Milton Waddams is a creation of Mike Judge, the man behind Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill. He rose to fame in a series of short animations shown on Saturday Night Live, before becoming a character in Judge's debut live feature film, Office Space. This article tells the story of this strange stapler-obsessed worker.
A life in shorts The character of Milton Waddams was created by Mike Judge in 1991 in the short animation Office Space for Comedy Central. He reappeared in a series of shorts on Saturday Night Live in 1993 and 1994. In these he was voiced by Judge, himself, but when the director was casting for his 1999 live action version, the role was taken by Stephen Root, the talented character actor. Who is Milton? Life at the software company Initech is hard enough for most people but for one employee in particular, it is unbearable. This is Milton, a mumbling, disgruntled, downtrodden, meek misfit. Constantly abused by his obsequious boss Bill Lumbergh, made to move to increasingly smaller cubicles and even deprived of his favourite red swingline stapler, things just keep getting worse. Unable to take much more, he sits at his desk making crazed threats about burning down the office.
Back into a corner
Milton took to life in the Office Space film, which may not have been critically acclaimed on release but has grown as a cult classic on DVD. Unlike the shorts, Milton is not the main character in the film, while his boss Lumbergh also plays second fiddle in a plot involving the equally frustrated Peter Gibbons.
The secret is out
Of all the Office Space cast though, it is Root and Gary Cole (as the boss), who shine brightest. Milton suffers more than ever, never getting a piece of cake at office celebrations, being moved to the basement and not being paid when the bosses realise he was actually made redundant years before, but kept turning up anyway. Milton's mantras As in the shorts, Milton spends a lot of time mumbling threats and generally being ignored. The best Office Space quotes, however, live long in the memory of the viewer and Milton has his fair share of those. "I'm going to quit. And I told Don, too, because they moved my desk four times already this year, and I used to be over by the window and I could see squirrels, and they were married," he rambles, brilliantly. A bit of a player throughout, he does have a a big say in the film's denouement.