TJ MILLER

The Amer­i­can star puts on his best smi­ley face for The Emoji Movie

SFX - - Contents - Words by James Mot­tram /// Pho­tog­ra­phy by Smallz & Raskind

Dead­pool’s best mate talks Merc with a Mouth se­quel – and The Emoji Movie. Yes, he plays an emoji – but it’s not poo.

He does stand-up. He hosts a pod­cast. He re­leased a com­edy rap record (The Ex­tended Play EP). And they’re just the things you prob­a­bly haven’t heard about. TJ Miller is ev­ery­where right now, thanks in part to play­ing Weasel, the wise-ass bar­tender in Dead­pool and tech en­tre­pre­neur Er­lich on HBO’s Sil­i­con Val­ley. This month, he can be heard voic­ing Gene in The Emoji Movie (yes, they have made a car­toon based on tex­ting icons – at least he’s not voic­ing the poo emoji, like Pa­trick Ste­wart). Gene is a multi-ex­pres­sional emoji who must seek out nor­mal­ity. As for Miller’s own jour­ney, it’s about to get real – with the up­com­ing se­quel to Dead­pool, thriller Un­der­wa­ter with Kris­ten Ste­wart and, most ex­cit­ingly, the role of I-R0k in Steven Spiel­berg’s vir­tual re­al­ity yarn, Ready Player One. There re­ally is no stop­ping him from to­tal world dom­i­na­tion…

Do you see any sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween you and Gene?

When they first came to me and said, “You will play the ‘meh’ emoji,” I said, “I don’t know if that ex­actly matches my com­edy.” But once I re­alised he was manic in his ex­pres­sive­ness, I thought, “That’s per­fect.” There seemed to be a lot of com­edy in­her­ent in that. You co-star with James Cor­den. Were you a fan?

You can quote me on this: I didn’t think he was that funny un­til this movie. A talk-show host… you don’t have to be par­tic­u­larly bit­ing. His car­pool karaoke is just like The Emoji Movie for the peo­ple. So I thought he was more charis­matic, like­able and Bri­tish. And then in The Emoji Movie, he is con­sis­tently so funny. He has such good jokes, there’s a bunch of weird stuff. So af­ter we fin­ished the movie, I was like, “I have to give it up and show re­spect for this moth­er­fucker!” With this, Dead­pool and the up­com­ing Steven Spiel­berg movie, Ready Player One, is it an ex­cit­ing time for you?

Not re­ally. I did this film Yogi Bear 3D, and that I feel was a defin­ing time in my life. This is just a down­ward slope ul­ti­mately that ends in a cold, lonely death. And The Emoji Movie is a high­light on that down­ward slope, to be sure! No, I’m kid­ding, it’s al­ways sur­pris­ing. I al­ways tell [my wife] Kate, it doesn’t make sense to me, the amount of things that I’m do­ing. I have a stronger work ethic than al­most any­body in the busi­ness. I think only Amy [Schumer] and Aziz [An­sari] could touch that. But then Aziz… he’s not in The Emoji Movie. He’s do­ing Mas­ter Of None. He isn’t re­ally in film, whereas I’m in a lot of film as well as tele­vi­sion. You’ve done other chil­dren’s an­i­ma­tions too, like Big Hero 6 and How To Train Your Dragon. Why?

I try and hit ev­ery sin­gle de­mo­graphic, be­cause I try and make every­body laugh, not just some peo­ple. So some peo­ple are like, “Why would you do The Emoji Movie, dude, you’re on Sil­i­con Val­ley?” I’m like, “No, I’m on both! I’m do­ing both!” The peo­ple that love Sil­i­con Val­ley may not love The Emoji Movie but that’s on them! So the kids love you?

The kids, strangely, know my voice. When I say I’m Fred from Big Hero 6, they’re like, “I knew I knew your voice from some­where!” I’m also the Mucinex Man – I do com­edy in the ad­ver­tis­ing space be­cause peo­ple are go­ing to be ad­ver­tis­ing any­way, you might as well make it funny. Were you sur­prised at how well Dead­pool did?

Oh yeah… we had no idea! Now we’re go­ing to make more Dead­pools and there will be more R-rated su­per­hero genre films. So that’s re­ally, re­ally good. All we need is for Dead­pool 2 to be great. He’s al­most the an­ti­dote to the poi­son that is those very milk-toast su­per­hero genre films. Like Fan­tas­tic Four came out and every­one was like, “What are they do­ing?” I like Dead­pool be­ing present ev­ery cou­ple of years to cleanse the palate. What can we ex­pect from Ready Player One?

It won’t be like any­thing you’ve ever seen be­fore. A big part of Ready Player One is it’s true to the book be­cause the book is so good. It’s so good, so en­gag­ing, the def­i­ni­tion of a page-turner. But then Steven [Spiel­berg] made it a Steven Spiel­berg film. And what’s odd for me… in ev­ery­thing, I bring com­edy, and when I got there I said, “Thank you so much for hav­ing me in this film,” and he said, “Are you kid­ding me? We wrote the part for you!” And that’s just so strange, to be do­ing a scene with only one joke in it, and af­ter three or four takes, he comes over and says, “TJ – I just want to tell you, I think that line is funny. It’s per­fectly placed. I didn’t say any­thing be­fore but I just want you to know it’s re­ally funny.” For some rea­son he just thinks I’m a real goof and I’m happy about it! Who bet­ter to think I’m a goof than Steven Spiel­berg?

The Emoji Movie opens on 4 Au­gust.

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