EXCLUSIVE: Thomas Middleditch Puts Physical Comedy on Display on 'Silicon Valley' Season 4

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“Shooting anything physical is so funny,” Thomas Middleditch
tells ET about filming Silicon Valley
season four, which premieres Sunday, April 23 on HBO.

As Richard Hendricks, the creator of a data compression
start-up, the actor often had a thankless role to play in the first couple of
seasons. While the center of the series, Richard is a constant worrier and very
much a straight man to louder characters, such as Erlich Bachman (T.J. Miller),
an arrogant entrepreneur and partner in Richard's company, and the increasingly
zany and subversive Donald "Jared" Dunn (Zach Woods).

MORE: How Thomas Middleditch Got Physical (and Funnier) on 'Silicon Valley' Season 3

But as season three proved with a first-ever Emmy nomination
for Middleditch (and season four will expand upon), Richard can be very funny
-- especially when the actor gets to put his physical comedy chops on display. Last
season, the character was very much at the center of the laughs, thanks to
on-screen meltdowns, his extreme neurotic behavior and confrontations with
terribly funny consequences.

One such moment was when Richard smashes his face into a
desk during an argument with Jack Barker (Stephen Tobolowsky). “That is all
very much in my wheelhouse,” Middleditch revealed to ET last summer, adding
that anyone who has worked with him in the improv scene knows him as a “real physical


So, when it came to filming that particular moment, the
actor insisted that he did not need a stunt guy. “I was like, ‘No. I’ve been
doing this my whole life. I can handle a face plant,’” he recalled telling the
director, Charlie McDowell. “I was just like, ‘Make sure that shot, that you
capture it as live.’ Because I find physical comedy sometimes gets not as funny
the more you edit around it.”

And from the looks of season four, Richard’s slapstick
evolution continues. In the trailer, the character is seen shoving his foot
through a closet door. While the moment called for stunt guys and safety
equipment, Middleditch was game to do the physical stunt. But he did admit to
needing some assistance this time around: “They’re, like, thinning out the door
so I can kick it because I’m not very strong,” he reveals with a laugh. 


And that’s what is so funny to him. While all MIddleditch
was doing was putting a foot through a door, “it’s the amount of production
that goes into something like that is kind of hilarious,” he says.

But the physical comedy is not all fans can look forward to
when Silicon Valley returns. The new
season will shake things up as Richard decides to quit his company and focus on
creating a new internet. “For him, it’s not big enough, it’s not grandiose
enough,” Middleditch says of Richard’s aspirations that go beyond algorithms
and video chat technology. “For Richard, at least, this is such a Hail Mary
attempt at greatness.”

His goal will lead him down some darker paths and unexpected
scenarios, which will finally include sex on the series. While not giving away
much, Middleditch just teases that Silicon
has “embraced the full HBO nature of the show.”

--Additional reporting
by Leanne Aguilera