Tis the season to cut loose on the company’s dime! The mandatory fun and unprofessional madness that festoons work places in holiday cheer and gets employees loose on free booze is the twisted tradition at the center of Paramount Pictures’ latest R-rated comedy Office Christmas Party. When the florescent lights are swapped for disco balls, and the water coolers spiked with tequila, it’s the perfect time for unlikely friendships to form under glittering string lights. So it’s fitting that Office Christmas Party teams up one of Hollywood’s most outrageous comedians with one of its most lauded drama heavyweights.
T.J. Miller has had audiences howling with laughter, whether as the arrogant entrepreneur of HBO’s Silicon Valley, the wisecracking bestie in Deadpool, or as the lovable voice behind animated heroes found in How to Train Your Dragon and Big Hero 6. Alternately, Courtney B. Vance has long been a stalwart in television drama, bringing his leveling stare to Law & Order: Criminal Intent, ER, and most recently The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, which earned him an Emmy for his searing portrayal of swaggering defense attorney Johnnie Cochran. You’d be hard-pressed to come up with two more unexpected co-stars. But in Office Christmas Party, Vance’s no-nonsense persona serves as the perfect foil to Miller’s good-hearted but goofy branch manager.
Brought to you by co-helmers Josh Gordon and Will Speck, Office Christmas Party follows the quest of an earnest boss (Miller), who aims to save his company by throwing a massive, morale-boosting holiday celebration to land a major client (Vance). And as you might suspect, things get wild. Screen Rant sat down with the Miller and Vance to talk some of Office Christmas Party‘s most outrageous gags, and how these curious co-stars forged a crisp comedy collaboration.
Are you OK?
T.J. MILLER: Yeah, I’m just ready to rant about WHAT YOU SAW ON THE SCREEN! FOR SCREEN RANT!
Good. I’m glad. We’re on task. I like it. So yeah, we get to see a very different side to Courtney in this film.
T.J. MILLER: Oh my gosh, don’t we?
Because you’re known as a dramatic actor and T.J.’s kind of your guide in cutting loose. What was that like to work together?
COURTNEY B. VANCE: He’s is my muse.
T.J. MILLER: I like that. I would say that. And he, mine. And well, my wife. Courtney B. Vance and my wife are my muses.
I kind of imagine you guys in a Sears photo, all three just…
T.J. MILLER: Yeah, I think so.
…like laid over things.
COURTNEY B. VANCE: He asked me if I partied and I said…”I used to.”
T.J. MILLER: Yeah, that’s exactly right. But it is, you see him go from straight-laced character Walter, who Courtney B. Vance would of course be great in, and he is, but then once he gets to the party…WHOAAAH does he go insane. And he brings the same level of commitment that he does to dramatic roles to this, a very comedic role. And I want to say, I believe in my heart, that I should’ve won your Emmy but I think that you did deserve it.
COURTNEY B. VANCE: Thank you. I’m so thankful of that heartfelt declaration.
T.J. MILLER: That’s another fun thing about this movie, speaking of heartfelt…
COURTNEY B. VANCE: …heartfelt…
T.J. MILLER: I like that it’s an R-rated comedy, but it is a holiday movie….
COURTNEY B. VANCE: …for the family but leave your children at home.
T.J. MILLER: It’s A Wonderful Life but with digital printouts of, 3D digital printouts of genitalia. So that’s exactly what it is.
That keeps coming up at these interviews.
T.J. MILLER: I know. I know. It’s real.
COURTNEY B. VANCE: We didn’t bring any with us?
I thought there were some in the swag bag? Am I wrong? That was my guess.
T.J. MILLER: The swag bag guess…but those are too scale. So, I, in real life, would be much….smaller.
COURTNEY B. VANCE: ….much smaller…
Well, there’s some things about Office Christmas Party that reminded me a lot of another ensemble Christmas classic, which is Love Actually. Do you guys have any thoughts on how it might compare or contrast?
T.J. MILLER: I think it’s closer to Die Hard, than it is Love Actually. *laughs*
COURTNEY B. VANCE: I think it’s closer to Hangover.
T.J. MILLER: Really? You know what it is? It’s an ensemble piece, truly: Hangover was consistent laughs, which this very much is, and it was really about the chemistry of those four guys. What’s amazing, is we have more than four incredible comedians is this: Randall Park, Vanessa Bayer, Olivia Munn is very, very funny, you *points to Courtney* very funny, Rob Corddry, Kate McKinnon, Sam Richardson, Karan Soni (who’s in Deadpool with me) – I literally can’t remember all the great people.
Yeah, it’s literally like a checklist…
T.J. MILLER: Yeah, and person after person really handles their part of the movie. Also I like the pacing because right now I think you need to be laughing, maybe not laugh-a-minute but a laugh every minute and a half is about what we’re trying to give you.
COURTNEY B. VANCE: It’s just a wonderful story but with a heart about family, because it is about family, ultimately. About you and your sister and how she’s got you in a headlock…
T.J. MILLER: …and wanting to make your workplace feel more like a family.
COURTNEY B. VANCE: And that’s ok.
T.J. MILLER: Now more than ever people, if you’ve seen the film Rob Corddry and Kate McKinnon have a very strange relationship but those are two very different characters who have very different opinions and very different views that kind of come together through partying. And I think that’s what our message is right now, “Get into the holiday spirit, party a little too much….which is OK right now but come together and go see a movie, so that for an hour-and-a-half you don’t have to talk to your family.”
It sounds like Office Christmas Party will fix the nation. Is that what you’re pitching?
T.J. MILLER: We’re hoping. Or we’re going to pitch in our part. It’ll be a solution by committee.