The fifth season of Silicon Valley premieres March 25, an occasion The Hollywood Reporter has marked with a lengthy check-in with the show’s cast and creators. The publication spoke with Mike Judge and Alec Berg about what lies ahead for the Pied Piper gang—a mixture of success and doom, naturally—as well as the controversy surrounding T.J. Miller’s season-four exit.
Miller’s offscreen departure was announced well in advance of his onscreen farewell, which saw his character, Erlich Bachman, taking up residence in an opium den after realizing he no longer had a place in his own incubator/home. In early June, the actor told Larry King the decision was mutual, and that “it was time” for him to leave the acclaimed comedy. Miller expanded on the decision in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, in which he said he was very “excited” and “happy” about his character’s coda, while also admitting it was “heartbreaking.”
Cut to late June 2017, when Miller trashed Berg and talked up co-star Zach Woods to THR, suggesting that the “it was time” line wasn’t the full story. Nine months later, Judge has opened up about the behind-the-scenes struggles with Miller. “There are a lot of different ways you can find out somebody doesn’t want to do the show anymore,” he tells THR. “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 crewmembers 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, OK, we’re not shooting today.’”
But the problems went beyond Miller’s disinterest—THR’s sources paint a picture of an unpredictable, unprofessional, and “untamable actor,” who held up production and reportedly showed up on set “under the influence.” From the article:
Schedules would regularly have to be rejiggered, 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 hi—many say it had become impossible to predict which Miller would show up on a given day. ‘There was almost a danger to having him around,’ says one insider. ‘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 fucking awesome” … but it was a trade-off.’ In the end, all parties involved decided it was best if he moved on.
Ultimately, “it just wasn’t working,” Judge says. He and Berg are optimistic about where the show is heading in its fifth season, with Berg using a basketball metaphor to describe the current status of the show’s underdogs. “These guys are the Golden State Warriors of comedy,” Berg says of core cast members Thomas Middleditch, Kumail Nanjiani (who’s been nominated for an Oscar since the end of season four), Martin Starr, and the aforementioned Woods. Though the co-creator acknowledges that the ensemble took a hit after losing Miller, he’s confident they’ll be just fine.
After THR relayed Berg’s comments to Miller, the Emoji Movie actor agreed with the assessment, but denied being drunk or high while working on Silicon Valley. “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,” Miller says. “What was occurring was I was out doing stand-up 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.”
Neither Judge nor Berg commented on the sexual assault allegations against Miller, which broke last December, though the article does note the potential impact on the actor’s future prospects.