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Job getting you down? OK, but don’t try this at home. Mike Judge explains how and why he did real life ‘research’ for this slice of office life movie.

While preparing Office Space, Mike Judge realised the time seemed ripe for an office comedy. "There hasn't been one in quite a while," he points out. "And I can't remember any taking place in a hi tech, computer company environment. With Office Space, I wanted to offer my take on the hundreds of Silicon Valley office parks and white collar environments springing up around the country."

"Mike writes about his own experiences, which are universal" producer Daniel Rappaport

Judge set his screenplay in familiar territory. "My first job out of college was in engineering – in an office," he explains. "When I got the job, I felt really good about it. But after about a week and a half, I walked into the office, looked around and thought, 'Is this it?' I lasted a little over a year and held my next position for about two months. As I moved from job to job, my employment periods become briefer and briefer."

Judge used his workplace experiences as a model for Office Space. He did not want to make an outright lampoon of corporate America, but have his story and characters based firmly in what Judge calls 'just left of reality.'

"What makes Mike's humour so popular," says producer Daniel Rappaport, "is that it's identifiable. Mike writes about his own experiences, which are universal. He knows how to take those situations, bring them to life, and find the humour in them."

The humour in these situations revolves around the film's central character, pent-up computer programmer Peter Gibbons. "Peter is frustrated at work and realises things are worsening each day," comments Judge. "He also is troubled by corporate downsizing and how his company is mistreating loyal, longtime employees. So, Peter decides to find what he thinks will be a better life."

"Sometimes you have to slow down and let it (happiness) catch you." Ron Livingston

Judge found his 'Peter Gibbons' in actor Ron Livingston. Best known for his co-starring role in the sleeper hit Swingers, Livingston, according to the director, "looked like a guy you believe could have ended up in a programming job. I easily envisioned him sitting in a cubicle, thinking he ought to be doing something better."

"Peter is an average guy who is just in the wrong place," says Livingston. "It's not so much that his job is terrible; he realises that he doesn’t belong at INITECH, and that he has spent far too much time there."

Livingston's philosophy about life and work isn't far from his cinematic alter ego's "Office Space," he says, "is a comedy about the pursuit of happiness, and how it isn't necessary to always frantically chase it. Sometimes you have to slow down and let it catch you."

While Peter plans to conquer the corporate grind, he hooks up with an attractive waitress named Joanna. Judge made an exception to his "No TV/movie star rule" by casting Jennifer Aniston. "What I like about Jennifer being so recognisable," Judge offers, "is that putting her in a ridiculous chain-restaurant uniform makes the outfit stand out even more. On the other hand, even with her recognisability, Jennifer looks like someone you could have gone to high school with."

"I had never really thought about the man behind Beavis and Butt-head" Jennifer Aniston

No stranger to ensembles as one of the stars of the hit series Friends, Aniston relished the idea of being included in Judge's world of disillusioned employees. "His characters are bizarre and distinct, which makes them fun to play," says the actress. Being a fan of Judge's work was another attraction. "Beavis and Butt-head are rude and crude, but they make me laugh," she admits. When first introduced to Judge, the creator and voice of the duo, the actress was somewhat taken aback. "I had never really thought about the man behind Beavis and Butt-head; then I met Mike and he was this nice, clean-cut guy. I was thrown."

Office Space – Australian release; April 15, 1999

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"I think this is a movie that everyone can relate to," Livingstone explains. "It would have been ludicrous for Tom Cruise to play this disgruntled employee - audiences would not have bought it. It's to his [Mike Judge] credit and good judgement that he stuck to his guns and hired me." The film may have gotten lost in the Hollywood shuffle, but the actor believes that has to do with the perception that the film has, given its talent. "The core Beavis and Butthead fans who'll see the movie will be wary of it, because it's different from that, while audiences who are not into them, had a problem being convinced to see this. It's a double-edged sword." Still, Office Space received warm reviews, and Livingstone is genuinely proud of the film. "I think it has a lot to say about one's satisfaction with who you are, and it's also very funny."

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