Here’s why I love the Television Critics Association press tour. You can just be standing around at a cocktail party looking around for someone from a show that your audience follows. Then some totally A-list star bumps into you. Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski were there from “The Office,” but a star of The Hangover trumps even the leads from a hit TV show.
Ed Helms slid past hordes of press gathered around his costars and ended up right in front of me. My first thought was the indie movie he has going to Sundance next week, so that made him happy to talk with me. I snagged a 10 minute exclusive chat about “The Office” and Hangover 2 thanks to the magic of TCA.
Q: You have a film going to Sundance.
Ed Helms: Yeah, are you going to be there? Yes, very excited. We can just talk about that if you want.
Q: Yeah, what kind of film is Cedar Rapids?
EH: It’s a gorefest and the feel good movie of the year. No, it’s kind of a poignant little story of just a very small kind of world, but the movie looks at it very microscopically and it feels big. It’s a Midwestern guy just kind of getting in over his head. Because we’re so close to him and his reaction is so overwhelming and terrified it actually has kind of a resonance I think.
Q: Is it a comedy though?
EH: Yes, it’s a comedy but it has some dark edges to it.
Q: I actually got a calendar in the mail.
EH: Is it different shots from the movie?
Q: It’s one photo of all three of you at the top.
EH: It’s a cheap calendar it sounds like.
Q: Was it a big opportunity for you to do a starring lead role?
EH: Well, it was huge for me. It’s a movie that’s very near and dear to me because I helped develop it with the writer Bill. It was his idea that he brought to me and then he and I kind of actualized it. The fact that we were able to get Alexander Payne on board and Miguel Arteta was kind of a dream come true, to get that group together to make this thing. John C. Reilly and Anne Heche, Isaiah Witlock just all got on board. I’m excited about it.
EH: No, that seemed like a great sort of splash but I haven’t really seen it bubble up since then. The writers are so good with these cold opens. Sometimes they really capture the zeitgeist in a really fun weird thing out there. I didn’t even know lip dubs were a cultural phenomenon when we did it.
Q: I didn’t either.
EH: We were just latching onto something going on out there. Maybe it wasn’t that big if neither of us knew.
Q: Is there funny stuff coming up for Nard Dawg?
EH: Yes. For the first time you get to see Andy roller skate soon which will change your whole perception of the sport of roller skating. We shot at this roller rink out in the valley and I was so insanely sore the next day. You’re right, it’s one of those things you don’t do in 20 years and it hurts. But, it’s fun for Andy and Andy loves it. Dwight and Darryl play hooky one day and that’s where Andy winds up. So that’s fun and of course we’ll be seeing the most epic storyline of the show’s history unfold as Michael departs. We’re going to see a lot of our cast I think start to jockey and fight for the opening.
Q: Would Andy make a good manager?
EH: I know that Andy thinks he would make an amazing manager and that he’s vying heavily. My personal opinion is that the cast as a whole is so strong, I literally feel like anyone could step into that role and elevate the show.
Q: I guess the question is could he be as bad a manager as Michael?
EH: Right. That’s a good question. I don’t know. Michael Scott has just carved out such an incredible specific thing that whoever steps into that role, steps into that position within Dunder Mifflin will have a lot to live up to. What’s exciting is there are so many possibilities and the whole cast is up for it.
Q: Have you wrapped in Thailand for The Hangover 2?
EH: Yeah, unless we get reshoots but we’re done. We wrapped it up, Hangover 2.
Q: What was that shoot like in Thailand?
EH: Hearts of Darkness. I mean, we went to hell and back and I think you’re going to see it on screen. It was a hard movie to make. Fun as hell but hard as hell.
Q: Was it important to do the sequel right away?
EH: No, I think it was important not even for the fans as much because I feel like the fans are just psyched to see something whenever it comes up. Ghostbusters is going on 20 years since the last incarnation and I’m psyched to see that, but I do think from a logistical standpoint of rounding us up while we’re still all excited about it and Todd Phillips is excited about it, you want to pounce on it. You want to get it done.
Q: Does Stu have some fun with the Thai ladies like he married the Vegas stripper?
EH: You know, we’ll leave that to the imagination for now but all the guys have a lot of fun and get in way too much trouble, a lot more trouble than the first one.
Q: Do you guys have a lot more confidence going into a sequel to such a successful movie?
EH: Well, I think there was a sense that we had to really rise to the occasion and elevate the sequel. So we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. There is also, I think we do feel confidence just in who the characters are. We all love to work together and we didn’t really know each other in the first one. Now we kind of know what we’re going into so there’s a confidence that comes from that. There’s a real sense of urgency to meet the expectations. Nobody’s phoning it in.
Q: How did you weigh in on the Mel Gibson issue?
EH: Eh, it is what it is and it’s done. I’m glad I feel like as a cast and a crew, the whole cast and crew really was cohesive and bonded through it. That’s the important thing. We got a good movie ahead of us.