'Office Space' reunion: Real-life Milton Waddams do exist

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It would be nice to believe that Milton Waddams is a singular creature, unique among other things that walk or crawl on this planet.

Unfortunately, the pimply, food-stained, mumbling outcast from Office Space — who wears glasses so thick they should see through time, and clings to his red Swingline stapler the way a baby clings to a blanket — may actually be more common than we’d like to believe. “Have you ever been to Comic-Con?” laughs Stephen Root, the actor who brought him to life in the 1999 comedy. “I think you’d find there are more than a couple.”

(Okay, Comic-Con guys, before you get all offended and start throwing 20-sided die, he was just joking. Have a laugh at your own expense, fellows.)

If there’s one thing the recent EW reunion of the cast of Office Space brought to light, it was general empathy for Milton’s sad situation — even if he wasn’t the most appealing gentleman. “[We] wanted him to be a guy who didn’t wash much. He wore the same tie everyday. It was completely stained,” Root says. “These are guys who live in their space, and don’t like to come out. He’s one of those guys.”

Like the other hopeless clock-punchers at Initech, Milton is warped by the smooth indifference of suffocating manager Bill Lumbergh (played with “umm, yeahhh” perfection by Gary Cole). As the boss-man repeatedly forces Milton to move his desk until he finds himself in a dungeon-like storage room, Lumbergh’s friendly-faced bullying makes him all the more insufferable. “To me, all that started from the baby boom generation, the hippies,” says writer-director Mike Judge. “Everybody was suddenly too cool to say, ‘Hey Milton, move your desk!’ Instead it had to be, ‘Hi… what’s happening, yeahhhh… if you could just go ahead… ’ It started with ‘We’re the laid back ‘60s generation; we’re not that ‘50s boss. We’re gonna be cool,’ and it turned into ‘Yeeeaahhh, hmmmm ….’ The ‘yeah’ that means ‘no.’”

With the recession still pulverizing the American workforce, Root recently learned of a real-life Milton, suffering a similar fate at his job. “This film is so up do date, a friend of my emailed me, and he works with some real corporate a–holes, and said literally one of his bosses moved another guy into a storage room,” Root says, shaking his head. “He asked, ‘Please, would you mind sending him a stapler?’”

On Twitter: @Breznican

Read more:
This Week’s Cover: The Reunions Issue!
‘Office Space': Cast and director talk Jennifer Aniston and umm, yeahhhh, making a cult smash — VIDEO


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  • Elizabeth

    I think “Office Space” was the first time a lot of us were able (unfortunately) to identify with a crazy work environments. Milton & Lumbergh are alive and well everywhere.

  • Chris

    This movie should be required viewing for anyone working in an office.

    • Justin Poppiti

      Exactly, chris.

  • Cygnus

    WTF is “PC LOAD LETTER”?!?! As a former printer repair tech, it makes me laugh every time, as I can feel for the lunacy of cryptic printer code messages.

    Milton does really exist. He’s not an exaggeration of many types of office nerds. I’ve seen his type a dozen times over, especially in IT, and you just hope you have a cubical you can hide in when the dude goes postal some day.

    • GHB

      Cygnus, I’d bet that of all those office nerds you’ve encountered, they all know how to spell “cubicle”

      • Me Fail English?

        Amphiboly fallacy is fail.

    • Office Space Fan

      I think I actually seen a “Milton” type about 12-14 years ago, didn’t know him well thou. Wondered what happened to him ?
      Either he’s in the basement next to the boiler (LOL) or retired…
      I never seen a Lumbergh type….not yet anyway…

      This movie is required watching for anyone who works in a office anywhere in the world.

  • Clete

    Years ago, I worked in a bank. The department I worked in consisted mostly of females. I still remember one weekend when the office replaced the carpet and we we instructed to put all of our stuff that was on the floor on the desk. Everyone did, except for the garbage cans. Monday morning, the offices were ready, but the garbage cans were piled in the front office. There was then a twenty minute argument about garbage cans, who’s was who’s. I just listened and waited, I really hadn’t formed an emotional attachement to my garbage can. I took the one that was left and was completely happy with it.

    • Cygnus

      “mostly females”. you hit the nail on the head there.

      • A man who thinks women should put down the damn fork

        +1!

      • ThisGirl

        Ouch. I’m female. I could care less which garbage can came back to me – ok, well, I’d want it to be the same size as what I have, but yeah. Now, if we are talking about staplers, I might have to throw down. :)

  • Mac

    My boss is the redhead who’s too happy every morning. She insists on getting a response from her “Good Morning” rapping on the desk and/or waving her hand in front of your face if you do not hear her because you are listing to your iPod/iPhone. I believe she needs to get her asskicked.

    • ThisGirl

      This. Made me crack my shiz up. Because it’s true. I can relate ;)

    • Cara

      I think you need to get your assfired. You actually think it is appropriate to wear headphones at work, and ignore your boss when she says good morning? Let me guess, you’re 20-something?

      • Grumpster

        100% agree!!!

      • MR

        It’s not anywhere in my job description to say “good morning” to anyone. I’m there to make money, not friends. If listening to his ipod helps him do his job, then go for it. She shouldn’t be bothering him.

  • SaraS

    Just today, I was showing my class a video on Youtube and it wanted me to install the new Adobe flash player. There were a couple of different downloads in a row where the bar is filling from the left to the right (sorry, can’t figure out a better way to explain it) and I thought of when he was downloading to the disc before the scam and kept waiting for the downloads.
    I mentioned it and got a few nods of recognition, but mostly teenage looks of bewilderment.

  • boocat

    I loved this movie!!!! Talk about the boss from hell – Gary Cole nailed it.

  • Jon C

    I’ve been going to Comic-Con since ’04. I work in Insurance so I’ve actually become Milton.

  • sarah d

    20 sided die! Total spit take on that one! My beloved husband has a velvet bag with 20, 6, 100, you name it sided die in it. Long live the nerds!

    • pastafarian

      The beloved 100-sided die, aka the golf ball.

  • Justin Poppiti

    Hilarious movie

  • Tajah

    Love this movie and have worked in call centers so I know the pain personally now. Definitely a recommended movie to all my geek friends.

  • c

    Yeahhhh, I’m gonna need you to come in on Saturday.

  • Grumpster

    If you’ve worked in a cubicle, this film is for you. If you’re a boss, you need to see what torment you put your workes through and what an as$ you look like doing it to others.

  • meme

    cult classic. i LOVE office space. makes me laugh every single time.

  • MR

    This movie perfectly depicts how worthless and ignorant middle Management is.

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