You’ve seen the memes. The guy with clear rimmed glasses, maroon suspenders and a black and yellow patterned tie, standing with his hands on his hips. The captions are sarcastic and relatable, but they always end with Bill Lumbergh’s famous line, “That would be great.” To mark the upcoming 20th anniversary of Office Space, Entertainment Weekly sat down with the director and actors in an oral history-style interview, which revealed that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were almost cast in the cult classic.
What is Office Space?
Office Space was a box office bomb turned cult classic. A cult classic is a film or TV show with a dedicated following. Popular examples include The Room, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Mad Max. The movie revolves around Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) who hates his dead end job at the software company, Initech. After undergoing hypnotherapy, Peter is in a blissful state after his therapist dies mid-session. His attitude about work changes which leads to a promotion at work. But when Peter’s friends learn that their obnoxious boss, Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole) is downsizing the company and eliminating their jobs, Peter and his friends hatch a revenge plot.
Why did Office Space nearly cast Matt Damon and Ben Affleck?
This leads us to our question: Why did Office Space nearly cast Matt Damon and Ben Affleck? Well the Fox studios suddenly wanted big names to star in the low budget movie. “Fox wanted us to pursue Ben Affleck and Matt Damon,” casting director Nancy Klopper revealed to EW. “This was post-Good Will Hunting. They weren’t exactly unknown.” Thankfully, Ron Livingston’s agent called Klopper and asked to audition. Although he was in Swingers, he was not considered well known. But Klopper was in awe of Livingston’s audition saying, “I FedEx’d Ron’s tape to Mike Judge in New York and wrote, “You’re not going to believe this guy.” Soon after, director Mike Judge made the decision that Livingston was his guy, despite Damon being “really nice and [liked] the script.”
Those were the nails in the coffin for Damon, not that it hurt his career. Damon went on to star in The Talented Mr. Ripley the same year and both men have done pretty well for themselves in the years since.