In a conference call promoting his recent comedy “Office Christmas Party,” actor and comedian T.J. Miller (“Deadpool”) talked about everything imaginable, from his improvised comedic style to stories of a wild Texan house party. Needless to say, the entire conversation was a riot. Miller stars in the movie as Clay Vanstone, the wilder and relaxed brother of Jennifer Aniston’s character, Carol. Miller shared some of his own crazy holiday party stories that rival the chaos in the “Office Christmas Party” trailer, describing one particularly wild Christmas.
“If you were at (this) party, you were kissing or you were missing out,” Miller said. “And that was insane. I kissed 15 people, okay? Some of them women, some of them animals.”
These types of zany stories and ridiculous commentaries are what make Miller so entertaining. His ability to combine absurd, surrealist humor with gags is unpredictable and stylistically unique. For him, acting is about improvising on the spot rather than deep character studies and Daniel Day-Lewis-esque methods.
“I think by now actually in Hollywood, if you hire me, you know that I’m going to be improvising,” Miller said. “So, that’s either a good thing, or it’s kept me from getting certain jobs.”
On the set of “Office Christmas Party,” improvising was even encouraged.
“A lot of these lines are my own, you know?” Miller said. “But it was a great script by great writers, and we also have this guy, Robert Terbowski. He was constantly producing post-it notes with alternate lines.”
Miller placed great faith in the writers and even admits to not reading the script beforehand. “I didn’t even read the script before I signed up for the project, because I’m not a very good actor,” he said. “So I don’t usually read the scripts.”
Miller is best known for his roles as Weasel in the successful superhero movie “Deadpool” and Erlich Bachman in HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” Although both characters are fan favorites, they aren’t the most virtuous of people. Clay Vanstone, however, does not quite resemble these abrasive and arrogant roles that feature a heavy arsenal of crude jokes and clever insults. “This was a good opportunity for me to say to America, ‘I don’t just play an abrasive blow-hard asshole who sort of insults anybody and everyone very, very sharply,’” he said.
When asked what ingredient Miller is in the “Office Christmas Party” ensemble, Miller said, “I’m paprika. Paprika. OK. P-A-P-R-I-K-A. And paprika’s sort of the spice that is its own kind of flavor, but helps to enhance and heighten the other flavors. I was the ingredient that both added something to the overall film, but also helped sort of enhance and elevate the flavors of comedy around us.”
The holidays, for many, involve anxiety-inducing family get-togethers and long plane rides with negative emotional return on investment. Miller wants audiences to escape what could be a painful couple of days and do what everyone deserves to do after a stressful 2016: party hard.
“Right now, we need something to go laugh at that is positive and inclusive, and even a little bit more than that — it’s, uh, just a party. It’s about a huge party. It’s about everybody coming together to party, and that’s the message.”
“Office Christmas Party,” for Miller, is a blissful escape from the stressors of daily life and holiday parties. “Have too much eggnog, go and see a funny movie or stay home and watch something funny,” Miller said. “It’s not time to argue or fight with family this Christmas season. It’s time to go see a movie, you know? Just take your mind off of it.”