This story first appeared in the Oct. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Did you always have me in mind to play Richard?
Mike Judge: We did. We just didn’t know if anyone would get behind it. We even named the character Thomas. It wasn’t changed until about 10 minutes before the first take. (Laughs.)
Alec Berg: I came on after the pilot.
So your first reaction was, “Is it too late to recast?” OK, so why is the show so hard to write?
Berg: It’s a show about guys who are on computers 16 hours a day, but we’re not able to show people on computers 16 hours a day.
Judge: A lot of movies have tried to make computers sexy …
Berg: Tron was cool. “Hey, we’re inside a computer!”
Judge: … but it’s not at all like Tron if you’ve been inside a computer, which I have. I used to be an engineer.
Writing about nerds is also brutal. Have you gotten hate tweets?
Judge: In the pilot, [actor] T.J. Miller says: “Ask me what 9 times F is. I re-memorized the hexadecimal times table when I was writing machine code at 16.” He says the answer is “fleventy-five.” I got out a hexadecimal calculator. It’s actually not sleventy-five.
Berg: There was a lot of bitter tweeting, “No, no it’s 27! Fail!”
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Have you come up with software or app ideas in the writers room that you think could actually work?
Berg: If anything were plausible enough for us to think it could work, we wouldn’t be here right now.
Judge: You remember the Nip Alert app that they created in the pilot? Well, when we went to the real TechCrunch Disrupt convention in San Francisco to do research, these Australian douchebags had one called TitStare. Our show hadn’t come out yet, so I was worried!
Berg: That’s a breach!
Judge: I’d wondered while writing the pilot if Nip Alert was just too ridiculous. Then TitStare came along.
Berg: It was apparently just ridiculous enough.
Is it true some Brazilian guys just launched a company called Hooli, like the one in our show?
Berg: They’re about to get sued. I hope they enjoy posturing up against HBO’s finest lawyers.