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For three seasons now, Thomas Middleditch has played Richard Hendricks, the anxiety-filled leader of the Pied Piper startup in the HBO comedy hit “Silicon Valley.”
Middleditch plays the part so well that he doesn’t fault people who meet him and think he’s just like Richard in real life.
“I have people come up to me and I like it when they get surprised: ‘You’re not like Richard at all.’ I take that as a compliment,” the actor told Business Insider over the phone recently.
It doesn’t take long to realize Middleditch is in fact not like Richard. In conversation, he’s full of energy and engaged. A far cry from his alter ego, who often stumbles over every joke or point he tries to make.
That anxiety only builds for Richard in season three as Pied Pier has moved up in the world. It’s now found an investor, but Richard has been ousted as CEO.
One thing Middleditch is very happy with this season is Richard’s ramped-up comedy, so the character isn’t solely portrayed as the show’s straight man.
“I like that they gave me some physical bits,” he said. “One of the things that you saw in the teaser, me slamming my face in the desk, I like that kind of stuff.
“A lot of comedies, I think, make the wrong choice of having the straight man being this bland emotional conduit for the audience,” Middleditch continued. “Everyone else has the wacky lines and he just sort of sits there. I want to make sure he has fun stuff to do.”
Middleditch loves the comfort of being on a TV series that has a strong fan base and isn’t looking to end any time soon. But looking forward, he hopes to show other types of characters he can play in roles he’s taking during the time between seasons.
He stars in indie dramedies “The Bronze” (in theaters) and “Joshy” (out later this year), and an outlandish comedy he shot with his “Silicon Valley” cast mate T.J. Miller, “Search Party,” opens next month.
“At the end of the day I want to play characters that interest me,” he said. “That said, I’m not in the market for any computer hacker characters in a film – I wouldn’t mind venturing into more dramatic stuff – but I also kind of want to remind people that comedy is what I love doing, comedy is what I’ve been doing for years and years and I’ll never stop doing comedy.”
And he wants more people to realize he’s not Richard Hendricks.
“I would like to think that goes away a few minutes after meeting me,” he said.