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T.J. Miller Explains His Reasoning for Leaving Silicon Valley

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Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

A version of this article originally appeared on EW.com.

He once told a drug-dealing kid that he brought piss to a sh– fight. He flew into a petty rage because someone was stealing his narrow spoons, which were the only ones that could effectively navigate his Fage yogurt cups. He made a high-level Silicon Valley exec painfully aware of his advanced age in a torrent of colorful ways. And he more frequently has said the words “pilapa” and “Jian Yang!!!”

He is Erlich Bachman, and a few weeks from now, the notorious incubator, semi-gifted bloviator, Aviato pioneer, Pied Piper investor, wanna-be guru, and clothes-free emperor will bid farewell to Silicon ValleyAs announced last month, T.J. Miller is exiting HBO’s beloved, Emmy-nominated tech comedy, with the season finale on June 25 serving as his final episode. “The producers of Silicon Valley and T.J. Miller have mutually agreed that T.J. will not return for season 5,” read the network’s statement on May 25. “In Erlich Bachman, T.J. has brought to life an unforgettable character, and while his presence on the show will be missed, we appreciate his contribution and look forward to future collaborations.”

It is a weighty loss for the just-renewed show — on a scale of 1 to 100, let’s call it a fleventy-five — and one that has already fans pouring out bong water in his Bachmemory. Miller’s Erlich proved to be an early breakout character on Silicon Valley, lording over the proceedings — or at least, attempting to — with a buffoonish, douchey regality while spewing cutting one-liners like, “One of you is one of the least attractive people I’ve ever met and I’m not going to say which one,” and, “He’s in the garage, like a sad bag of potting soil.” He excels at self-promotion, delusion, marijuana consumption, and grammar (“It’s hards-on”) and suffers a severe allergy to self-awareness. In his quest to matter, he has seen his fortunes raised and razed, and they may be (temporarily?) on the upswing again: In last week’s episode, Erlich accidentally charmed his way into the good graces of V.R. guru Keenan Feldspar (Haley Joel Osment), which seemed to help him maneuver his way into the new firm started by Laurie (Suzanne Cryer) and Monica (Amanda Crew). Whatever transpires or transmogrifies, the boys from Pied Piper who have been reluctantly receiving his shelter and counsel — that’s Richard (Thomas Middleditch), Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and Jared (Zach Woods) — are about to be left to their own devices, handheld and otherwise.

Miller’s move, while surprising, may not come as a complete shock. The industry profile of the always-animated, always-activated, never-predictable comedian has been on the rise — recent films include Deadpool and Office Christmas Party — as has his workload. He executive produces and stars in Comedy Cental’s The Gorburger Show as a giant blue alien, and he’s performing stand-up across the country; his first HBO comedy special T.J. Miller: Meticulously Ridiculous airs June 17. Miller, 35, is dabbling in various genres in the film world: He recently shot roles for the big-screen thriller Underwater and Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the sci-fi novel Ready Player One. In addition, he’s co-writing an action comedy for Dreamworks titled Ex-Criminals (in which he’d also star) and he voices the lead character in this summer’s The Emoji Movie as well as in 2019’s How to Train Your Dragon 3. Miller will also reunite with Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool 2. And if he runs himself ragged and catches a cold, he’s also the cure. (See: his Mucinex commercials.)

Miller, who will perform Friday at Comedy Central’s Clusterfest festival in San Francisco, emerged from the pile of projects to explain the reasoning behind his fast-approaching goodbye, why he thinks his departure is actually good for the show, and — this one might sting a bit — why you’ll never see Erlich again.

FROM PEN: Stunning Visuals and Compelling Storylines Make FX’s ‘Legion’ a Must Watch

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: If this is just a bit, this would definitely be a good time to tell us.
T.J. MILLER
: If this is a bit, I would never tell you.

How “mutual” was the decision?
As mutual as public announcements go. I’m so grateful to HBO because they offered several ways that we could make this work. They were open to all sorts of compromise to allow Erlich to continue to be on the show, but ultimately this just felt like an organic ending. And the relationship with HBO — I mean, they did my special. It’s a dream come true, or at least a living, waking nightmare that was actualized. And on top of that, they gave my best friend, Pete Holmes, Crashing — a show that’s autobiographical, and I get to play myself. I’m not a very good actor; that’s a really easy job. I love HBO, but I thought this would be that thing that would change the show in a positive way. I mean, those guys are the funniest guys working.

Why are you leaving now?
I would love to do The Emoji Movie and things like that and have the time to develop animated features. I would like to keep offering up Gorburger and letting people see a very different side of talk show guests. And that was a big part of why I said, “I’ve learned everything I can from this show. I would love to continue to be involved with it, if only because fans really do enjoy the show, and they seem to enjoy the character. But ultimately I just have to make more things and different things.”

I work so much. I do every single platform. I do every single medium, down to podcasting with Cash Levy (“Cashing in with T. J. Miller”), all the way up to being in an underwater thriller with Kristen Stewart and wanting to be the funny part of that. So [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. I want to be a stand-up comic. 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 off-stage 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.

Did you feel that you had creatively plateaued playing this character — that you had said everything you wanted to say as Erlich?
There is no plateau when working with [Silicon co-creator] Mike Judge. Mike Judge is a prescient genius… I took a cue from my wife. Her favorite quote from David Bowie is — and I’m not an artist, so put “artist” in quotations marks — an artist should always be just far enough in the water that his feet are barely touching the ocean floor, and that’s where you do your best work. You don’t know what’s going to happen. I chose the most unsafe, destabilizing decision that one could make.

When did the thought of leaving first enter your mind?
I think in the middle of the season, I started to think, “If there is a way…” And when I did Underwater, this Kristen Stewart-Vincent Cassel movie, it was a nice reminder because I was a stranger in a strange land — a comedian in an actor’s world and director’s world. Why did I do this underwater thriller? Because it was a Deadpool move — an unexpected move because I get to do something different, to learn from these people — I reminded myself that I didn’t get into this game to become a successful television actor. I didn’t want to be on a sitcom where I made a boatload of money and then could do films but didn’t do a ton, but have a bunch of money and bought a cool house in L.A. and totally rehabbed it so it’s no longer ranch-style. Both of us are already bored with that example. I need to be a stand-up comedian. We’ve got some pretty heavy sh– going on right now, and the best thing I can do is stand-up comedy. I hope Meticulously Ridiculous is both well-received and something that people feel like they can return to for laughs, like Norm Macdonald’s special was for me, and Patton Oswalt’s special was for me.  I’m a good stand-up comedian. But I’d like to be a great stand-up comedian, and that takes an immense amount of focus and work ethic. I have both, but I didn’t have the time.

Is any part of you nervous about this decision?
I was anxious for Kate [Miller, his wife]. Kate said, “Are you sure you want to do this? Because people love this character. And you love this cast. And you love working with Mike Judge. Be very certain that this is what you want to do. Because HBO is being very accommodating.” But for myself, no, not nervous. I am so fortunate to have Deadpool 2, How to Train Your Dragon 3, and hopefully Big Hero 7, Ex-Criminals, the movie that I had set up at Dreamworks which put me in Office Christmas Party, and Ready Player One. I want to shepherd and help develop Gorburger. It’s a perfect property, it’s such a f—ing weird show, and I can say a lot more with that than I can with being the funny guy on somebody else’s incredible, great satire, but somebody else’s project. I’m excited. I have some really interesting, exciting opportunities. And more importantly, I love the idea of [using] that time to figure out how I can diversify and offer the public more comedy while also at the same time hanging out with wife, who is my favorite person alive.

My only concern was that the fans would be upset or frustrated that this character wouldn’t be present. And then the other real concern was that people would think — and some people have said this online — “Oh, okay. Well, now he’s in Deadpool, so he thinks he’s too big for this television show.” I’m not too big for anything. I’m the f—ing Mucinex man. [Laughs.] I will do it all to bring laughter to people.

Kate said, “There will be some people who feel like that there’s an arrogance to this, that there’s an element of hubris to this. I want you to think about that.” She also said, “Think about how much your family loves the show. So know that this is going to be a real bummer for everybody that loves you on the show.” And then, of course, I tell my father before I make the definitive decision. In my family, we always have to ask for a counsel of the elders. He goes, “You know what? Erlich was starting to wear thin on me.” In classic father-son fashion, he was like, “Yeah, I was starting to get annoyed by you anyway.” [Laughs]. And that was an interesting barometer for me to say, “The last thing that I want is for people to be like, ‘God, his character is so great, but he’s so one-note.’ [The writers] had given me a lot. They really allowed Erlich to become dynamic. He became a sadder, darker, more ostracized or alienated character, and that gave me a lot to do. But the moment that this character becomes grating to people, that’s going to be such a loss… In the weirdest way, it was protecting this thing that we had made — the dynamic of Richard and Erlich, and Erlich and Jian Yang — so that people would always miss it and think fondly of it, not feel like, “Well, he really jumped the shark in season 6.”

So you thought that this could be the end for Erlich while shooting the final episode. When did those conversations with the network and producers happen?
Months after. When they renew the show, they come to everybody to talk about their involvement in the show… HBO gave me a couple of options, and I said, “Well, look, we’ve got this organic ending, let’s take advantage.” They were just really good to me, saying, “Let us know if you have ideas.” Mike Judge and [co-executive producer] Clay Tarver said, “We have these ideas,” and I said, “I just think the best thing for this show is for this character to fade into the ether. Wouldn’t that be interesting? Wouldn’t that be unexpected?”

Was it hard telling the news to the cast, some of whom you’ve known for a very long time, and Mike Judge, who brought you into the fold starting with Extract?
I was scared. Thomas and I have worked for 15 years. I think he really is one of the funniest people alive — maybe the funniest improviser alive. Zach Woods is such a tender, tender man. Kumail and I started off in the stand-up scene in Chicago together. And Martin Starr is a strange, chanting Buddhist who is very good friends with my wife and one of the kindest people alive. You’re walking away from not only a popular show but these are people that you watch and you either learn from them or you marvel at them. Either way, it’s a pretty fortunate work environment.

I was really scared. I texted them days before the news came out because I was really… I don’t know. [Laughs.] It’s like you’re afraid of actually going through with the breakup. I love those guys. They’re the funniest people around, and I didn’t know: Would they be upset that I didn’t seek their counsel? Or check with them first?… I was cowardly enough to text all of them this explanation, just like I emailed all my family, and everybody was so sweet. Thomas was so nice. He welcomed me to the idea of working together again and again. Kumail called me and wanted to reach out. These guys I’ve worked with since I started doing comedy so this will not be the end of our collaboration. Zach had to figure out a way to wrap his mind around that loss, and Martin Starr doesn’t think that anything has changed — the show is different but he is our great friend.

Clay Tarver and Mike Judge are like a masterclass in comedy. Mike is so prescient and brilliant, and Clay is so good at writing and understanding the story structure, and they really taught me that the best comedy is not just about laughs, it’s about character, and it’s about being grounded while at the same time being absolutely ridiculous. By the end of [our conversation], Clay was saying, “You know, I don’t love this decision, but I respect it.” I had a very long conversation with Mike Judge at Cannes Film Festival, and he started out being like, “Listen, here are the ways that we can be accommodating. We love working with you.” He was so f—ing sweet. And then he and I talked our way to a place where he kind of was going, “Yeah, I mean, I guess you’re right. There’s no way this doesn’t change the show. There’s no way that this isn’t going to push us to find new dynamics.” By the end of the conversation, I think he really understood and agreed with the decision… He and I have talked about doing animation. At the end of that [exit] conversation, it was very much about, “Hey, what would be next?” I would love to do a film with him that he directs or writes. That was a big thing that I loved and that came out of the conversation of leaving the show — it now makes it possible for us to do something else together.

HBO was both accommodating and supportive, or as I say, succommodating — “let’s find a way to make this work” — because they really, really loved the show, and they loved the character. [But] my best contribution to the show is to no longer be involved. And I think that was confusing. It was a very different action than they suspected me of taking, and I think that ultimately it will make the show better. And I’m a guy who thinks the whole is more important than the parts, the sum of things rather than any individual element. I would like people to love Silicon Valley, not my character on Silicon Valley.

Your departure is a big loss. It’s hard to picture Silicon Valley without Erlich. But it sounds like you think it’s actually good for the show.
Some people (and the Washington Post) are saying, “What exactly is this show if Erlich isn’t on it?” I think maybe a more focused show that is using some of the barely tapped talents. You’ve got Josh Brener [who plays Big Head], a brilliant comedian. You’ve got Chris Diamantopolous [who plays Russ Hanneman], a brilliant talent. Most of all, you have Amanda Crew, this brilliant, flexible [actress], she’s bizarre in her humor, and we haven’t gotten to see a bunch of that. I love the idea of seeing more of that.

Jimmy [O. Yang, who plays Jian Yan] was the first guy I called. I said, “I’m the Hardy to your Laurel. I’m the heavyset frustrated one to your hilarious deadpan delivery.” He and I had a long conversation…. Jimmy is a comedian who I’m going to really miss working with, but now he can do everything he wants to with Jian Yang. Now the writers have room to really build that character, which ultimately I enjoy watching more than Erlich [laughs]. Maybe that was part of it — I had gotten to a point where I just thought it was so fun to watch all the funny people on the show.

You say you want to focus on stand-up and other projects. But why didn’t you just come back for a few episodes next season, in some sort of reduced role?
I, unlike Nietzsche, am a bigger fan of death than the eternal recurrence. It isn’t about me. It’s about the character. So the writers, either unknowingly or very knowingly, wrote Erlich into an organic place to exit, and I don’t think they anticipated [that I would] say, “Yes! Let’s let him exit!” Television is not like wine or women — it does not get better with age. And thus my lack of pursuit of my Master of None, or my Smashing with Pete Holmes and Judd Apatow, but instead what’s missing from the film space, and how can I become a better comedian. Let’s remember that this isn’t about me, sometimes it’s about the show, sometimes it’s about taking risks that are both calculated and are completely unpredictable as to what the repercussions will be.

Your schedule is packed and you’re being pulled in so many directions with all these projects, how did that impact your job on Silicon?
The answer to this makes me laugh. At one point, in season 4, I’ve just flown in from doing this stand-up gig in San Antonio or wherever the f— I was — and I had gotten back and I went straight to work and I had shows that night — and I had work to do that night, and I looked around and I was like, “I don’t know what this show is about.” That’s when I was like, “You’re too busy, man. And you’re not giving this show the focus that it deserves.”

What kind of response have you seen? What your favorite fan reaction?
I’ve been on Twitter a little too much. I don’t have a favorite reaction to this because so many reactions were sweet, but the one that comes to mind is somebody said, “I miss before Deadpool when @nottjmiller was hurling insults in a pompous Bay Area city.” And that’s just really nice because I think that guy hit it on the head. Because I miss that too. I miss when there wasn’t so much other work to do that I could do that.

Suddenly the internet broke, then everybody was like, “Why is this happening?” Then the next day, everyone was like, “He’ll never do anything better. What is he doing?” Really kind of getting mean, like you would in a breakup, which is what it felt like, you know? And the next day or the day after, and at one point, another Silicon Valley episode aired, and people lamented, and the Washington Post was really nice, and reminded people, “Let’s look at the show objectively without T.J.” And I just disagree with anyone that thinks that it’s going to be any less — it’s the best show on television. I really think that. I think the best thing I could have done for it is to walk [away], you know?

Why do you think people responded to this character? Was part of it that he was the worst, most absurd incarnation of our need to be needed and to be important?
It’s the first time I was able to express a nihilist character, this character that believes the values as they stand are completely ridiculous. It was this moment where I got to do this comedy that I do in my standup — that’s why I really hope people like the stand-up — because what I’m doing there is really addressing and that’s what Erlich does. “To make it in this world you have to be an asshole. And you got to neg people.” He doesn’t subscribe to any ethical value system that anyone would agree with. That was the satire within the satire was that as they’re writing about these guys that almost succeed and then almost succeed and then fail, and Erlich is there the entire time going, “You guys are looking at this all wrong. Be open to the idea that your values and all that stuff, the grind, is not even real.” Weasel [from Deadpool] is the same way. Weasel will bet on his own best friend’s death.

I thought about a lot. Why this jerk? I think it’s the philosophy behind the character, not that it’s a funny character that enters the room in a crazy way, flying across the floor. He doesn’t have any catchphrase. His whole outlook is like, “F— all of your morality. We get one shot at this whole thing, and you gotta get there no matter how.” For him, there is this tireless or futile pursuit of immortality, of iconography. He has decided that the most important thing is how you’re remembered, how you revered, and I think we all kind of deep down know that it doesn’t really matter.

What would you want to say to fans of the show — and of Erlich — who are in mourning?
My first instinct is just to say “Thank you.” I’m so glad that you guys enjoyed watching this character develop. I’m so glad that people embraced him, even the people that said, “I’m the Erlich of my company,” which is not a positive thing, as I’ve said many times before. It always surprises me when people like what I’m doing, so for people to love what I’m doing, it’s really a beautiful surprise. Thank you, and instead of mourning the loss of the character, look toward the other characters that I already have out there that are meant to continue to entertain and make you laugh and think about things hopefully from a little bit left of center, and with a smile.

And I’ll answer as how Erlich would answer it: “There’s no ‘thank you,’ just a, ‘You’re welcome. And pull your heads out of your asses that you can see right in front of you that there’s so much more to come.’”

This is the show that broke you out to a wider audience and helped your career take off. Now many fans are upset that you won’t be on it anymore. What amount of loyalty, if any, does an actor in your situation owe a show?
I’m a comedian. And I love acting as a medium of comedy, but I don’t think I owe anyone anything except for to continue to try to widen my audience that thinks that I’m funny. I did not get into this to be rich or to be famous or to be stable… The only thing that I think I owe is making the audience laugh, and it’s a bummer that I can’t do it in this capacity, but I hope that people know that I think it’s going to make this show better, and I’m going to be watching as a fan.

What can you hint about your final episodes? And how would you tease your farewell? Will the end provide closure for Erlich?
There is a lot of closure — in the most nonsensical, ridiculous way… Look at the way that Erlich is and has been flailing to have a reason to be involved with Pied Piper. Look at how much the rest of the people on the show hate him, can’t stand him. Martin Starr’s character is always rolling his eyes — he can’t believe that this manatee is even present. But I think we saw in this last episode, he’s again kind of flailing, needing some reason to be involved, some purpose.

When we sat down to read [the finale]… I come in and the first time I see the script is at the table read because I’m best at a cold read, because I’m an improviser by trade. We ended the show and as everyone was clapping, as we always do at the end of any table read, I just sat back and I went, “That’s it! That’s the way he disappears into the ether. That is… the end of Erlich Bachman.” And I think that anyone else in my position would be like, “Well, so then what’s happens? Where does this storyline go?” If you’re on The Sopranos, you never buy a house. You always rent because you don’t know if at the end of that table read, you’re going to be dead. Same with Game of Thrones. [Laughs.] Those poor guys. Jesus. Every table read must be even scarier than the last.

I just sat back and in the applause had this… moment. I don’t even think it was an epiphany, I just had this moment where I go, “You know, that could just be the end.” We could finally have something really definitive in the show. We can finally have someone make a left turn or have something happen to them where it really is the end. So the first time I read it and had that idea and that possibility arise was there at that table read. And then we shot it, I think some of the crew kind of had this weird feeling that it was my last day. I could feel that people sort of got the drift that, “I don’t think I’ll be back, guys.” I was almost too familial and chummy with the crew because I sort of deep down was like, “This is it, guys.” It was this weird goodbye.

Leaving a show in some ways is as heartbreaking as having a show canceled or having the last season of a show. I’m very excited. I’m happy. I have a renewed vigor. I’ve got projects that I can allot more time or give more time to. But it is a little heartbreaking because I know that’s it. The conversation with HBO was very much like a break-up. … But, as HBO said, it’s an amicable break-up. One where they said, “Well, we’re in business with you,” and I’m going, “Jesus, thank you for even thinking I’m mildly amusing enough to have an HBO special.” That’s a comic wet dream. Because it’s not pay cable, I can say it was a dream with a full-on ejaculation — to give me an HBO special. I love HBO, but it’s time to just let Erlich kind of… fade away from the American consciousness. And Australia’s. We do quite well in Australia.

Is there any chance that you’ll come back for a guest spot in the final season? Are you open to some return of Erlich down the road?
No… [Deep breath.] I think a lot of people in my situation would be like, “Never say never!” but that’s who I am. Just because: What if felt like a whimper instead of any sort of bang? What if it had no pop to it? What if it was in any way a disappointment? Why? Why would one do that? Especially because the final episode is so — I wouldn’t have left the show if this finale hadn’t absolutely, perfectly, organically allowed an exit for Erlich in a way that I found very funny. It’s a funny joke for him to then never be back on the show. It was perfect.

How do you think you’ll feel when you start seeing billboards and promos for next season — and when you sit down to watch the season premiere?
Like a f—ing idiot! Like I f—ed up! “Goddammit! How could you have done that, T.J., you stupid a–hole? I bought a yacht made of yellow gold, not even white gold! I am f—ed!” The sincere answer is: I feel excited. What’s going to happen with the show? I can’t wait to watch and not have that f—ing weird toddler-bodied oaf come on the screen every six minutes.

I say, “Erlich Bachman” and the first thing you say is?
Goodbye. [Starts singing The Beatles “Hello, Goodbye.”] I quote the Beatles incorrectly and I say, “You say hello, I say goodbye.”

Seriously, what’s the first thing that pops in your mind?
Oh, just the facial hair. I’ll miss that too — the exciting and ridiculous heights that we took his facial hair to. Each season I would change it and make it more ridiculous, and Kate and I would talk about it because she was the one who has to have intercourse with me. I’ll miss coming up with what is the next level of ridiculous facial hair that we can bring this to stumpy oaf of an arrogant a–hole.

What else will you miss about playing Erlich?
I hate that I can’t gain weight for the show anymore. For a long time, I was able to justify eating pizza right before bed and drinking beer instead of water.

What was the most ridiculous thing you ever did on the set?
Have the conversation that I had with the kid [Griffin Gluck] who I slapped in the face and called a c— before that scene. Imagine meeting a little kid who’s an actor, and being like, “Hey, how are you doing? All right. I’m going to slap you, not really, and then I want you to know that I… I might call you a c—.” I turned to an older woman next to him and say, “Hi, I’m T.J.,” and she said, “I’m Griffin’s mother, and I’ve come to set today.” And I said, “Whoa, boy.” I think I even said, “Wow, we are really using this R-rating. And they both proved totally game. They were like, “Yeah, that sounds great!” And I was like, “This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never had to tell a kid, ‘I’m going to slap you and call you a c—, all in the name of the comedy. And later it will be people’s favorite scene.’”

Pretend that you have to make a highlight reel with your three favorite Erlich moments. Which ones make the cut? Is VC-negging in there? Geriatric insults for Jack Barker? Or telling the kid, “You just brought piss to a sh– fight” and slapping him?
Geriatric insults! That was one of the times where they just unleashed the spigot. They just allowed me to pour out an improvised slew of insults. That was just really really fun.

Slapping the kid. People really think that’s funny. And I thought that was the best. Slapping a kid and calling him a c—, from that character, is the best use of HBO’s R-rating….

I had this weird bittersweet moment where I left the set one day, and in the car on the way home, I felt really bad for Erlich. He wants to be involved. [It’s] the moment where Erlich comes in and goes, “OR DO WE?” He’s lurking in the shadows being like, “I’m a part of this!” It’s so sad, yeah. That’s Kate favorite line in the whole show. Kate always says, “That’s the heartbreaker. That’s the moment where you know that he doesn’t belong.” He’s one of the millions in Silicon Valley that doesn’t belong. I like the sadness that was happening with this character. That’s why I think everybody will see this ending and be like, “Yeah, man, actually, in the end, he was a very tragic character.”

The death rattle of one’s relevancy is a pretty sad moment. But for me, the saddest moment was at the end of the Alcatraz tiki party. [Executive producer] Alec Berg selected the best take of that moment, when Erlich realizes he’s broke. He’s made a fool of himself, he’s destroyed his career, he’s fallen by his own hubristic sword, and in this one moment, he closes his mouth for once. At the end of the episode is him shutting his mouth. And I guess that’s what I did to the whole character now.

Silicon Valley airs Sundays on HBO.

This article originally appeared on Ew.com