Silicon Valley star Jimmy O. Yang, who can currently be seen in theaters playing a douchebag in Crazy Rich Asians, sat down with Marc Maron for his WTF podcast this week and opened up about how he landed his role on Silicon Valley, his feelings regarding the departure of T.J. Miller, and a casting director from Modern Family for whom Yang holds a grudge.
There’s actually a decent story about luck and chutzpah behind Yang landing his series regular role on Silicon Valley. He initially auditioned to be a cast member for the pilot, but after he was rejected, he was called back in for the bit role of Jian-Yang in the first season. He appeared in three episodes, earned $900 per appearance, and used that money to buy a car, which he planned to use to pay his bills by becoming an Uber driver. Soon thereafter, however, Yang was offered a series regular role on Other Space, a series on the short-lived streaming network, Yahoo! Screen. Yang, however, could not take a series regular role in Other Space and keep his job on Silicon Valley, so he was given a very short deadline to make a decision.
Yang’s agent decided to go for broke, leveraging Yang’s offer from Yahoo to ask Silicon Valley to match it. “I was like, ‘No, you’re f*cking crazy,’ Yang said to his agent. “‘You’re stupid. Mike Judge is going to think I’m a f*cking a**hole. They’re never going to call me back again. Are you serious? I had like five words in the first season!'”
The gamble, however, paid off, and HBO matched the offer and made him a series regular. “It was 11 a.m. and I was drinking a beer at the farmer’s market and I was so f*cking stressed out waiting for my agent to call,” Yang told Maron. “I was on the trolley, and I just remember my agent called and said, ‘Silicon Valley is going to make you a series regular.’ And I just started like weeping on the f*cking trolley. That moment was going to change my life, and it did.”
Yang still has a lot of affection for those who helped him land that role, including his agent and a casting director who put him on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. However, he also has some resentment toward certain people from earlier in his career, particularly Jeff Greenberg, the casting director on Modern Family, who Yang calls an “a**hole.”
“That guy is a f*cking d*ck,” Yang said. “I’m not trying to start a beef with anyone, but that was one of my first auditions. I was on Modern Family, nervous as sh*t, reading two lines,” he continued. “And he, like, gave me a note, and I was like, ‘Oh, so. I’m actually genuine? I’m not lying to her?” The casting director exploded. “JESUS CHRIST. JUST DO WHAT I TELL YOU!”
“How is that how to behave with an innocent young actor? Insult my confidence? How could he do that?” Yang asked. “How could he be so mean to some guy who never done anything to him? So f*ck him! I don’t even plan on being on Modern Family so f*ck him.”
Yang, however, has no beef at all with T.J. Miller, who left Silicon Valley a season ago. “I was sad,” Yang said. “I was very sad. I didn’t see it coming. He was, like, my best friend on the show. Every scene I had was with him.”
“Honestly, without T.J.,” Yang added. “I don’t think I would have made it. We had just so much chemistry. It was great. It was like magic.”
As for Miller’s departure? “He just called me in the middle of the night and said, ‘I’m not coming back.’ I tried to convince him to come back, but his mind was made up. He wanted to go be a movie star in New York with his wife. I was sad.”
Yang was also concerned about his character in the wake of Miller’s departure since the two so frequently worked together. However, it turned out to be a “blessing in disguise.”
“I would love to still be working with T.J., but selfishly, my character can fly a little more. Have his own plotline. Have its own opinions and mess with other characters, instead of it just being me and T.J., although I would’ve been happy to do that for the next 15 years.”
In other words, Yang has no hard feelings over T.J. Miller’s exit. All of his resentment and anger, in fact, seems to be tied up on that Modern Family casting director.
Yang, by the way, also has a new book out, How to American: An Immigrant’s Guide to Disappointing Your Parents. Otherwise, he can be seen in Crazy Rich Asians now, or in Silicon Valley when it returns for season six sometime in 2019.
(Via WTF with Marc Maron)