How Michael Bolton Really Felt About Office Space's Running Joke

After the success of the 1998 movie "There's Something About Mary," Twentieth Century Fox began looking for the next comedy to appeal to the Generation X audience. The studio saw something in Mike Judge's Saturday Night Live animated short "Milton" and convinced the animator to make his first live-action film.

Judge, known at the time for the animated shows "Beavis and Butthead" and "King of the Hill," seemed like the perfect choice to address a youthful audience raised on MTV, 1980s blockbusters, and cable television only to find cubicle life waiting for them beyond high school and college. Although the film initially drove studio executives crazy, it would become a cult classic.

In typical Mike Judge fashion, he pulled no punches with his humor. In "Office Space," Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Michael Bolton was squarely in his crosshairs. The film quickly became notorious for David Herman's portrayal of the eponymous character Michael Bolton, a menial employee of a software company who refuses to change his name even though he despises it. Bolton calls the real Michael Bolton a "no-talent ass clown" and exclaims, "Why should I change, he's the one that sucks."

So, what did the singer himself think of being the butt of the running Michael Bolton joke in the film?

'They had to make that f***ing movie!'

Gangster rap was on the rise in the 1990s and is a favorite of the Michael Bolton character in "Office Space." Of course, the real Michael Bolton seems like a natural contrast to the wave of rap music that helped defined the 1990s. During the decade, you were hard-pressed to escape Bolton. Between 1991 and 1998, he was nominated or won an American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist or Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist six times. The exposure created a line in the sand — if you didn't like Bolton, you were likely sick of hearing him. So naturally, Bolton made a great foil for the film's angst-ridden audience struggling to find their place in bland corporate America.

What did Bolton think about the whole racket? In 2003, the crooner seemed a bit perturbed about the film when he told EW, "They had to make that f***ing movie! I was doing fine. Then they made this movie, and I can't go anywhere!"

But like a lyric from a Bolton tune, time does heal all wounds, and in a 2013 Reddit AMA, he offered a more pensive response to fans asking what he thought about the Bolton rants in the film. He answered:

"It's a funny film. I sign a lot of the DVDs for fans. I'm glad I'm secure enough in writing, producing, and Grammys because that's one of the things people want to do. I sign them 'the real Michael Bolton.' Hoping they would do an 'Office Space 2' and have me in it."

Not only did Bolton make peace with the film, but he would also use it as a launchpad for an implausible comeback.

Michael Bolton's unlikely comedy revival

It may have taken some time, but perhaps "Office Space" inserting Bolton as a punchline inevitably sent him on a path to comedy. In 2011, Andy Samberg's Lonely Island group featured Bolton in an SNL music video, "Jack Sparrow." The video was an overnight success, catapulting Bolton back into pop culture relevance, and not necessarily for his music.

Bolton came full circle with the film and proved there were no hard feelings in 2015 when he appeared in a Funny or Die short "Office Space with Michael Bolton." The video is a "screen test" for the film where the singer replaces David Herman in his Bolton-bashing scenes.

In 2017 Bolton served as executive producer and star of the Netflix special "Michael Bolton's Big, Sexy Valentine's Day Special" where he hosts a sexy telethon/variety show to inspire the world to make love and conceive 75,000 new babies. Because what other holiday would Bolton be the king of? The special introduced Michael Bolton to audiences that weren't even alive at the height of his popularity in the 1990s. But this is no longer your parents' Bolton. I'd like to think that the Michael Bolton of "Office Space" would agree that this new version of the real Michael Bolton doesn't suck at all. In fact, he's kind of awesome.