Update: While T.J. Miller’s rationale was unclear when the news of his departure from HBO’s Silicon Valley broke in late May, the actor recently sat down with Entertainment Weekly to explain the reasons for his exit.
HBO confirmed last week that Silicon Valley was losing one of its star players. Much to the chagrin of fans, network brass confirmed that T.J. Miller, who plays Erlich Bachman, would not be returning for season 5 next year.
In early June, we got some insight into the surprise move, as Miller sat down with Entertainment Weekly for an interview. When asked the question on everybody’s mind — “Why are you leaving now?” — Miller responded:
“[I left] for my own sanity, and for the sake of slowing down, and being more present and able to devote more time to this myriad of projects that I have going on. The other thing of it is that I didn’t get into comedy to be a television actor, and the second that I felt that there was a possibility of going on autopilot — of even phoning it in with this particular project — that’s when I say, ‘Okay, I gotta walk away. I have to do something where this won’t happen. I can’t allow myself to show up and give a B-plus performance on a show that is an A-plus when it comes to television.’ That is a huge, huge part of it.
I think for something to come to an organic end, even if it’s before the public wants it to happen, is so much better. Leave them wanting more. There was one adage that’s never wrong. In comedy, you walk offstage when the laughs are at their peak, and people go, “Wait, what? The show’s over? It’s just over like that?” You leave them wanting more because you don’t ever want them to wish that there had been less ….
Also, in a weird way, it’s interesting to me to leave a show at its height. It’s interesting to me to see how the show will grow and change with the exit of this character.”
While this is certainly a letdown for many fans, and while the actor gave several different reasons for his departure, it seems like this was mostly a case of having one too many irons in the fire. Miller’s career has clearly evolved and grown over the past several years, to the point where he’s become a well-known actor and comedian, with roles in high-profile films like Office Christmas Party, as well as Deadpool and its upcoming sequel, alongside Ryan Reynolds. He’s also set to star in two upcoming film adaptions of famous novels — cult-favorite sci-fi novel Ready Player One, and the modernized reimagining of the Henry David Thoreau classic Walden. It’s not the last we’ll see of Miller on HBO either, as his first stand-up special will be airing on the network on June 17.
Clearly, Miller has plenty to occupy his time with in the coming months. Still — as he himself acknowledged — it’ll be interesting to see just how the show reshuffles and restructures itself without him. The hope, of course, is that a new balance can be struck, but Miller’s Bachman was crucial to the series’ identity. Bachman is one of the show’s standout characters, acting as one of the prime decision-makers (for better or worse) for the fictional company Pied Piper.
The good news is that the rest of the cast — including Thomas Middleditch, Martin Starr, Josh Brener, Kumail Nanjiani, Matt Ross, Amanda Crew, Jimmy O. Yang, and Zach Woods — are all set to return next season. Fans can still get their Miller fix with the remainder of Silicon Valley season 4, which is currently airing on Sundays on HBO.