T.J. Miller shocked comedy fans last week when he announced that he’d be leaving Mike Judge’s hit comedy Silicon Valley at the end of its fourth season. At the time, HBO released a statement stating that the decision for Miller to depart was mutual, but didn’t say much else. Now, Miller has started giving interviews about the exit, shedding light on his motivations, and his determination that, when Erlich Bachmann leaves the scene, we’ll never see him again.
Talking to Larry King, Miller gave a somewhat vague version of “It was time,” holding to the “mutual” line, and praising his co-workers, declaring “there is no one funnier working in television.” Miller got a little more candid in a recent Entertainment Weekly interview, though, revealing the moment when the decision to leave first came to him. Describing a table read for the show’s fourth-season finale, Miller says he remembers it coming on as a simple moment. “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… 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.’”
Speaking about his personal reactions to the decision, Miller said, “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.” Describing his relationship with HBO, Miller noted that “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 being said, when Erlich Bachman vanishes, Miller’s certain he’ll be gone for good; when asked if he’d consider returning for the show’s finale, whenever that may be, he rejected the idea:
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.
Silicon Valley is currently airing its fourth season; Miller’s set to make his big exit during the season finale, on June 25.