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T.J. Miller says you can still party hard after 30

The "Office Christmas Party" actor talks about how his new comedy is perfect to see in these turbulent times.

T.J. Miller has an idea: You should go see “Office Christmas Party.” Obviously he does; he’s in it. But the actor, comic and “Silicon Valley” star has another reason to get butts in seats: It’s a comedy. And right now, with all that’s going on, we need distractions. In the movie, Miller plays the boss of a struggling branch of an Internet server company. Cutbacks seem all but assured. So he and his minions — including Jason Bateman and Olivia Munn — decide to ramp up the annual holiday shindig, partly to lure a powerful new client (Courtney B. Vance), partly to exorcise some pent-up demons.

Miller, 35, talks to us about trying to stay chill as Trump takes office, his forthcoming turn in a Steven Spielberg movie (“Ready Player One”) and, of course, partying. And weed.

I’ve noticed a lot of people saying they’re really in the mood for comedies now. They want to take their mind off what’s going in the world, kind of like audiences did during the Great Depression.
One of the things we can do right now is take the holidays off and settle into what this is. And what this is is a time to laugh. It’s a time to laugh and go together to see a comedy. And this is a laugh-a-minute — well, laugh-a-minute-and-a-half comedy. You don’t want people to be exhausted. That also means you don’t have to talk to your family for an hour and a half. Then you talk about how funny it was for an hour, an hour and a half afterwards. So that’s two and a half to three hours of stress-free time. That’s what we’re offering. It’s not a time to fight with family. It’s time to have way too much eggnog and go see a funny movie.

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That’s probably good for people who have family members who voted for You Know Who. Talking about that can be rough.
You can’t be angry at them. You don’t need to say anything to your family. All you need to do is sit down and watch the havoc Trump’s about to wreak on our country and globally. Then in a year you can tell them, “I I hope you still feel good about the choice you made.” Back off for a year, because Trump’s a pretty good conman. But by then he’ll lose his f—ing mind.

Back to this movie, it must be exhausting doing the same party scene for weeks.
Oh, for weeks, for months. All of the extras and the background artists, they were the unsung heroes. Because they had to party in the background to no music. We were doing our dialogue, and these people were in the background partying hard — to silence. This [male extra] had gotten this [female extra] to agree that he'd put his face between her legs, like he was going down on her while she was sitting on a filing cabinet. I’d say about 12 hours into that, once they realized they were going to be doing that for months — because everything had to be consistent — both of them regretted that decision. Whatever creepy conversation got that initiated, they both were like, ‘This was a bad move.”

As you get older, starting with turning 30, it’s hard to party like you used to.
You’re wrong. You can ask my wife. You can do it. You just gotta pick and choose your battles. But you can f—in’ party. You can get down. The older you get, the better you are at partying. It’s like when people say, “Oh, I get so paranoid when I smoke weed, so I don’t smoke anymore.” I say, “You just haven’t practiced.” You gotta practice.

We all practiced drinking. We all had a case of beer and said, “This is disgusting.” We all threw up so many times. But we kept at it, right? That’s what people got to do with marijuana: Keep practicing and you’ll get better at it. Learn your balance. When you’re 35 you’re not like, ‘I gotta party tonight or I’m missing out.’ You don’t do that. Then it’s a Tuesday and suddenly nitrous oxide, marijuana and alcohol get involved, and you wake up completely wrapped up with your wife in a duvet cover that isn’t even from your hotel room, watching “Sully,” and you might have burned two lampshades trying to light a cigarette when it was on your head.

Maybe getting high rather than drinking might be the key to party longevity.
Yeah, I think so. Alcohol tends to be a little harder on the body as you get older. Marijuana is big now, especially with vaporizing, and it becoming legal in so many places — well, the places that need money and are going to use it correctly. I think marijuana becomes the jam the older you get. And I think nitrous oxide in moderation at the dentist can really help as well. I feel strongly that as you age, so does the wisdom of your party skill set.

Even people who aren’t classic potheads are into marijuana now.
Yeah, people aren’t potheads anymore. Now there’s just marijuana users. But you don’t have to wear a tie-dye T-shirt, wear dreadlocks and listen to Bob Marley to smoke weed anymore. Now you can be someone who smokes at the start of the day instead of drinking coffee, and get s— done.

I’ve always been grossed out by the hippie side of marijuana use.
I hate stoner culture. Agreed.

You’re in the next Steven Spielberg film, “Ready Player One.” Are you allowed to talk about that at all?
No, [Spielberg] said, “Never talk about working with me. Now, get out of my bedroom!” Well, he walked in on me. I was there, trying to put rose petals all over the bed and do an origami piece that says, “Thank you for having me in your film.” He was just like, “Never say that you worked with me, and get out of my bedroom!”

It’s a very different film than you’ve been in, even considering some of the bigger movies you’ve made, like the fourth “Transformers” and “Deadpool.”
Well, it’s also motion-capture. It’s super f—ing awkward. You’re in a tight bodysuit with balls all over it, and a helmet with cameras looking at you. It’s in a totally fluorescent room and everything is gray, and there’s building blocks and chairs. It’s a whole different deal.

And it’s not technically your first Spielberg film. He produced the “Transformers” film you’re in.
He’s made it clear to me that we’re Cheetos brothers. We both like Cheetos and we eat Cheetos out of each other’s bags. He’s made it clear that he wants this to be a working partnership. He said, “I’d like to partner with you and have you create movies and be in movies for us.” That’s the really surreal part — that Spielberg and his brilliant crew at Dreamworks are saying, “We want to work with you.” It’s f—ing surreal.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge
 
 
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