Many of you may not know who Christopher Evan Welch is. If you’re watching Silicon Valley on HBO (and you really should be; it’s fantastic), he played Peter Gregory, the venture capitalist based loosely on PayPal co-founder and Facebook angel Peter Thiel. Gregory provided the seed money to fund Richard’s start-up, Pied Piper. Like most people, I didn’t realize it until Vulture alerted us to it with this splendid tribute, but Christopher Evan Welch passed away last December after a battle with lung cancer, which spread to his brain, which led to acute myeloid leukemia, which resulted in sudden septic shock, which unexpectedly took his life even after it appeared that he’d beaten the cancer. Last night’s episode was the last one he filmed.
This was his final, hilariously bizarre scene (via Vulture).
The biggest tragedy here, of course, is the death of Christopher Evan Welch, who was brilliant in the role as a billionaire with crippling social anxiety. His storyline involved his fierce competition with a rival billionaire Gavin Belson, and he was using Richard’s start-up Pied Piper as a pawn in that game of one-upmanship. Without Peter Gregory, where does that leave Pied Piper? Who becomes their new boss? What becomes of Amanda Crew’s Monica? Will they still be pressed into the tech competition?
Welch’s role was small, but integral to the existing storyline, and his real-life death is going to throw a few wrinkles into the series. Still, Silicon Valley creator Mike Judge — knowing four months before the show premiered that he’d be without Gregory — chose not to reshoot the scenes with a different actor “The brilliance of Chris’ performance is irreplaceable, and inspired us in our writing of the series,” he told Business Insider. “But we are incredibly grateful to have worked with him in the brief time we had together. Our show and our lives are vastly richer for his having been in them.”
The show will certainly feel his loss in upcoming episodes, both in the storyline and, more importantly, as a presence on the set. He was the oddball motor that kept the show humming.