TJ Miller is known for his performances in Silicon Valley and Deadpool, but behind the cameras, his life is not what you would expect. Miller has a shady past riddled with offensive comments and alleged substance abuse. He might be a comedian, but his life is no laughing matter.
Miller spent years taking small parts in romantic comedies and doing voiceover work before he got his big break on Silicon Valley. However, after four seasons, he left the show and hurled insults at the series that made him famous. He’s no stranger to controversy; this is everything you need to know about his shady life.
He Almost Had a Different Career
Born in Denver, Colorado, to Leslie and Kent Miller, TJ Miller showed an early interest in acting. While attending school in Denver, he participated in his school’s drama productions but didn’t think he would make a career out of acting. Therefore, he decided to attend George Washington University after graduation.
Miller had no intention of becoming an actor because he got his psychology degree with a focus on situation theory and social influence. He thought about following in his mother’s footsteps to become a clinical psychologist, but something else caught his interest. He found a love for stand-up comedy.
Trying Different Things
During his college years, Miller was a member of the comedy group RecesSs. He enjoyed stand-up comedy and wanted to explore the arts before choosing a career path. He went to Paris for summer break to study the circus arts at Frichess Theatre Urbain and attended the British American Drama Academy.
Miller also spent a summer studying Shakespeare, but comedy was his passion. Following graduation, he moved to Chicago to perform improv and stand-up comedy with local troupes. Miller toured with The Second City for two years, being named one of Variety’s ten Comics to Watch. His stardom was on the rise.
All About Comedy
Miller had a knack for comedy and released his first comedy special in 2011 titled No Real Reason. He also released a comedy album called Mash Up Audiofile in 2012. His skills earned him more opportunities, like taking part in Funny or Die’s Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival in 2015.
The touring show included now-famous comics such as Amy Schumer and Aziz Ansari. Miller was surrounded by other incredibly talented comedians who pushed him to work harder on his craft. Two years later, HBO aired his stand-up special, TJ Miller: Meticulously Ridiculous, which was filmed during his Meticulously Ridiculous Tour.
He Took Up Acting
While Miller focused on his comedy career, he also worked small acting jobs on the side. He frequently appeared as a “round table” member on Chelsea Lately and voiced Robbie Valentino on Disney Channel’s Gravity Falls. Miller also starred as Jimmy Goodwin in Fox’s The Goodwin Games.
Despite his many opportunities, Miller’s career was slow. He had to take many small roles before he got his big break. Miller briefly appeared in Get Him to the Greek and voiced Tuffnut in How to Train Your Dragon 1 and 2. He also played Dan in Gulliver’s Travels, but nothing shot him to fame.
Just a Joke
One of Miller’s biggest parts before his career took off was playing Ranger Jones in the live-action film Yogi Bear. The 2010 movie did not help his career because Miller received many negative reviews. One critic called him “dumb but not in a funny way.”
While the film received negative reviews, Miller had a hilarious audition story. He was cast after just two auditions, but as a joke, he sent Warner Bros. an improvised video audition with a real bear. The tape didn’t arrive until after Miller had already been offered the part.
One of Miller’s first controversies happened in 2012 when he made headlines with a scathing review of Dane Cook’s comedy set at The Laugh Factory. Cook was testing out new material, so Miller should have known that it wouldn’t land the first few tries.
Instead of being courteous to a fellow comedian, Miller said Cook’s jokes were arrogant and misogynistic. He said, “He is certainly not a comedian.” Miller’s comments were rude, considering he used the same type of material he criticized Cook for using.
Applauding His Behavior
Miller would do more wild stunts for attention as he became more famous. However, his managers and agents applauded his behavior. His ex-girlfriend, JC Coccoli, said Miller showed up to her magazine job “hammered and blue in the face.” He said he came from a Blue Man Group audition.
Coccoli and Miller dated around 2009, and she knew he would do crazy things just for attention. However, his behavior was rewarded, so Miller kept doing wild and crazy things to book better jobs. He figured he could get away with anything, and his agents loved it.
On a Roll
His career was on a roll as he booked more jobs like a part in Transformers: Age of Extinction. While his antics got him booked, colleagues said they never knew what to expect from Miller. Everyone assumed he was always doing a character.
One of the staff members from Chelsea Lately said they never felt like they could have a straight conversation with Miller. However, people said he was friendly and supportive at times. However, he didn’t treat people close to him that well. Everything was a game.
Everything Was a Game
Sometimes Miller was kind, but other times, his behavior hurt other people. Coccoli recalled a trip she and Miller took to his parents’ home in Colorado. She said the family had a big dinner and everyone got a place card. Coccoli’s had her name and another woman’s name scratched out.
Miller originally invited someone else as his date. Coccoli said Miller treated his relationships like a game. She said he had also hired a bodyguard to get a rise out of people. Miller thrived on the drama and didn’t take anything seriously.
His Big Break
Despite his wild behavior, Miller got his big break in 2014. He landed a role on the HBO sitcom Silicon Valley playing Erlich Bachman. The show quickly became a hit, making Miller a star. Following the first season, Miller won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
It was the fame he had been chasing for years, and he finally got the recognition he wanted. Miller soaked it in, and some people said he was a genius on set. However, Miller’s bad habits eventually caught up with him.
It Caught Up With Him
While most could forgive his less serious offenses, Miller’s substance abuse issues became harder to ignore. Coccoli said his cabinets were filled with whip-its instead of plates. Miller would drink excessively and once fell asleep in Coccoli’s car in the garage. But his career wasn’t suffering.
Miller could sleep for three hours, then go to auditions and nail it. However, things started to catch up with him. When he landed How to Train Your Dragon 2, Big Hero 6, and Office Christmas Party while filming Silicon Valley, he couldn’t keep up with work and his drinking.
Crash and Burn
Miller was burning the candle at both ends. A few years into Silicon Valley, he couldn’t keep up with everything. He would stay up late doing stand-up and then have to shoot an entire episode the following morning. Miller was usually hungover and exhausted.
Executives at HBO began to notice his bad behavior. One HBO executive said, “He thinks drinking and comedy are intricately connected.” It was funny until he couldn’t stay in character, remember his lines, and fell asleep. He was costing HBO too much money.
He Embarrassed the Show
When Silicon Valley became a hit, Miller was invited to host the 2015 Crunchies. It was the tech world’s version of the Oscars. Within the first few minutes of his time on stage, he called a woman a b***h three times and casually used racist remarks.
It was an embarrassment to HBO and Tech Crunch, who ran the Crunchies, issued an apology for Miller’s remarks. They made it clear that Miller would not be invited back. Unfortunately, Miller’s problems only got worse after this. He couldn’t control himself.
He Doubled Down
Following the incident at the Crunchies, Miller exhibited the same behavior that got him into trouble at the awards show. He made more jokes at the expense of female audience members and said calling the woman in the audience a b***h was the right thing to do.
During three separate interviews with Salon, Esquire, and Vulture, Miller said everyone behind the scenes at the Crunchie reprimanded him. The woman he called a b***h was Travis Kalanick’s girlfriend, aka the CEO of Uber. He said, “That’s why I should be laying into his girlfriend.”
No One Was Laughing
Things came to a head when Miller didn’t show up to set one day. His situation was deteriorating, and the Silicon Valley writers were wary of building Miller a three-season arc because they thought he could quit at any moment.
He felt obligated to live up to his wild-man reputation, but that was hurting him in the long run. Miller’s jokes were mostly about alcohol, and he drank onstage. Miller thought people misunderstood him, claiming he was just pushing himself to do too much. But he ignored the biggest problem.
He Was Arrested
In December 2016, Miller got into an altercation with an Uber driver, which led to his arrest. According to the driver, Miller argued with him about a controversial former president and hit him on the head. The driver also claimed Miller was inhaling nitrous oxide out of whip-its.
Miller was arrested after the incident and released on $20,000 bail. He and the driver reached a private settlement two years later, but the incident hurt Miller’s reputation further. Around the same time, he appeared in the box-office hit Deadpool.
Leaving Silicon Valley
By the end of Season 4, Miller made it clear that he would not return for another season. While Miller claimed he chose to leave, execs at HBO said the decision was “a long time coming.” His use of drugs and alcohol got in the way of his ability to be professional on set.
Miller also made it clear that he didn’t want to be there. His attitude made it hard for people to work with him, and he wasted everyone’s time by being late or not showing up at all.
The writers for Silicon Valley gave Miller the option to return for three episodes of Season 5 as a send-off for his character. Miller declined, saying his reason for leaving was due to a flourishing film career. He also defended himself against the claims made by showrunners.
Miller said, “In real life, I’m not always high like Erlich is. I’m not high when I work because it gets in the way of the comedy. I am also not the guy who’s blackout drunk, bumping into things on set.” However, everyone who worked with him saw his abuse of alcohol and drugs.
Although Miller said his flourishing film career was the reason he left Silicon Valley, resurfaced assault allegations derailed those prospects. With the rise of the Me Too movement in 2017, allegations from Miller’s time in college in 2001 came to light.
An anonymous woman who attended GWU with Miller said he became violent during a sexual encounter in which he choked, shook, and punched her in the mouth. Miller and his wife said the woman was using the Me Too movement to launch false accusations, which undermined the purpose of Me Too.
Someone Else Came Forward
The woman from Miller’s university wasn’t the only one with allegations against him. Adult film star Dana DeArmond accused Miller of inappropriate behavior while they filmed a Comedy Central series in 2012. She said Miller and the director harassed her.
DeArmond didn’t share many details about Miller’s harassment, but it only added to the negative press he had received. Things only got worse when film critic Danielle Solzman said Miller harassed her via email because of her negative review of The Emoji Movie.
He Threatened Her
Miller didn’t like Solzman’s review of The Emoji Movie, so he sent her a transphobic email. Solzman is a transgender woman and shared what Miller wrote to her on Twitter. She said Miller once supported her transition but turned on her after the review.
He accused Solzman of pretending to be transgender to be “special.” Miller’s email was hateful and hurtful, and he sent her threatening messages after she posted it. He said he would have Solzman blacklisted and would take legal action.
A History of Shadiness
Miller had a long history of being rude and threatening to women. More women came forward with questionable interactions with Miller. Comedian Lauren Ashley Bishop said Miller threatened to destroy her career if she filed a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend, who was Miller’s friend.
Another woman accused Miller of attempting to drug her drink after she rejected him during an open mic night. He was known for showing disdain for women during his comedy acts and even said women weren’t as funny as men. This behavior was nothing new.
Despite his denial, the backlash from the sexual assault accusations and transphobic comments hurt his career. The same day the article about the sexual assault was published, Comedy Central announced the cancelation of Miller’s series, The Gorburger Show. Mucinex also dropped him as their spokesperson.
Many people were concerned about Miller’s behavior, including fellow comedians. People who did stand-up with him at the Comedy Cellar said he drank too much and were worried about him. However, many didn’t think it was too late for Miller to turn his life around.
Enabling Bad Behavior
Although his behavior was hurting his career, everyone around him made excuses. After the transphobic comments came out, Miller’s team said he was “going through some things” but denied he was transphobic. That didn’t stop him from sending Solzman threatening messages.
No one close to Miller was holding him accountable for his actions. Some even wondered if his wife, Kate Gorney, was facilitating his bad behavior. People close to Miller said Gorney didn’t always do what was best for Miller because she wanted the media attention.
She Had No Control
Miller and Gorney started dating in college and married in 2015. While many said she enabled him, others claimed she didn’t know how to deal with him. One source close to the couple said Gorney made late-night phone calls to friends about Miller’s behavior.
The two had been kicked out of a Monte Carlo casino in May 2017 because they were being aggressive. Miller was in France for the Cannes Film Festival to promote The Emoji Movie. Even before the casino incident, he had been acting out.
His Breaking Point
After years of drinking too much and acting out, Miller reached his breaking point in March 2018. While on an Amtrak train from Washington DC to New York, Miller called the police to report that a female passenger had a “bomb in her bag.”
However, no evidence of explosive devices or materials was detected after officials stopped and searched the train. According to witnesses, Miller was drunk and had been involved in an angry exchange with a woman in first class. He had to be removed from the train before his intended stop.
Facing the Consequences
About a week after he made the false bomb threat, Miller was arrested at LaGuardia Airport in Queens on federal charges. He was released on $100,000 bail the following day and faced up to five years in prison. Miller needed to answer for his bad behavior.
Miller and his lawyers started working on a plea deal to avoid a trial. In the meantime, DreamWorks removed Miller’s name from How to Train Your Dragon 2 and had someone else rerecord his lines. He had gotten away with many other things but couldn’t get out of this situation.
A “Manic Episode”
Miller said the fake bomb threat was because of a manic episode. The incident took a toll on his personal and professional life, which was worsened by the subsequent attacks in the media and online. It sent him on a downward spiral.
Miller later told celebrity shrink and relationship guru Venus “Dr. V” Nicolino, “Imagine having thousands of people say, ‘I hope you die.’ The human brain is not prepared for that, especially if you have a little less brain.” He was referencing his risky brain surgery.
An Unusual Condition
Years before the incident, Miller underwent risky brain surgery following a brain hemorrhage and multiple seizures. He learned he had a congenital brain malformation in 2010, which resulted in mental health challenges. Miller claimed it led to the bomb threat.
Miller revealed, “I started to go insane, not just chemically but physically because blood was going to my right frontal lobe.” He started using alcohol as a depressant to “temper” his mania. Although he had surgery to repair the problem, a part of his frontal lobe was removed.
Adding to the Hate
Shortly after the bomb threat and Miller’s arrest, actress Alice Wetterlund, who played a recurring character on Silicon Valley, made accusations against Miller on Twitter. She said he was inappropriate and unprofessional on set, adding, “TJ Miller was a bully and petulant brat.”
HBO responded by saying it was the first time they had heard Wetterlund’s claims. Maybe she felt safer revealing her experiences when Miller was at his lowest point. Miller hadn’t worked on the series in over a year, but Wetterlund wanted to share what happened.
He Got Help
Sometimes people have to hit rock bottom before they can face reality. After the bomb threat, Miller started working with a team of professionals to manage his mania through therapy. He also began seeing a neuropsychologist. He should have been in therapy years ago.
Miller’s mental health history and medical analyses impacted his trial. In July 2021, prosecutors dropped the charges due to expert medical input. Instead, Miller agreed to pay full financial restitution for the cost of law enforcement response to the false call and continue Cognitive Remediation therapy.
He Had Changed
There were many warning signs leading up to Miller’s breaking point. He became rude and erratic. Many attributed his behavior to newfound fame because they didn’t know about his brain condition. Miller started name-dropping and claimed The Emoji Movie was needed “in this administration.”
Everyone should have known something was wrong when Miller claimed a movie about the poop emoji was necessary for the American people. Unfortunately, people brushed it off as him being arrogant. In reality, his brain condition, combined with excessive drinking, changed his behavior.
Nothing Nice to Say
After leaving Silicon Valley, Miller made things worse by insulting show creator Alec Burg. He called the series “cyclical,” like an old sitcom. He claimed Burg was recycling what he knew from working on Seinfeld. Miller made sure to burn that bridge.
Miller said he wouldn’t speak to Burg because he didn’t like him. He added, “I don’t know how smart Alec is. He went to Harvard, and we all know those kids are idiots. Those comedy writers in Hollywood are Harvard graduates, and that’s why they’re smug.”
Throwing a Friend Under the Bus
Along with Burg, Miller insulted his longtime friend and improv partner Thomas Middleditch. Miller told the Hollywood Reporter, “I’m not an actor; I’m a comedian. And I don’t know how the f*** I hoodwinked Hollywood into giving me this career.”
Miller claimed he stepped down from Silicon Valley as a favor to a “spotlight-hungry” Middleditch. He said, “I want to step aside. Thomas Middleditch has always wanted to be a star. He’s always wanted to be the star of the show. If I step aside, the ensemble will have a little more room.”
Not a Fan
In 2016 and 2018, Miller played Weasel, Ryan Reynolds’ close friend/sidekick in Deadpool. Although he was in the first two films, Miller said he would not be in the upcoming third installment. Miller claimed Reynolds was mean to him on set in between takes.
Miller claimed Reynolds asked to do one more take, and then “as the character, he was horrifically mean” to Miller as if he was actually Weasel. He didn’t know why Reynolds would hate him, adding Reynold was “kind of an insecure dude.” Considering his past, Miller is not one to talk.
They Worked It Out
After Miller called Reynolds mean, the two reportedly made up over email. Reynolds emailed Miller saying the comment on set was a misunderstanding. The two talked things through and cleared up the problem. Miller explained that he didn’t expect a response from Reynolds.
Miller backtracked on his comments after Reynolds apologized. He said he didn’t think his weird story from set would have repercussions. He then said Reynolds was funny and amazing in Deadpool Miller blamed the media for twisting the story. He said his kind comments didn’t show up in media reports.
Miller shared the story about Reynolds because he knew a story about an A-list star would give him attention. Therefore, he talked poorly about Reynolds to add something to his otherwise dead career. He accused Reynolds of being “insane” and “mean” before adding, “he’s a really nice guy.”
He also suggested that Reynolds hated him because Reynolds thought Miller was “funnier” than him. That’s a bit of a stretch, and he had to backtrack after Reynolds responded to his comments. Miller claimed it was the media’s fault for taking his comments out of context, but he just wanted attention.
Miller hasn’t done much since his 2018 arrest, but he has a new comedy special on YouTube. Most networks didn’t want to work with him after his many controversies, so Miller turned to YouTube to promote his work. His new special is called Dear Jonah.
Miller said this special is unlike anything that’s ever been made. He also has an upcoming show in DC, which will be his first in a few years. He is trying to make a comeback, so hopefully, he won’t make the same mistakes as he did in the past.
Not a Comeback
Although his new comedy special should have been a comeback, Dear Jonah didn’t gain much attention, and reviewers said it’s not worth the watch. According to Decider, Miller didn’t lean into his “still-manic energy.” It also took four minutes for people to find out who Jonah was.
To make matters worse, during the credits, Jonah said he was a fan of Miller because of Deadpool, not his stand-up shows. Miller said he has already filmed another comedy special, and hopefully, that one is better than this.