How did you land the role of Jared? What was the audition process?
They sent me the script, and immediately the tone of it was so different than other pilots. Sometimes you read pilots and, understandably, they’re doing such a frantic tap dance for approval. I get why -- it's such an incredibly competitive market. But Silicon Valley was so confidently written. [Creator] Mike Judge…I remember watching Office Space [which Judge also wrote] and thinking, Oh, comedy can be like this! I didn’t realize. He changed the way I thought about what comedy was. I actually auditioned for Thomas Middleditch’s part [the role of Richard], and I auditioned for TJ Miller’s part [the role of Erlich], and then I auditioned for my part of Jared. I did each one of those parts one time, and then they cast me. I didn’t test or anything, which is nice.
If you were telling a friend about Jared, how would you describe him?
Jared is a guy in his twenties who has the interior life of a mother in her sixties. [Laughs.] He’s very maternal toward the Pied Piper guys, and he’s someone who is happy to give every last fiber of effort and love. He requires so little, almost upsettingly little, in return. He’ll spend forever preparing a feast for everyone and then just eat the dirty crumbs that are leftover and just be so happy with that.
When is Jared going to have a fit of selfishness?
It’s not happening this season. I’ve played a lot of characters who are creeps or weirdos, with a deep darkness underneath the surface. With Jared, at least in this season, it really checks out that he’s self-sacrificing for the company. He loves the guys. He’s like, “Well, don’t mind me, I just want everyone else to have a good time.”
To get yourself into the role, did you give any thought to Jared’s backstory? What is it?
I have thought about it. In my mind, Jared had an enormously traumatic childhood. That hasn’t made it into the show, so who knows if that’ll actually turn out to be the case. He’s un-self pityingly overcome ludicrous suffering as a kid. But who knows if that will actually be a part of the show. For me, it’s helpful to have a whole background in my head.