VIDEO: Peter Keough interviews Ed Helms
If some prognosticators are right (or if you want to believe
the people at Warner Bros.),
the sneak, sleeper hit of the summer will be Todd Phillip's
("Old School") "The Hangover," a crude, lewd, vomit-spewed comedy about four
guys who go to Vegas for a bachelor party and wake up not remembering a damn
Yes, we've all been
through this, waking up with a missing tooth next to a smoldering armchair in a
trashed hotel room with a chicken, a baby and a tiger in the bathroom. Best to
pretend it never happened, except the groom is missing, and the three remaining
half-drunken, hungover louts have to figure what happened the night before from the tragic evidence that remains. It's
kind of like, "Dude, Where's the Groom?"
Playing one of the four debauchees is Ed Helms, whom fans of "The
Office" will recognize as the insufferable but oddly appealing Andy. Here he
plays Stu, who is less insufferable than Andy but still appealing, as well as uptight,
nerdy and gap-toothed -- none of which things he is in real life. [See the interview here in the video version.]
PK: So you're tired of people asking you about the tooth, I
EH: I'm sick and tired of talking about the goddamn tooth.
But, no, I'm happy to fill you in. It's pretty simple.
PK: I saw Letterman last night.
EH: Oh you did? So you know. [He lost the tooth as a
teenager and had it replaced by an implant which they removed for the movie]. That's
PK: I kind of pieced together the entire weekend, or night,
except for the chicken.
EH: Wait, have you, you saw the movie?
PK: I did, yeah.
EH. The chicken is the Great McGuffin of "The Hangover."
It's never explained. But, you know the only reason it's there is because...I
mean there is no rational explanation for it. Although Todd will tell you, Todd
Phillips the director, when I called him on the chicken I was like, "What's the
deal with the chicken?" He says that we stole the chicken to feed the tiger.
PK: That's what I thought.
EH: But I don't know where we got the chicken.
PK: It's either that or the baby. To feed the tiger, I mean.
EH: Right, right. But I just think that chickens are kind of
this symbol of chaos. You know what I mean? Like, it seems like whenever you're
in like, a South American market place, or like a crazy bus ride somewhere,
there's a chicken. And it just sort of represents chaos. So, in that hotel room
the next morning, you know, it's all about chaos, so I think you just have to
throw in a chicken.
PK: Well it's sort of Buñuel-esque, right?
EH: Buñuel? Oh, wow.
PK: They have a sheep coming in and there's no explanation,
at the end of "The Exterminating Angel."
It's kind of like that.
EH: Yeah, that's a great, there ya go. I'm on board with
PK: You've probably been asked, also, if you've ever had a
similar experience? But then you wouldn't remember, I guess.
Sorry, I'm just thinking of sheep. Sheep, in relation to the water hearing,
where he herded all the sheep in, in protest...yeah that was more premeditated.
PK: No that's good, good association.
EH: I'm sorry...
PK: Yes, have you ever had an experience that you remember,
obviously, similar to what's going on?
EH: In the movie?
EH: No, not even close.
PK: Not even close?
EH: I never...I mean, I went to college and I've definitely
had too much to drink on a few occasions. But I mean, the craziest thing I've
ever done is like, streaking in college or something, which is pretty mundane.
PK: That raises an interesting point. Do you think that
every comedy from now on that we're going to see is going to have a shot of a
naked man for comic effect?
EH: I sure hope so. I think it's damn funny. Although did
you see "Observe and Report"?
PK: I did, yes.
EH: Oh my God...
PK: That's a little too much, I think.
EH: Yeah but that was sort of the, the elegance of it, I
thought. It was just like -- the slow motion -- just here it is. I don't know,
that made me laugh really hard, but you know like anything it's just a sort of
trend where we are right now, and I'm sure it'll...
PK: But they said that about vomiting too, that a couple of
times there would be vomit takes and then it would go away. But you have like
four in this movie alone.
EH: Do I vomit?
PK: You do.
EH: I can't remember if the final cut has me...I mean there's
obviously the picture at the end of me vomiting as part of the montage at the
end, but I don't know...
PK: You haven't seen the finished cut?
EH: Well I keep seeing different cuts. Is the one -- I
vomited at the breakfast table?
EH: Yeah, yeah. Come on, how are you going to sell "Hangover"
PK: That's true.
EH: You gotta throw a vomit in there.
PK: Or at least the dry heaves, right?
EH: Right. I think there's a, if I'm not mistaken, there's a
dry heave and then a vomit.
PK: Yea, it's a build up...a slow build-up type thing.
EH: Right. John Krasinski and I on "The Office" said, "fake dry heave all day long." Cuz to me that is
the funniest physical comedy that has ever existed.
PK: The fake dry heave.
EH: Is dry heaving. It makes me laugh so hard, and Krasinski
is amazing at it. Um, actually Carell and Colbert have this really old bid on
"The Dana Carvey Show" where they were
writers together called "The Waiters..." it's something like "The Waiters Who
Were Nauseated By Food." So the whole bit is Carrell telling the dinner specials to customers, but
he's starting to dry heave while he's describing it, and Carell is behind him
just with a towel or whatever, and Carell starts like dry heaving behind him.
And so on "The Daily Show" I use to beg Colbert to do that for me because it
just made me laugh so hard. Then I got to work on "The Office," and Krasinski
was like, "You gotta see Carell. He does the funniest bit." And I was like,
"I've seen that!" And it is. I don't know why, it just makes me laugh.
PK: Do you miss working on "The Daily Show" and Colbert's
EH: You know, I miss all the people there, and I miss the
kind of culture of that show, because it really is a special place, and like
full of incredibly smart and fun people. But I don't miss the work, because
that job was so hard and so demanding, mostly because of the travel. Like, I
was on the road doing those field pieces...
PK: You were in Boston
EH: I was right here...I must've been in Boston five or six
times, I mean, yeah, I did well over 100 of those things, and I came to Boston a bunch of times. We actually
camped out here for the convention in '04. We had the whole show moved up here.
We did a week of shows out of BU.
PK: So you're familiar with the town?
EH: Yep, my sister lives here in Brookline. I love Boston. I grew up in the south, but I still
have a lot of affection for this town.
PK: The thing
about "The Daily Show," and it still is like, probably the most reliable news
source in America
right now...But I'm wondering, do you think that Obama is going to kill all
political comedy? Because you look at "Saturday Night Live," and, well, are we
gonna have eight years of Joe Biden jokes?
EH: No, I don't, and I'll tell you why. Because I don't
think "The Daily Show" was ever about a political position. It's about rooting
out hypocrisy, which, you know, no political party has a monopoly on hypocrisy.
It seems to be a prevalence across the board. You don't have to dig very deep
to find inconsistencies in any politician's positions, so I feel like that was
always the fun and the sort of core of the satire. It's not party specific,
so...I've seen some awesome "Daily Show" episodes since Obama took office, and I'm
really excited. I remember in '04, when Bush won again and people were like,
"You must be really excited that Bush won again, because he gives you so much
material." And, first of all, I was like, "so wait, you think that my desire to
create comedy trumps my desire for our nation to be run well?" So, it was
ridiculous for that reason. But also, like, it gets old, you know? I think we
all really wanted and relished the challenge of kind of making fun of some
liberal perspectives as well, and that's finally here.
PK: So does Fox News, right?
EH: Well Fox News is conservative though.
PK: I know, but they make fun of liberal positions. Even
when they're not funny.
EH: I don't know that they make fun of it. They just, yeah.
They did have that little comedy news show. They had to rip off of "The Daily
Show" for a little while, which was absolutely preposterous.
PK: Well this film you could say really doesn't have much of a
EH: This movie?
EH: No, God no, thank god. [laughter] Yeah, I mean if it
does I have no idea what it is.
PK: You have to dig deep.
EH: Yeah, you have to peel back some layers. If it does it's
operating at a level that I haven't even caught onto yet.
PK: Did you do research into all the great bachelor party movies
going back to "Bachelor Party" with Tom
Hanks in, it was like, '78?
EH: Nah, it wasn't that old. "Bachelor Party?" It was 80s.
PK: 80s? [It was 1984]
EH: Pretty sure it's 80s, because it was on HBO when I was a
kid. And I loved that movie. But here's the thing, like, those movies...that's
like the perfect movie to bring up, because that movie is called "Bachelor
Party" and it's about a Bachelor Party. And it all takes place over the course
of the night of the bachelor party. This movie is called "The Hangover," and it's
all about The Hangover. So it's the next day. You don't even see any of the
bachelor party. So in that respect, no amount of bachelor party research is
really relevant to this movie, because this is just all about the insane fall-out
from a night that nobody remembers and the audience didn't even see, so.
PK: It's kind of like Phillip K. Dick did a bachelor party
EH: Yes. Well Todd Phillips used to call this sort of the "Memento" comedy, but it's obviously not quite that
complicated. But, yeah, it's got a really fun narrative trick in it, which is
that the audience along with the main characters are trying to figure out what
PK: You do have the pictures at the end, the photos. Am I
giving away something by mentioning that there's a...
EH: Unless you say what's in those pictures, I think you're
fine, just because those pictures are so insane.
PK: You guys must've had fun in Vegas judging from a lot of
those pictures. [Some of which were cut out.]
EH: You know, I hate to disappoint, but every one of those
pictures was posed, you know.
EH: Every one of them, yeah. Even the stuff that looks like
crazy party stuff, it was like the end of a long shoot day and we're all just
sort of like, "ok, look crazy. look like you're having fun!" And we're like,
"Ok here we go." Eh. That was it.
PK: So you spent six weeks I guess making this movie in
Vegas and you never really...you never went to the casinos or you never had any
EH: We definitely went to the casinos and I think I lost
more money than I care to admit, but we were shooting fourteen hours a day. You
can't party, I mean you can't go out at night. The craziest stuff we did in
Vegas is the stuff that we set up to shoot in this movie.
[Publicist enters room; holds up two fingers]
PK: Two minutes? Really? Wow, I was just starting to get
warmed up to the meaty questions.
EH: It's time to dig deep. Let's get hard core.
Next: We dig deep. We get hard core.