Silicon Valley will soon kick off its fifth and likely penultimate season, though the specter of comedian T.J. Miller’s exit still looms large. A new inside look at the series alleges that Miller was frequently intoxicated and absent from set, though plans were made to include him in Season 5.

It was back in May of 2017 that Miller finalized his departure from the HBO comedy, and shortly thereafter delivered a series of rambling interviews in which he suggested the series was better off. Resurfaced allegations of sexual assault and substance abuse have since swirled around Miller, and a new Hollywood Reporter cover story suggests the comedian’s “demons” were present for Silicon Valley as well. There were reportedly times Miller “looked to have things under control, and others when he’d show up seemingly under the influence, if he showed up at all.”

The comedian apparently held up table reads with his absence and disinterest, and sometimes needed to be woken up around set. Even those irritated with his behavior acknowledge that his comedic talents could occasionally rescue scenes, but creator Mike Judge notes the trade-off wasn’t worth it:

There are a lot of different ways you can find out somebody doesn’t want to do the show anymore. And it’s not fun to work with someone who doesn’t want to be there, [especially when] they’re one of the main people and you’ve got however many crewmembers and extras and people who are [not paid as well] and they’re all showing up before 7 a.m., and then are just like, ‘Oh, OK, we’re not shooting today.’

For his part, Miller refuted the assessment:

In real life, I’m not always high like Erlich is. And this will blow your readers’ minds, but I’m not high when I work because it gets in the way of the comedy. I also am not a guy who’s blackout-drunk, bumping into things on set. … What was occurring was I was out doing stand-up all the time, even if it meant I only got three hours of sleep. So, the thing I have a problem with? It’s pushing myself to do too much.

It also seems that Judge and writers developed a three-episode plan for Miller’s final episodes in Season 5, which “probably would have involved Erlich and his foil Jian Yang on a road trip through China.” Miller declined the return arc to concentrate on his film career, which has since come under scrutiny.

The whole piece really is worth a read, especially as it relates to the real Silicon Valley’s dark underpinnings coming to light during the show’s tenure. The series’ gender imbalance was almost much worse as well, given that initial visions from John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky had the story follow “two gold-digging women from Los Angeles who head to Silicon Valley in the hope of snagging the next Steve Jobs.”

Silicon Valley Season 5 will premiere Sunday, March 25, the trailer for which you can find below.

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