TJ Miller broke the hearts of Silicon Valley fans everywhere when it was announced earlier this year that he would be leaving the series at the end of the fourth season.
This came as a huge shock to many, particularly as the news was announced mere weeks after the series had been renewed for a fifth season. Up until now, Miller hasn't revealed many details about how his departure came about. He discussed it while appearing on Larry King Now at the beginning of the month but despite being pressed by the host, he didn't divulge any details further than his exit being a mutual decision. He also was full of praise for the show's writers and cast, humbly claiming that the show will become even better without him.
***This story contains spoilers for Erlich Bachman's exit from the show***
The fourth season finale aired on HBO last night (Sunday) and the episode saw Miller's Erlich Bachmann going to China to meet up with Gavin Belson. The pair stop at an opium den in Tibet, where Erlich gets so high that he can barely function. So the outed Hooli CEO pays the owner of the drug den a wad of crash to keep Erlich there for five years.
Immediately after it concluded, The Hollywood Reporter published a candid interview with Miller in which he finally went into detail about the circumstances that led to his departure from the show.
According to Miller, the decision to leave came about when the producers broached the possibility of reducing his screen time in season five to just doing five episodes of the planned ten. Miller was already feeling the strain of combining his commitments of the show with his hectic stand up comedy and movie schedule and the suggestion of reduced screen time prompted him to suggest that maybe he should leave the show altogether.
"They came to me and said, “Look, we’re not going to pick up your contingency because we want to offer you doing five episodes out of the ten, or three episodes.” And then when I said, “Oh perfect, I had been wanting to ask if you guys would open to me leaving the show.” And then they suddenly said, “Wait, no, what? You can do whatever. What? What do you mean?” And that was so good of them. They said, “Look, we wanted to reduce ... We just wanted you to have more time to do all of the things you’re doing.” And I said, “Well, the best way for me to be involved in the show is by no longer being on it.”
Miller went on to elaborate his thought process behind wanting to leave the show while it was at the height of its success.
"for me, television, unlike women and wine, does not get better with age. So I thought, “Wouldn’t it be interesting to leave at the height of the success of the show?” Knowing that Kumail [Nanjiani] is brilliant, Zach Woods is the greatest improviser alive, Thomas Middleditch is one of the funniest people of all, Martin Starr is the deadpan comedian of our generation, what if I just stepped aside and let them continue the show and see what it becomes? I think that they made room for me to exit without ever really believing that I would walk away from the show. … I think they thought I was a television actor and not a comedian."
Miller even claimed the character of Erlich Bachmann in some ways never really belonged in the show.
"nobody likes him. He doesn’t have any friends. His only friend is Jian Yang, and Jian Yang f—ing hates him. I mean, he calls him a “fat loser.” You don’t say that to a friend. Erlich is just the person nobody wants. ... There’s no reason for him to be there."
Despite it being his decision to leave the show, Miller admitted that the exit did hit him hard.
"It felt like a breakup with HBO......they were very, very cool about it, and that final conversation was super friendly and sad. It was heartbreaking on my end."
If you're holding out hope that Miller might return to the show in a cameo in the future then we've got some bad news. As far as he's concerned. He's done.
"It’s just that I will never be on Silicon Valley again. That character, as you have seen, disappeared into the ether. And he did it at a time when no one was sick of him, when he had worn thin but not worn out."