Reuniting the cast of Office Space for a photo shoot was no easy task, especially considering EW’s pitch went something like this: Yeaahhhhh, we’re gonna need you to go ahead and come in on a Sunday…mmm ‘kay? Turns out the passive-aggressive management style of the movie’s nauseating boss, Bill Lumbergh, is actually a great motivator. That morning, writer-director Mike Judge and his team of reluctant cubicle-dwellers — Ron Livingston, David Herman, Stephen Root, and Gary Cole — happily gathered to celebrate the movie that flopped at the box office but became sacred to all those who’ve ever come down with a case of the Mondays.
”I’ve had a lot of people over the years say they left their jobs after seeing the movie,” says Ron Livingston, 44, who starred in the 1999 comedy as Peter Gibbons, a disgruntled drone-turned-embezzler at the soul-crushing software company Initech. ”That feels like a lot of responsibility,” he adds, exhaling deeply. ”I hope it worked out for them.” Though modestly budgeted, Office Space collected only $4.2 million in its first weekend, despite the presence of Friends star Jennifer Aniston as a beleaguered chain-restaurant waitress. (Neither Aniston nor Ajay Naidu, who played Peter’s pal Samir, was available for EW’s Reunions shoot.) ”I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed out it didn’t do better,” says Judge, 48, the creator of Beavis and Butt-head and co-creator of King of the Hill. He admits 20th Century Fox not only struggled to market the dark comedy but also didn’t really get it themselves: ”Here’s this weird movie where nobody is smiling. Executives did not like it.”
It was only when Office Space was released on DVD in 2000 that a fan base began to build. Eventually, the movie that had petered out with a pathetic $12 million at the box office became a cult phenomenon. ”All of a sudden you’re getting pulled aside and told, ‘You don’t understand, dude. That’s me, that’s my entire office building!”’ says Herman, 44, who costarred as Peter’s angry and unfortunately named colleague Michael Bolton. Herman, now primarily a voice actor who has played characters on King of the Hill, Bob’s Burgers, and Futurama, was the first to arrive at the photo studio that Sunday, followed by Cole — who starred as Lumbergh, the smarmy, coffee-mug-toting middle manager who casually destroys the will to live of everyone under him. ”All the jobs I had were blue-collar or service jobs. Because I had no experience, I didn’t realize the button [the movie] pushed in people,” says Cole, 55, who remains a sought-after character actor with roles in everything from Family Guy to The Good Wife. ”Then I paid attention more and heard stories about people having to sit on it and bite their tongue while getting lectured. I kept trying to think of the most annoying things people would be put off by. As people were suffering, just do a little…” He stretches and cracks his back, the way Lumbergh does while telling Peter to work on the weekend.