Ed Helms Stands Up for 'Dueling Banjos' and a Steve-Less 'Office'
By Nicki Gostin Posted Feb 15th 2011 03:01PM
Ed Helms is on quite a roll. He's got his day job on 'The Office' as an uptight, rage-suppressing paper salesman. He was part of the smash hit 'The Hangover' (the sequel has finished filming). And now he's starring in 'Cedar Rapids' as a sweet, slightly naïve insurance salesman who learns about life at an Iowa convention. He spoke to PopEater about the new film and how the 'Office' cast can't wait to get rid of that Steve Carell guy. More importantly, the banjo enthusiast goes to bat for 'Dueling Banjos' as more than just that song inextricably tied to 'Deliverance' and its hillbilly-on-man rape scene.
Is 'Cedar Rapids' 'The Hangover' for the insurance agent crowd?
(Laughs) Um, no. I don't think it's comparable. 'The Hangover' at its core is a big mystery caper, and this is a very small story about a fish out of water, a man coming of age late in his life.
Would you say he's a loser or is that mean?
I think that's being mean. If you're going with a conventional pop culture definition of loser, by all means Tim is a loser. He's naïve, he's inexperienced, he hasn't seen much of the world, but by the more sort of existential priority measurements, he's about as good as a guy as you can find. He's got moral integrity and good will to spare.
Why do you think you get cast as these nice guys, sad sackish characters?
I don't know! I'm certainly drawn to those characters because I find them kind of heartbreaking and hilarious.
I think it's because you play vulnerable really well.
Thank you, that's a huge compliment. I really appreciate that, and I find vulnerability the most exciting thing in a character especially in a broad comedy.
Do you find in your personal life that vulnerability works with the ladies?
My girlfriend seems to like it.
Do you cuddle up in front of the fireplace listening to Celine Dion while stroking a puppy?
No, not so much. It's kind of funny you have to ride the line between manliness and vulnerability, and I think most guys, including me, are struggling to find that balance.
Ed Helms With the Turkey Creek Ramblers
'Dueling Banjos' Scene, 'Deliverance'
I have. Steve and I have played a number of times, and it's an absolute thrill every time.
Do you think the banjo has been unfairly maligned because of the movie 'Deliverance'?
If I can be serious for a second. That's a decisive issue in the banjo community. It's obviously inextricably linked the banjo with man-on-man rape, but it's also one of the greatest bluegrass soundtracks in music history, and it did more to elevate bluegrass music in popular culture than anything else up to that point. It's a double edged sword but I think the music speaks for itself. It's something, when you get hooked on it, you can't get enough of it.
Were you blown away by the success of 'The Hangover'?
Blown away doesn't even begin to describe our reaction to the success of the first one. When we were making it, we all knew we were making something we liked and that we were proud of, but the response was absolutely insane, completely overwhelming and frankly baffling.
It's a funny movie! Why is that baffling?
I mean I just don't know that you can explain something like that. It just kind of hit at the right moment. I don't mean to undersell it, I'm enormously proud of it.
Were you happy that Mel Gibson was thrown off?
Well that's over and done, so let's not even go there.
I love when you sing on 'The Office' and you close your eyes and gesture with your hands.
Thank you. I think there's a great R&B tradition of really embellishing and indulging, and I actually love that music, but I also find it kind of hilarious, it's a little over the top.
So, you're coming back to Scranton next season, right?
I'm definitely on board for next year as is the whole cast except for Steve, and we'll see what happens.
Are you worried a little bit?
Are you kidding? That guy's been dragging our show down for seven years now. We finally get to take off and soar like an eagle without that crazy anchor dragging us down. I mean look, we have such an amazing cast. We're going to miss the hell out of Steve not just because he's so hilarious but also because he's so awesome as a guy. But everyone's excited. I mean how often does a show at this stage of its lifespan, how often does it get to completely reinvent itself like this? So everyone's up for the challenge and pretty damn excited about it.
'Cedar Rapids' is in theaters now. Get times and tickets at Moviefone.com. Watch the trailer:
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