set, with one source stating that Miller would “show up seemingly under the influence, if he showed up at all.”
“There are a lot of different ways you can find out somebody doesn’t want to do the show anymore,” says series co-creator Mike Judge. “And it’s not fun to work with someone who doesn’t want to be there, [especially when] they’re one of the main people and you’ve got however many crew members and extras and people who are [not paid as well] and they’re all showing up before 7 a.m., and then are just like, ‘Oh, okay, we’re not shooting today.'”
According to THR, “table reads would start late as the cast and crew waited on the untameable actor, and when he did arrive he typically hadn’t cracked open the script. Schedules would regularly have to be rejigged, and sources from the set recount tales of Miller falling asleep between takes, leaving cast and crew to nudge him awake. And though everybody involved with the series praises his raw talent — some even employing the word ‘genius’ to describe him — many say it had become impossible to predict which Miller would show up on a given day.”
One insider tells THR, “There was almost a danger to having him around. He was explosive, and there were moments where you’d go, ‘Whoa, that’s not where I thought that was going at all, but that was f**king awesome’… but it was a trade-off.”
“It just wasn’t working,” says Judge, telling THR he, the show’s producers and HBO presented Miller an offer for season five that would only see him appear in three episodes before his character, pot-smoking Erlich Bachman, would be written out of the show. Miller refused, and decided to walk away instead (viewers last saw Erlich high as a kite in a Tibetan opium den).
In response to THR‘s story, Miller says he was never under the influence on the set: “In real life, I’m not always high like Erlich is,” he says. “And this will blow your readers’ minds, but I’m not high when I work because it gets in the way of the comedy. I also am not a guy who’s blackout-drunk, bumping into things on set… What was occurring was I was out doing standup all the time, even if it meant I only got three hours of sleep. So, the thing I have a problem with? It’s pushing myself to do too much.”
As for how the show will weather the character’s loss, exec producer Alec Berg doesn’t think the show will be any less funny.
“These guys are the Golden State Warriors of comedy,” Berg says of cast members Thomas Middleditch, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani and Zach Woods. “So, it’s like, yeah, we’ve lost Andre Iguodala but we still have Steph Curry and Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and some other guy on the Warriors whose name I don’t know. But I don’t feel like we can’t win championships anymore… T.J. wasn’t LeBron.”
After reading Berg’s comment, THR reports Miller responded with “uproarious” laughter. “Oh, that’s great,” he says. “And it makes me like him more [because] he’s so good at being an a**hole.”