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This story first appeared in the Jan. 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
When T.J. Miller scored a Critics’ Choice Award in May for his portrayal of Erlich Bachman on the HBO tech comedy Silicon Valley, he made a big impression. Stuffing his face with food on his way to the mic, the stand-up comic, 34, proceeded to give an unconventional speech (“It was literally me saying, ‘Words mean nothing, but thank you,’ ” he recalls) with his mouth full. But Miller’s quirky rant landed him the hosting gig at this year’s ceremony — to be broadcast live Jan. 17 on A&E, Lifetime and LMN — which for the first time combines film and TV critics’ honors.
You’re sandwiched between Ricky Gervais (Golden Globes host) and Chris Rock (Oscars host). Which way will your hosting style lean?
With the Globes and Ricky Gervais, you know exactly what that show is going to be and the stuff he’s going to dig into. He’s got a reputation of ripping into everybody and trashing Hollywood and tearing down the system. He’s skewering. It’s like the weird Don Rickles. It’s very cynical and negative in my opinion. And that’s not really what I want to do.
So what then is your approach?
I want to celebrate Hollywood in all of its hollowness. Like with my comedy and my life, I’m trying to say, “Hey, this is all really absurd.” I’ll tease people. I actually get an opportunity to say something about the critics. Of the people who have done this before me, nobody has really trashed the critics. If critics are open to critiquing other people, then they themselves should be open to being critiqued. The Oscars is for legendary iconic comedians to do. Critics’ Choice is for whatever strange entity I’ve become in Hollywood. I have the space to do something irreverent and bizarre. I’m very into breakables right now.
Yes, things that break.
Did you attempt to watch all of the nominated films and shows?
I watched The Martian in a hotel in Columbia, Mo. I remembered it being critically acclaimed, so I thought I should, and it ended up being an amazing movie. It was totally life-changing in terms of my perception of the world globally and how everyone can come together. It reminded me how important movies are and how important critics may actually be.
So are you rooting for The Martian?
I’ll put it this way: The Martian made me cry, Star Wars made me cheer, and Silicon Valley made me jeer — because we were technically ineligible. Game of Thrones, too, won’t be eligible until next season. It’s a bummer. Imagine how hilarious that would have been if I was nominated for an award in a show I was hosting. The rest of the show, I could react to whether or not I won or lost, and it would be such a funny, weird performance.
What’s your take on the late addition of Star Wars as an 11th nominee in the best picture race?
That was a Hail Mary move and a very, very savvy one because I don’t think it will win best picture at the Oscars, but this is actually an arena where Star Wars can win. I saw it, and I loved it. I’m interested to see how that ends up, but it’s at the end of the show, so everybody has to watch all my antics on my way there.
The show will be longer with awards for both film and TV. How do you plan to keep the audience engaged?
The fact that it’s a three-hour event is something we’ve been really mulling over in the writers room. The best way to approach it is to have things get a little bit more audacious and stranger and more interesting, as each of my subsequent appearances go. But I only do about 17 to 25 minutes in the show. For a stand-up comic who does an hour all the time, that’s not crazy. Still, you have to keep the event going. You’re an emcee at a strip club essentially.
Will you incorporate any of your stand-up bits?
No, it’s going to be all of Amy Schumer’s material.
Critics’ Choice Awards are at Barker Hangar on Jan. 17 at 5 p.m.
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