20 Things You Might Not Know About Office Space
When Office Space premiered in theaters on February 19, 1999, it was hard to imagine that Beavis and Butt-Head and King of the Hill creator Mike Judge’s first attempt at writing and directing live action would become the oft-quoted classic it did. When it made around $12.9 million at the box office, it continued to be an unlikely candidate to become a pop cultural cornerstone that would literally change restaurant chains and stapler designs. Repeated appearances on cable television and a successful life on DVD made Office Space the phenomenon that it is.
1. IT ORIGINATED WITH ANIMATED SHORTS THAT RAN ON MTV AND SNL.
Milton was a series of shorts Mike Judge created, wrote, animated, and voiced. It starred Milton Waddams, presumably when he was still technically working for Initech, and an early version of Lumbergh. The first episode (shown above) aired on MTV’s Liquid Television in 1991, alongside some other Judge shorts like The Honky Problem and Huh?. During the 1993-94 season of SNL, Milton made three more appearances.
2. THE MOVIE WAS MADE DUE TO THE SUCCESS OF THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY.
20th Century Fox wanted a new “big, broad comedy” after the success of the Farrelly Brothers movie, and figured that the Milton shorts had the potential to become one. Judge initially didn’t think it was a good idea, but eventually got on board.
3. THERE WAS A SPECIFIC JOB MIKE JUDGE HAD THAT INFLUENCED HIS WRITING.
The former engineer alphabetized purchase orders for 2-3 weeks, for eight hours a day, which he described as “god-awful.” The fact that he couldn’t daydream nor talk to someone without losing his place in the alphabet made it distinctly bad.
4. MIKE JUDGE SPOKE AS BUTT-HEAD AND BOOMHAUER ON SET.
Judge voiced those characters on Beavis and Butt-Head and King of the Hill, so it wasn’t particularly difficult for him to appease some crew members who insisted on the impersonations.
5. MICHAEL BOLTON LEARNED TO BE AT PEACE WITH BEING CALLED A "NO-TALENT ASS CLOWN."
The singer came off as annoyed in a 2003 article where he said, “I was doing fine. Then they made this movie, and I can’t go anywhere!” Ten years later, he admitted that the movie is funny and willingly signs Office Space DVDs for fans.
6. THE STUDIO WANTED THE CHARACTERS TO BE CHIPPIER.
7. THEY ALSO DIDN’T LIKE THE MOSTLY ALL HIP-HOP SOUNDTRACK.
Focus groups changed 20th Century Fox’s mind about the inclusion of artists like Ice Cube, Scarface, and, of course the Geto Boys, whose songs “Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta” and “Still” serve as the official soundtrack to printer beatdowns everywhere since 1999.
8. DIEDRICH BADER HAD A CLEAR IDEA ON WHAT LAWRENCE SHOULD LOOK LIKE.
9. JOHN C. MCGINLEY ORIGINALLY AUDITIONED TO PLAY LUMBERGH.
That role went to Gary Cole, but as a nice consolation prize, Dr. Cox from Scrubs played Bob Slydell, a.k.a. the taller, mustachioed Bob.
10. TPS ACTUALLY STANDS FOR SOMETHING.
At the 10th anniversary screening, Judge revealed that Peter had to fill out Test Program Set reports. The reference dates back to his engineering days.
11. IT’S BEEN COMPARED TO A HERMAN MELVILLE SHORT STORY.
The protagonist in the 1853 short story Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street hand-copies legal documents until he starts responding to every request by his boss with the phrase, “I would prefer not to,” and refuses to do anything, including leave his desk or eat. The similarity between Melville’s plot and the movie wasn’t lost on movie critics, bloggers, or high school teachers.
12. IT’S MEANT TO BE SET IN "ANYWHERE, U.S.A."
13. ACCOUNTANTS WERE THE FIRST PEOPLE TO QUOTE THE MOVIE.
Judge figured that the studio executives he was talking to throughout production couldn’t relate to the boring, soul destroying jobs Office Space was portraying, but he still had doubts that his brainchild would resonate with audiences. He first felt optimism when he heard that the accountants in the post-production department were referencing the movie before it even came out.
14. IT INSPIRED T.G.I. FRIDAY’S TO STOP IT WITH THE FLAIR.
As you surely remember, Jennifer Aniston’s character, Joanna, grew increasingly disengaged with her server job at T.G.I. Friday’s stand-in Chotchkie's because she could never seem to wear enough buttons, or “flair,” on her uniform to appease her superiors and counterparts. In real life, TGI Friday’s noticeably phased out the flair by 2005. Judge revealed last year that one of his assistant directors asked a Friday’s employee—without revealing his or her affiliations—about the absence, and was told that they “removed it because of that movie Office Space.”
15. THE ACTOR WHO PLAYED BRIAN, THE FLAIR-LOVING CHOTCHKIE’S WAITER, SUED THE STUDIO.
A special edition DVD called The Office Space Box of Flair included the 32-page book, The Office Space Guide to Flair, and 15 buttons (15 being the minimum number of flair a Chotchkie’s server must wear). Todd Duffey wanted to be financially compensated for his face appearing on the cover of a book and on one of the buttons, but the false endorsement violation claim lawsuit was dismissed.
16. MIKE JUDGE PLAYED JOANNA’S CHOTCHKIE’S BOSS, STAN.
He wore a wig, a moustache, and glasses to make it a pretty good disguise. The role is credited to a “William King.”
17. THE RESTAURANT WHERE THE CHOTCHKIE’S SCENES WERE FILMED CLOSED IN 2009.
18. SWINGLINE MADE RED STAPLERS THREE YEARS AFTER THE MOVIE CAME OUT.
Milton’s precious office item needed to pop on screen, so a prop designer painted a Swingline stapler red. After potential customers called and e-mailed the company asking for a Milton stapler that didn’t exist, some enterprising folks made a profit making and selling red staplers on eBay. In April 2002, the company finally offered a “Rio Red” model.
19. OFFICE SPACE INSPIRED PEOPLE TO QUIT THEIR JOBS.
20. MIKE JUDGE DOESN’T LIKE THE ENDING.
He realized that the entire third act should be re-written a little too late in the process—after the final test screening.