Silicon Valley star Jimmy O. Yang, who can currently be seen in theaters playing a douchebag in Crazy Rich Asians, sat down with Marc Maron for his WTF podcast this week and opened up about how he landed his role on Silicon Valley, his feelings regarding the departure of T.J. Miller, and a casting director from Modern Family for whom Yang holds a grudge.
There’s actually a decent story about luck and chutzpah behind Yang landing his series regular role on Silicon Valley. He initially auditioned to be a cast member for the pilot, but after he was rejected, he was called back in for the bit role of Jian-Yang in the first season. He appeared in three episodes, earned $900 per appearance, and used that money to buy a car, which he planned to use to pay his bills by becoming an Uber driver. Soon thereafter, however, Yang was offered a series regular role on Other Space, a series on the short-lived streaming network, Yahoo! Screen. Yang, however, could not take a series regular role in Other Space and keep his job on Silicon Valley, so he was given a very short deadline to make a decision.
Yang’s agent decided to go for broke, leveraging Yang’s offer from Yahoo to ask Silicon Valley to match it. “I was like, ‘No, you’re f*cking crazy,’ Yang said to his agent. “‘You’re stupid. Mike Judge is going to think I’m a f*cking a**hole. They’re never going to call me back again. Are you serious? I had like five words in the first season!’”
The gamble, however, paid off, and HBO matched the offer and made him a series regular. “It was 11 a.m. and I was drinking a beer at the farmer’s market and I was so f*cking stressed out waiting for my agent to call,” Yang told Maron. “I was on the trolley, and I just remember my agent called and said, ‘Silicon Valley is going to make you a series regular.’ And I just started like weeping on the f*cking trolley. That moment was going to change my life, and it did.”
Yang still has a lot of affection for those who helped him land that role, including his agent and a casting director who put him on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. However, he also has some resentment toward certain people from earlier in his career, particularly Jeff Greenberg, the casting director on Modern Family, who Yang calls an “a**hole.”