Photos courtesy of 20th Century Fox

David Herman sheds Bolton image

By NICK POWILLS

Everyone knows a guy like the witty, outrageously dorky character of Michael Bolton. His bitterness toward the office world was so naturally acted by David Herman, that it gave each and every viewer of the movie a chance to relate. Whether that be relating to the actions of Bolton, or being able to say, "Hey, I know that guy. He sits right next to me in his cubicle." Either way, the character of Michael Bolton was an influential character, thus being a pivotal access point for the entire film.

Five years after making its debut just prior to the millennium, Office Space is still being talked about on a daily basis. Whether that be friends quoting Milton or Lumbergh, or getting pumped about watching it on Comedy Central, Office Space is an everlasting creation.

"I am so glad it is getting attention five years later," Herman says. "People come up to me and they are trying to convince me how important it is. ‘You don’t understand it’s not just my office that talks in office space speak, it’s the entire office building.’ It really seems to hit people who are either entering that passive aggressive office space, or in it. They really seem to eat it up. That feels so it. It feels so good that it is relevant and people are really having that ‘oh my God this is my life’ role."

Herman shined as an actor in his role as Bolton. He crafted such a realistic real to a very central role in the film. However, in real life, Herman does not act like the character of Michael Bolton, but he can sure relate to him.

"[Mike Judge] knew I would be playing Michael Bolton. I play a good weenie," Herman says. "I know that guy. I know the feeling. I could not last a week in an office space. I am not that guy. I would not be able to endure that for a second. I would crumble. The walls would come crumbling down so quickly."

Although Herman’s personal characteristics are far from that of Michael Bolton, he still has no problem being remembered for his character. In fact, he embraces it.

"I was once down at Grand Central Station in New York and I saw Fred Qwynn - you know, Herman Munster - and he was crossing the street and there were these two home girls ahead of me, and as he was crossing the street, the two home girls went ‘Herman Munster?’ And as Fred passed he said, ‘fuck you." And I was like oh that guy’s life is over being Herman Munster. But I am happy being Michael Bolton. That role and movie has really affected people, so I don’t get mad at people calling me Michael Bolton."

Out of all the actors in Office Space, Herman probably had one of the easiest times securing his role as the "weenie" Michael Bolton, as he and Judge were friends prior to the filming.

"It was such a great movie," Herman says. "You know, Mike showed me the script a month or two before the initial table read and I was so excited. It felt so strong to me from the get. I really get his sensibility and I love his sensibility. He fought from me from the get. He has been really wonderful to me. He has championed anything and everything I wanted to do. He knew me from King of Hill, and knew I could handle this, like this was up my ally. We did initial table read and just went into it.

"Judge and I knew each other for four years and I knew [Stephen] Root and [John C.] McGinley. It felt like summer camp to me. And I love Austin (Texas), it is one of the greatest American cities period."

The bonding of the cast can be easily seen while watching the movie. The chemistry is explosive as each actor did his/her best to properly portray the feelings of those of us stuck in an office scenario. Part of building that chemistry is getting along with your fellow cast members. Herman says his experiences were wonderful and felt like summer camp.

"Both Gary and Root did these roles based on cartoon characters and they really brought them to life," Herman says. "It could have been so one dimensional and dead. I mean how many cartoon movies work? I thought they did a great job. John has a living snake up his ass; he is on fire all the time. I thought everyone made it really matched that world: the world of an office. And Ron is great in it. And Jennifer - I don’t think Jennifer gets any where close to the credit she deserves for that movie."

When the movie tanked at the box office, Herman was left unfazed by it. He was so content and happy with the job the cast did that he was oblivious to its initial failed mark on the world. What he was really upset about was how movie critics critiqued it. They were harsh and seemed to copy each other in saying that the movie fell apart at this point, or this actor failed at this part. Herman did not appreciate this blindness.

"It was the first movie that I had a large part in it so I read some reviews. I wanted to run through all the reviews to see what the critics were saying," Herman says. "It didn’t seem like critics used to be this way, but they all said the same thing. This was the one striking thing that made me upset. Everyone described Gary Cole’s character and unctuous. What the hell is unctuous? What is that? Greasy? And they all used that word.

"What disturbed me wasn’t that it didn’t make money, but that all critics were saying the same thing. And that word unctuous came up over and over again. No body really observed the movie. I really knew this was a funny piece, whether or not it was going to make money I didn’t know."

Before Office Space

David Herman’s acting career got its first lift in the 1989 movie, Lost Angles, a movie that included McGinley. From there, Herman’s next huge role came in 1995 when he earned a spot on the hit Fox show, Mad TV.

"I don’t think I have anything pleasant to say about that," Herman says with an uneasy laugh. "There were a lot of great people there working there, I just needed that show to be a lot funnier. I really felt uninspired and left there burning every single bridge. I was told I would never work in this town again, and the next day I was working. A lot of really talented people, it was just sort of puny. I wouldn’t erase it though."

Building a career

Herman is continuing to make his mark as an actor. Recently, he shot a few episodes of 24 before having to quit in order to film an untitled soccer comedy with Will Ferrell and Robert Duvall, scheduled to come out in 2005.

"24 was a weird gig because I started to do it and I got this movie mid way through filming and I just had to walk away," Herman says. "I don’t know exactly what happens to my character, I haven’t seen it yet. I guess they started to establish me as a super genius or something, and I had to walk away, so it was weird.

"This movie with Will Ferrell Robert Duval should be great. I am a soccer ref, basically a glorified extra. I got to do scenes with Robert Duval, so I can check that off of my life to do list."

Herman will be starting as Roy along side Julian Holloway as Siefried in the new TV series, Father of the Pride, which will debut in the fall. Fellow Office Space actor Orlando Jones will be featured in the show, as well as the great John Goodman.

Herman is also still doing King of the Hill with Judge and Root, as well as other animation gigs that come his way.

From here on out, Herman is not sure exactly where he will go, but he is driven and has his ethics for the roles he will accept.

"I don’t know if I look at it as a step, I just like to work with people I like," Herman says. "I could be paving drive ways, selling lint brushes, I am happy if people offer me work.

I have been fortunate to work with good people and I hope to continue that. My real goal is to not be on a set with pricks.

"I have been really lucky enough to be a chooser and not a beggar after that Mad TV. Doing animating gigs and kind of go from gig to gig is what I like. I mainly like to work with people that I dig. I have bee really fortunate to work with some really strong people."

Back to "Office Space" main page.