What was your reaction when you first read the script for the Silicon Valley pilot?
I just remember thinking, I really want to be involved. At that point, I’d been working with [Silicon Valley executive producers] John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky and had become friends with them, and knowing that [Silicon Valley creator] Mike Judge was working on this and it would be for HBO and it’s tech stuff in my wheelhouse, I was pretty excited about it.
Why is tech stuff in your wheelhouse?
I’ve just always been into it. I’ve always been a gamer. I play a version of Dungeons & Dragons. Nerdiness is all part of it. I don’t know how to necessarily code as well as my character -- or in any respect like my character -- but I would call it in the same wheelhouse.
You sound like a longtime fan of Silicon Valley creator Mike Judge. Do you have a favorite project of his?
I remember trying to stay up late and catch as much Beavis and Butthead as I could, and then King of the Hill. Office Space really spoke to me, and Idiocracy -- I’ve always really loved his live-action stuff. I’ve sold an animated show with him and John and Dave, so animation is in there, too.
As for your character, what do you have in common with him?
I’m the pinnacle of manliness and confidence, so there is no crossover whatsoever. [Laughs.] Let it be put in print. Richard is a little socially awkward, and he’s very focused. He’s the type of guy where you’d look at him and see a hamster spinning in his wheel constantly, trying to crack codes, like Neo in The Matrix. Me, I’m just casual, you know, oh yeah.
I saw on a bio for you on the Upright Citizens Brigade website, you were listed as Thomas “Greasy Palms” Middleditch. What’s with “Greasy Palms”?
Oh, that’s me trying to come up with something fun to say in my bio. You have opportunities in all these bios to say weird stuff. I had this website that, at one point, I listed myself as “actor, writer, comedian, and fart enthusiast” just because I thought that would be a really clear joke. Then I got an email from some guy months later: “So it says on your website you’re a fart enthusiast. I just wanted to know if that was real or not? If it is, let’s meet up and do stuff.” I was like, “Oh sweetheart, no. No, no, no.” [Laughs.]
Do you have a favorite moment from the Silicon Valley pilot?
I really like that exchange I get with Erlich, played by T.J. Miller -- the line about Steve Jobs versus Steve Wozniack. When T.J. says: “You just disappeared up your own a**hole.” We had a lot of fun with that, and I think that line in particular is going to be something that will hopefully get a little bit of cred because most coders are underrepresented in that field.