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Erlich won’t be Bach: Who is the departing T.J. Miller of HBO’s Silicon Valley?

Jian-Yang has Erlich beat at every turn despite his best efforts

The shock news of the week was announced as HBO comedy Silicon Valley’s resident nihilist incubator Pied Piper Erlich Bachman, played by comic actor T.J. Miller, will be leaving the series after this season.

Miller’s bombastic, egocentric and blessedly unaware character is a one-man classic quote machine that steals scenes. This Emmy-nominated series launched in 2014 and owes a great deal of its success to the brash Erlich, a landlord, muse, and incubator hostel owner housing a group of IT upstarts trying to break into the big leagues.

But just who is T.J. Miller and what was his claim to fame and where is he going?

The highs and lows of Hollywood are Miller’s playground. He voices a Mucinex mucus commercial and he also does high concept shorts with his artist wife Kate Miller.

Miller and his “unicorn” multimedia artist wife Kate, aka ‘rosepetalpistol’ collaborate professionally. Their viral video about being locked inside luxury retailer Barneys features British creative director for Barneys and reality TV personality Simon Doonan.

But the actor and comic is white hot in the wake of Silicon Valley. He is slated for several new films including The Emoji Movie, Walden and Ready Player One, along with booking a stand-up tour that sees him heading to Ireland in June booked at Cat Laughs Comedy Festival in Kilkenny.

On the set of HBO’s Silicon Valley is where Miller cemented his fame and fortune as an insufferable egoist and pothead Erlich Bachman, the founder of start-up Aviato. His hyperbolic puffed up version of a clueless brilliant salesman always looking for the pitch moment and the cash-rich funder has him meeting his match with the bedeviling hostel squatter, Jian-Yang.

In a past interview, Miller said of his character Erlich: “Erlich doesn’t have a girlfriend because all he cares about is fame and iconography.”

But his background is Rocky Mountain high. Born in Colorado in 1981, Todd Joseph Miller was raised by professionals, his mother a psychologist, and father is an attorney. He matriculated at George Washington University and came up in the comedy world.

On a podcast in 2011, he revealed he had a serious brain condition, cerebral arteriovenous malformation, on his right frontal lobe on the Pete Holmes podcast You Made It Weird on October 28, 2011.

Fans of his comedy can see him on HBO June 17 in an hourlong comedy special T.J. Miller: Meticulously Ridiculous, which was filmed in Denver, CO at the end of his Meticulously Ridiculous Tour.

Of his character Erlich, Miller has expressed disdain for the inspiration he drew upon to create this larger-than-life huckster. “I never could have imagined that people would have come up to me and say, ‘I’m you in the show! I’m Erlich. In my company, I’m Erlich.’ I couldn’t imagine that people would be so stupid or so self-unaware as to say such a thing. Erlich is ugh. I don’t even need to use adjectives. That is how unaware they are.”

Film fans know that Miller’s standout turn cast as Weasel in the film Deadpool earned him even more comedic roles, including Office Christmas Party with Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston, and Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ready Player One.

Miller’s lines as Weasel also made Deadpool percolate with raw comedic energy

Miller’s voice is also featured in the animated film How to Train Your Dragon.

Erlich brilliantly dresses down Jack Barker in this scene

Many fans cite his scene with the excellent actor Stephen Tobolowsky in Silicon Valley as one of his best free streaming rants.

To Pied Piper’s CEO prospect, Jack Barker, Erlich says: “We meet at last. Erlich Bachman. Oh, really, [a big fan] of what? Metamucil? Polio? The phonograph? A nice piece of fish? Segregated water fountains? Senior citizen discounts at Perkins family restaurants? Erectile dysfunction? Because of corroded penile arteries? Deviled eggs as an entree? [Pause] Liking Ike?”

A recent lawsuit over an Uber driver’s allegations that he was assaulted is being contested by Miller who told The Wrap he is being extorted for money.

Miller will be seen in the next Silicon Valley episode ‘Customer Service’ which will see his Erlich reaching out to Monica (Amanda Crew) and Laurie (Suzanne Cryer) for a new direction while Richard (Thomas Middleditch) get creative in his search for funding while help from Russ Hanneman is in play. Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) are at all-out war as Jared (Zach Woods) mediates at the Hacker Hostel.

Silicon Valley airs Sunday at 10 PM on HBO

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
April Neale
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