Thomas Middleditch Interview: ‘Silicon Valley’
“Every comedian is a jaded cynic, so I poo-poo the things I very much try to learn” confesses Thomas Middleditch. But the actor admits that being on “Silicon Valley” gave him opportunities to “relax and mature; I could start to react and be ‘in the scene.’ These are things I’ve had to learn.”
“Silicon Valley” was about a group of programmers trying to break into the competitive tech industry with their ‘Pied Piper’ app. The HBO comedy’s sixth season marked its conclusion. The series wraps with ‘Pied Piper’ literally drawing out a swamp of rats at a tech unveiling. Middleditch explains, “It was the most quintessential ‘Silicon Valley’ Pied Piper-y ending you could have. It’s such good writing. The show was good at was constantly putting in obstacles and then squeezing out a victory; but with every victory coming at a price. A moment that stuck with us was in season one where we figure out the dick to floor ratio, sorry, penis to floor. It is when everyone discovered this was the heart of the show: masterstrokes from the jaws of defeat.”
He reflects that the show was constantly, “putting a thumb on these people you desperately want to succeed. Anytime they escape the thumb, another thumb comes down. The show asked: how can you foil these lofty ambitions to do good in a business that is constantly pushing you to compromise your morals and convictions?”
Every previous season of “Silicon Valley” has been nominated for Best Comedy Series at the Emmys. It has also reaped Golden Globe nominations and an impressive 37 Emmy nominations (winning for production design and editing). Middleditch earned a Best Comedy Actor Emmy nomination for season three. He played Richard Hendricks, a coder and the CEO of ‘Pied Piper.’ On farewelling the lauded show, he says, “Richard delivers a speech about how it’s been such a tough road and he’s so proud of everybody. That was the last night of filming. It was neat to say that because I got to say that essentially as the character and as me. It’s crazy to have a job that’s so important to you for what ends up being seven years of your life. It’s weird and emotional to say goodbye to everyone to be honest.”
Middleditch has been busy the past year. With his long-time comedy partner Ben Schwartz he has a long form comedy improv series “Middelditch and Schwartz” on Netflix. It will be eligible for the Emmys in the Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) category. He also voiced Terry in Hulu’s animated series “Solar Opposites.” He will appear on the Emmy ballot for that program in the Character Voice-Over Performance category.
In how “Silicon Valley” differs to some of Middleditch’s other comedic work, the actor reveals, “When you start out in comedy and you do comedy, comedy, comedy; you don’t get that opportunity to delve into the emotionally journey of the scene or the season. Richard was placed in a lot of situations where he had to be the empathetic response on behalf of the audience. When I watch bits from early seasons, I can see myself trying to make a meal out of everything. You get a sense of relaxation when you understand you belong and are more familiar with the character. I enjoyed Richard’s growth of his ultra-neurotic programmer who’s got this neat little toy – to some kind of CEO with all this pressure about destroying the world on his shoulders.”