I mean, obviously, there was more to T.J. Miller’s exit than what we were initially led to believe, which was basically a bizarre exit interview Miller gave last year in which he confessed he didn’t much care for the Silicon Valley showrunner Alec Berg, took a couple of passive swipes at Thomas Middleditch, and said that “the best way for me to be involved in the show is by no longer being on it.”
But according to set insiders in a new THR piece about the forthcoming season of Silicon Valley, there was much more to the story.
The decision to cut ties with Miller, 36, had been a long time coming. While nearly everyone associated with the series is loath to speak publicly about the events that led to the actor’s departure, several make veiled references to his “demons” and the fact that he’s been known to self-medicate with alcohol and other substances. Miller hasn’t been shy about those vices either, wearing them at times like a badge of honor — or at least a solid launchpad for comedy, with bits that have hinged on his propensity to “drink till [he] passed out.” There had been stretches when, multiple show sources say, he looked to have things under control, and others when he’d 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 Judge, seated now in his cluttered office on the Sony lot, a short walk from the set. “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.’”
According to “sources,” he would show up late to set, he’d fall asleep on set, he’d show up completely unprepared, and he’d improvise in ways that were both great and not-so-great. As Judge puts it, “it just wasn’t working.” So, they offered him an opportunity to return in the upcoming fifth season for three episodes before being written out (possibly in a car trip across China with Jian Yan), but Miller declined the offer and asked to be let go at the end of the season. His character was eventually abandoned in a Tibetan opium den, and that is where he will remain forever.
Miller himself continues to insist that his stand-up work, and all of his other projects, are part of the reason why he left the show, although those projects have begun to dry up in the wake of sexual assault allegations. Meanwhile, Miller also complained last year that the series had fallen into a rut, where the characters would find themselves on the brink of success only to lose it, over and over. That will change this season, as we find out what happens when the Silicon Valley characters find themselves flush with cash and success.