In Silicon Valley circles, Elon Musk certainly has a cult following: the SpaceX and Tesla CEO is consistently cited as one of the most admired tech visionaries and his tweets and interviews are closely parsed for clues to the future.
But to some people, Musk is just another guy who can take your picture with a real celebrity.
That’s according to TJ Miller, an actor who plays the boorish Erlich Bachmann on HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” Apparently, during a party in Redwood City, California, not only was the actor unaware he was speaking to a billionaire, neither was a nearby fan who wanted a picture.
Musk dutifully lined up and started smiling, only to be handed the camera — so the fan could get a picture with a TV actor.
Miller is quoted in the New Yorker saying:
While we’re talking, some woman comes up and says ‘Can I have a picture?’ and he starts to pose — it was kinda sad, honestly — and instead she hands the camera to him and starts to pose with me. It was, like, Sorry, dude, I know you’re a big deal — and, in his case, he actually is a big deal — but I’m the guy from ‘Yogi Bear 3-D,’ and apparently that’s who she wants a picture with.”
Miller says that when he first met Musk, he treated him like an average person, which unnerved the PayPal billionaire:
I think he was thrown by the fact that I wasn’t being sycophantic — which I couldn’t be, because I didn’t realise who he was at the time. He said, ‘I have some advice for your show,’ and I went, ‘No thanks, we don’t need any advice,’ which threw him even more.
Ultimately, Miller thinks that actors “have a kind of celebrity” that Silicon Valley “big shots” will never have, and that’s why many of them don’t know exactly how to react to the HBO show, which gleefully skewers the excesses and quirks of the tech industry.
So you might assume that Miller might not have a shot at the next Tesla Model S, but lucky for him, Musk apparently didn’t take the slights too personally. In another interview, Miller said that “Elon Musk certainly gets the joke.”