Ed Helms On Set Interview – THE HANGOVER

     April 27, 2009

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

Opening this June is a comedy that looks great. It’s called “The Hangover” and it was directed by Todd Phillips (“Old School”). The premise is it’s a bachelor party gone horribly wrong.

The film is about a group of friends – Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms – who go to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for Justin’s bachelor party and everything goes wrong. It ends up the group parties too hard, and when they wake up the next morning, they can’t remember a thing. Their posh hotel suite is trashed and the groom is nowhere to be found. With no clue of what happened and little time to spare, the trio attempt to retrace their bad decisions from the night before in order to figure out where things went wrong and hopefully get Justin back to L.A. in time for his wedding. However, the more they begin to uncover, the more they realize just how much trouble they’re really in.

And if you’re thinking this is going to be some stale and safe Vegas movie, it’s rated R, and I’ve heard from friends that have seen it that it’s great.

But while I could go on and on about how much I’m looking forward to “The Hangover”, watch this trailer and then tell me you aren’t excited to check it out.

Anyhow, last year when they were filming in Vegas, I was invited – along with a few other online journalists – to the set of “The Hangover” to watch some filming and interview the cast. If you missed my set report you can read it here.

So while we were there we got to speak with the cast and the interview below is with Ed Helms.

While most of you might not know who Ed is, if you watch NBC’s “The Office”, you might recognize him as Andy Bernard. But after watching Ed on set deliver some of his lines on set, and after seeing the incredible trailer, I think this role might open up a lot more possibilities for Ed in comedic roles as he looks great in the film.

During our interview Ed talked about trying to film while also shooting “The Office” at the same time, what it’s like to shoot on the Vegas Strip, and what it’s like to shoot with a real baby. It’s a great interview and one worth reading.

As always, you can either read the transcript below or listen to the audio by clicking here for part 1 and here’s part 2. “The Hangover” opens June 5th at theaters everywhere.

You’ve been running back and forth between Vegas for this and LA for “The Office” and we hear you’ve been annoying everyone on set. Is that true?

Ed: I’m very ornery. But, first of all, Zach is a compulsive liar. You can’t believe anything he says. But it is true that I’ve been back and forth to “The Office” two days a week and here five days a week. The funny thing is that I hate talking about “The Office” but Zach won’t stop asking me about it. He’s obsessed with having a threesome with cast members. It’s a little creepy.

Does he specify which cast members?

Ed: No. He said any three.

So what’s the experience like working a seven-day week?

Ed: I feel like I have a constant hangover which is perfect for the movie. Actually, I found that, as long as I drink enough water and sleep enough every night, then I’m fine. It’s really kind of crazy. I may have a complete meltdown in a few days but every day has its ins and outs of focus. I don’t know. I feel like I’m holding up pretty good. It certainly helps that both “The Office” and this are insanely fun . That makes a huge difference. I think that if I were a little bummed out, I would probably fade away.

So you didn’t go to Nick Cannon’s birthday party last night?

Ed: No, I’m not tight with Nick Cannon the way Zach is. Zach and Nick go way back. I think Nick is one of Zach’s biggest comedy influences. Plus. there’s a lot of tension. I had a really rough breakup with Mariah Carey. Awkward.

Could you talk about your character in this?

Ed: I think of these three guys as three, like — if you want a grossly simplify it. Obviously we’re very complex characters and very accomplished actors playing these characters — You have basically the slickster, the weirdo and the nerd. And I’m the nerd. Which seems to be what my career is being built on. I’m just sort of a little more reserved and a little more anal retentive. Maybe a little less likely to do crazy things which makes my involvement in some of the things that do happen that much more crazy. And then my character has a little bit more of a turn in the movie. But yeah. Kind of the nerdier, more complainy, little bit scared I think.

Is this what you’re like in real life?

Ed: You know what? Yeah. I think I’m pretty nerdy in real life. I’ve had glasses since second grade.

What is Justin’s character like?

Ed: Justin is — we’re all sort of these types — Justin is like the tentpole of equanimity. Like the calm eye of the storm. He’s really chill. He’s unflappable. Our friendship is based on him sort of managing all of us. So when he disappears, we all have a meltdown together.

BREAK – Ed had to go outside to film. After a short break the interview continued….

What have you been doing outside?

Ed: We’ve been shooting a hilarious movie! With a cop car scene!

Is there any indication that Justin’s character may not actually want to get married?

Oh, no! That’s not even an issue. That’s never really an issue. He and his bride are clearly, like, tight. My character has a horrible fiancée. Or, no, a horrible girlfriend that I divulge I’m about to propose to and my buddies are like, “Oh my god. Don’t do that. She’s a witch.” But I’m like, “I don’t know. I think she’s the right one. Blah, blah blah.” So then that’s part of my sort of turn over the course of the night. Crazy shit happens. Like ridiculous shit.


Yes, there are stunts. We shot a big one the other night and it was super cool and fun.

Did you get to do it yourself?

It was very funny, I think it’s not too big a deal to tell you that it’s a car crash and they use dummies when they actually hit the car but then the car gets T-boned. We’re in this Mercedes and it gets T- boned by an Escalade and slides laterally like 40 feet. It’s a serious hit. So then they did this awesome shot where the three of us are in the car, like facing one way and they put the car on a dolly going another and a camera on a dolly going that way too. So it’s like the sliding shot directly on impact and we’re just like, “Ahhhhh!” and it’s this really quick insert right after the impact. It’s very, very funny. It was very fun to do. It was also fun, too, just to see giant cars smash into each other at high velocity.

Do you find it hard to jump back and forth between this character and your character of Andy on “The Office”?

I think that traveling from — I mean, “The Office” set is so specific and it’s such a place that is very comfortable and homey for me and I just snap right into it. When I’m in there, there’s not much of a process involved. And Vegas has become that on this movie. They’re such different places. When I’m on the strip, I’m just thinking about this movie. And also, none of the same people are around me. And Todd — the director, Todd Phillips — sort of centers me into this character. I don’t think either character is too far off from me in real life anyway. It’s not like I’m playing a big, broad Austin Powers or anything like that. I might start inserting catch from one of the other characters. Throw some Andy homages in.

What’s it like working with a baby?

Actually, we’ve done it a lot on “The Office” too. Wow, I’ve got to stop talking about “The Office”. It’s both the most delightful thing, because babies are just little kernels of joy — sort of like little joy pillows. Little puffy, cuddly balls of joy — and it brightens your day just to be around a baby but they’re so unpredictable that it’s also just a colossal pain in the ass logistically. So it’s kind of both things. But I like having babies around. I love ’em. I just like babies. I like being happy. I’m sorry.

There were a couple of times out there where the baby made you break out laughing.

Did you see that? Oh my god. You couldn’t see what the baby was doing. And neither could Todd, that’s the thing. We did the playback and you couldn’t see in the monitors. Hopefully you’ll be able to see on film, but you couldn’t see well enough in the monitors. They aren’t that good. But Zach has these blue blocker glasses. They’re actually his glasses that his character wears. Do you know what that is, blue blocker? If you’ve ever looked through them, it’s like the world’s a happier place. They’re really awesome and there’s zero glare. It’s just sort of like everything’s brighter and happier. When he puts them on the baby, the first few times the baby would go [wide eyed]. So on the first take, he froze and was staring right into my eyes. And of course Zach is mashing the glasses against his face and the baby knows he’s squishing them around and I just couldn’t deal. It was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. That baby. It has these white, zombie- like eyes. The craziest, most-intense eyes I’ve ever seen. It just wrecked me.

How do you take the cracking up on-set? Is it a badge of honor to make someone crack up?

It’s not a badge of honor to make me crack up because I laugh very easily. I laugh too much. It keeps it fun, but the problem is that you sort of get the giggles and then Zack, for some reason, he and I just have this feedback loop. It starts to happen and it’s happened a few times where we just can’t stop laughing. I mean, he genuinely cracks me up. Zack just makes me laugh walking around, talking. And then his character is really funny. It’s such a perfect character for him. One of the best things about his character is that he doesn’t really get anything. He never catches onto it. Like a joke. So he always has a very innocent response to something. There’s this one exchange where I say something really sarcastic to him and he’s just delightfully oblivious and it just cracks me up.

So when you’re running back and forth to LA does that mean that you go weeks on end without a day off?

It means that the weeks where that’s happening — it’s a little bit of a mixed back. I mean, I’m doing a full week next week on “The Office” because the company is moving back to Los Angeles. But basically it just means that the two days that I’m there they’ve compressed all my work into those two days. Of course it depends on how much I’m in that particular episode anyway. If it’s a light episode for Andy, it may not be that bad.

And for more interviews from the set of “The Hangover”, just click on the links:

Bradley Cooper

Justin Bartha

Zach Galifianakis

and director Todd Phillips

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