5 Fun Facts From The 20th Anniversary Office Space Q&A with Mike Judge and Cast
We were so so very lucky to get to attend the 20th anniversary screening of the comedy classic Office Space with writer/director Mike Judge & select members of the cast in attendence, with a Q&A hosted by Texas filmmaker Richard Linklater. It was a very special evening, full of laughs, dancing Miltons, and pimped out staplers (see picture below). It was a true blast to see the film in 35mm alongside fellow fans and cultists.
The film will always be near and dear to our heart — in fact, we affectionately refer to Ron Livingston’s Peter Gibbons as our spirit animal — and even after all these years, it’s still insanely relatable. Nothing really beats it; it remains as the absolute epitome of the workplace comedy. It was nice to catch back up with the film’s creator and stars to see how they feel about the film after all these years. The full Q&A can be listened to in its entirety below, but for those of you on the run, we’ve mined the five most interesting facts to emerge from the conversation to help you combat those case of the Mondays. Enjoy!
Buster Keaton inspired the car crash.
Mike Judge: That car crash… just briefly about that, anytime there was a car crash in the 90s or late 80s, it’s like seven different angles, like a Steven Seagal movie, boom boom boom. I had just watched some Buster Keaton — I think it was Seven Chances where he’s on top of a car. The camera is moving along, and then a tree branch knocks him out of the thing — and it really happened — and the camera keeps going. I was trying to simulate something like that where you’re not making a big deal out of it really, but, umm…we really did smash that car.
The car’s stunt driver, Eric Norris, is Chuck Norris’ son, and the crash’s failsafe plan involved an insane second collision.
Mike Judge: A little trivia here, the guy that drove the truck that hits [the car in the crash] is Chuck Norris’ son, and he told me, ‘Don’t tell my dad I did this.’ He was like 22. But it was scary to do too. We were in a neighborhood up in Georgetown or Round Rock, and the street we were shooting on dead ended into another street. The backup plan if the car kept going into the houses was for another guy in a truck to smash into it. [laughter] There was a moment there where I was thinking, oh my god, this is how you become… I don’t know, [under breath] John Landis… Am I gonna be the guy responsible for something horrible happening? But they knew what they were doing in incredibly precise ways.
Todd Duffey, the cheery Chotchkie’s waiter, was also in Barney.
Richard Linklater: Mike, what was the hardest part to cast?
Mike Judge: Actually, you know what, this is crazy, but I would say— wait, is Kinna McInroe here tonight? [searches audience] Oh, there she is, “corporate accounts payable” Nina. [applause]. That was, for some reason, very hard. She was great. She lived in Dallas and came down for it. And then also the cheery waiter. I tried like 900 people, and then finally Todd Duffey came. He was also from Dallas, a local hire, and he also was in Barney. [laughter] He did the voice of Scooter McNutty, and so, yeah, he saved the day. He and Kinna were the two last minute ones that I just couldn’t find for the life of me somebody to play. A lot of L.A. people go toward a certain type of person, but [McInroe and Duffey] were both people who had something fresh. They lived here [in Texas], and they just kinda knew how these people were.
A mall focus group screening saved the film and its hip-hop infused soundtrack.
Richard Linklater: This was done by a major studio; it was done by Fox, and it’s your first film. Did you feel like it was a battle? Did you get everything you wanted? Were they assholes?
Mike Judge: Uh, well, all of the above. [laughter] But, yeah, it was very difficult, and there were lots of battles… The big battle was over the music at the end. The Geto Boys song, like “Damn It Feels Good To Be a Gangsta,” and the Ice Cube song, all of that, the studio was like, ‘You can’t…’ Tom Rothman [the then chairman and chief executive officer of Fox] kept saying [in a voice similar to Beavis and Butthead’s Tom Anderson], ‘I just want it to be fun’ [laughter] And I said, ‘Well, that is fun to me.’ I went out on a limb that I probably should not have gone out on, but it worked out in my favor. I told him, I said, “Okay, the next test screening, the next focus group, if they don’t like the music, I’ll take it out,” which I should not have done. You can tell the studio, ‘Just fuck off. No, I’m not gonna do it.” I didn’t do that for some reason, but it worked out great. So, the focus group, is a theater like this, and they take 20 mallrats — I don’t know, they’re all 20-year-olds — and we’re all sitting behind them, and the moderator is trying so hard to just poison it. She goes, ‘So what do you guys think about the music?’ [laughter] And all of them just go, ‘Oh, it was great, it was great!’ And she goes, “Okay, okay, but what about the rap music?” And they all go, ‘It was great!’ And she goes, ‘But maybe there was too much of it? Maybe it was too vulgar?’ And she’s looking for anyone to nod along with her, and then this one kid just told her everything I’d been telling Tom Rothman. He goes, ‘Yeah, I know, but that’s what’s great about it. It’s this angry, vulgar music, but it’s these white guys working in cubicles, and they’re angry, which is why it goes so well with it.’ [laughter] That 19-year-old saved my life and the movie. I looked over at Tom Rothman, and he’s pacing up and down the aisle ways, and he goes, ‘Ehhhh.’ But, I gotta say, to Tom’s credit, he never fought me again on that, and he also funded the movie. It wouldn’t have happened if they didn’t do that.
The studio wanted Ben Affleck to play the part of Peter Gibbons.
Mike Judge: The first battle was with the cast. They didn’t want any of these people [motions to stage] in the movie. But then I eventually won those battles… I didn’t have to do anything. Half the time they just talked themselves out of it. Good Will Hunting had just come out, so they wanted Ben Affleck for [Ron Livingston’s] part. I like him. I loved him in Dazed and Confused. I did a movie with him later, but he’s this tall, just alpha. I didn’t even—
Ron Livingston: He’s handsome, and he’s manly. [laughter]
MJ: What I mean is I didn’t know how he was gonna play it. I had already said no, and then Rothman came to me and said [in Tom Anderson voice], ‘We cannot pay five million dollars for this movie to have Ben Affleck.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I know. That’s your mission, not mine.’ Basically, anybody famous they wanted instead of these people, but [motions to stage] these guys are famous. [applause]
Check out the full Q&A below:
What do you think? Did you learn anything cool? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always remember to viddy well!