Ed Helms usually makes his mark in supporting roles (“The Office,” The Hangover”), but in “Cedar Rapids,” opening tomorrow, he finally takes the spotlight as a naïve, wide-eyed insurance salesman who sheds his inhibitions during a hotel convention.
amNewYork spoke with Helms, 37, at Sundance, where the film premiered.
You’ve played a lot of inhibited characters. What interests you about that personality trait?
I love characters who are intrinsically good but make awful choices and stumble along the way, always in the hopes that they’re doing the right thing in the big picture.
Is this your first sex scene?
I think it is, yeah.
Did doing it with 61-year-old Sigourney Weaver make a difference?
Absolutely. Because she was so coolheaded and professional and matter-of-fact about the whole thing, I didn’t have time to be anxious or nervous.
You were maybe five when “Alien” came out, right?
Yeah. I was a little older when “Aliens,” the sequel, came out, but yeah — I’ve had a crush on [her character] Ripley for a long time.
There were many vulnerable moments, what with all the nudity. Yeah, right?
Somebody asked how funny is it that you guys are in your underwear a lot. But we never thought of it as a comedic thing. It was about trying to reduce these guys to a very vulnerable place — and to sit there in your underwear, you’re both literally and metaphorically naked.
It’s fun watching your character get so excited about a car rental and hotel.
When I worked on “The Daily Show,” I stayed in all kinds of hotels, from the crappiest fleabags to all these business hotels in small towns. … After four or five years of it, it sort of feels like a drag to check into yet another crappy hotel. So it’s really fun to see somebody get so much joy out of it.
You finished shooting “The Hangover 2” in Bangkok. Will we be seeing any lady boy encounters?
Let’s just say that the behavior that you saw in the first “Hangover” looks like Mother Teresa compared to some of the stuff that we get into.
What will you miss most about Steve Carell when he’s gone from “The Office”?
Steve has a wonderful scent. I think he uses Febreze as a cologne, and I’ll miss that wonderful whiff.