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Outside of its widespread critical acclaim, HBO's Silicon Valley has dealt with its fair share of criticisms in its first four seasons, from the male-heavy cast to slightly repetitive story beats. But the comedy caused its biggest ruckus when comedian and star T.J. Miller left the show after Season 4 wrapped, with multiple reasons floating around for the impetus. Now, creator Mike Judge and others have opened up a bit about what Miller's behavior was reportedly like on set, and how it likely paved the road to his departure. In Judge's words:
There are a lot of different ways you can find out somebody doesn't want to do the show anymore. 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.
Mike Judge's comments there, along with those of others sources that spoke with THR, paint a picture where T.J. Miller isn't the most dependable or punctual co-star to have around. He was allegedly known to just not show up sometimes, and when he would, it often would often be whenever everyone had already been waiting on him. It's stated that table reads would start up late, and schedules would have to be flipped around to make up for it. What's more, those table readings would sometimes be hindered even more when sources said it was apparent Miller hadn't even looked at the script before that day.
And then there's the intoxicant element. Show sources claim that T.J. Miller's willingness to imbibe on alcohol and other substances was no secret to everyone, and it's alleged that T.J. Miller would occasionally appear to be under the influence whenever he would arrive on set. And he would apparently fall asleep between takes on occasion, which caused some scheduling snafus. Overall, it was reportedtly a huge problem for all involved, since no one knew which version of Miller would show up for work. There definitely were days when everything was peachy keen, and Miller's comedic talents would be on full display without issue. But there were no guarantees, and it apparently caused some strife with a co-star or two.
T.J. Miller, who'd initially explained his public quitting away by saying the public needed a "villain," combatted some of the above claims and offered up his own explanation about why his behavior was erratic at times during Silicon Valley's run.
In real life, I'm not always high like Erlich is. 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 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.
A constant lack of sleep would certainly explain some of Miller's issues, but even if they could all be washed away, that wouldn't have made it any easier for the writers to keep giving his character captivating stories. In the sea of Silicon Valley's tech-centric goons and industry vets, Miller's Erlich Bachman was a bong-toting pitchman, so there weren't a lot of places left to take the character. So it seemed to make perfect sense to write him into the abyss at the end of Season 4, though Mike Judge claims he did offer Miller three Season 5 episodes to close things out for Erlich. (Miller turned that down.)
Silicon Valley can't come back soon enough, and the Erlich-free Season 5 will premiere on HBO on Sunday, March 25, at 10:30 p.m. ET. Be sure to tune in, and then head to our midseason premiere schedule to see all the new and returning shows that are on the way.