Ed Helms, known for his comedic roles in NBC’s “The Office” and “The Hangover” movies, will soon be stepping out of his niche on Friday, March 16th, 2012 when “Jeff, Who Lives At Home” is released in theatres.
The movie follows Jeff (Jason Segel) as he leaves his home in his mother’s basement to run a simple chore.
Jeff unexpectedly runs into his brother Pat (Helms), and the day soon turns into a trial of tribulations and revelations as the two track Pat’s possible adulterous wife.
The mood of the film is far from what fans of both Segel and Helms are used to.
This movie kept with the tone of others directed by the Duplass brothers (Baghead) in that it mixes drama with the comedy, Helms said when Niner Times was able to speak with him over the phone about the upcoming release.
During the interview, Helms spoke about the on-set chemistry between him, Segel and Susan Sarandon (who plays their mother), his first experience with dramatic acting and the psychological dynamic of the goatee.
On the comedic chemistry between Helms, Segel and Sarandon
It’s kind of a funny – or curious movie, I should say in that it’s not – it might not be what you expect from Jason Segel and me. Obviously, we both come from a background of doing a lot of comedy and Susan Sarandon, obviously has done some great comedy work as well.
But, this movie kind of in keeping with the Duplass brothers’ tone, it sort of rides the line of – into drama a little bit.
So, we actually had a really good time improvising and (inaudible) together, but not necessarily fine the funniest jokes as much as sort of just find the most authentic way to do a scene.
So, I would say the chemistry was fantastic, like, we just had an amazing time working together. But, it wasn’t always about finding the laughs, it was just kind of a new challenge for me because it was about finding realism and authenticity.
I think that [he] kind of wants to do the right thing, he wants to be a good guy and I certainly share that.
This guy gets in his [own] way a lot and I certainly get in my way a lot as well.
I don’t think I’m quite as dysfunctional as this guy, at least I hope not, but I do share that kind of struggle to be a better person.
And then of course, we also look a lot alike and we have the same voice, but we have a very different fashion sense, to be clear.
On how he thinks audiences will respond to his dramatic role
I can only hope that this movie is well received. I’m insanely proud of it, I’d still call it a comedy. I think it very much lives in that world but it’s more… it’s kind of a more dysfunctional, honest look at dysfunctional people than most work I’ve done.
This movie doesn’t shy away from the kind of painful aspect of a dysfunctional life, whereas my character on The Office is arguably very dysfunctional, but you don’t really see the pain very often. It’s played for comedy.
This is a little bit more played for reality and I hope that it resonates. I think that Jason Segel just is a genius and we had so much fun working on this thing and I hope that it resonates for people.
So, it might be a little bit different than what people expect, but I hope in a good way, like, kind of a nice little – a nice treat, if you will, a little twist on the expectation.
The differences are when you work on a movie, it’s like this kind of summer camp feeling because everyone just comes together for this one event and you’re there for six weeks, eight weeks, whatever it is and it’s all kind of run and gun and there’s this sort of exciting energy to just get this one thing done.
On a television set, it’s sort of like going to school, but to a school that you enjoy because it’s regular, it’s all familiar people, it’s a regular schedule. It’s something that has been an ongoing process, year after year. So, it has a very comfortable feeling that way.
I really do love them both. I love the comfort and the fun and the just sort of familial vibe on The Office and I love the excitement of a movie.
On improvising in “Jeff”
[The Duplass brothers] wrote a fabulous script. Like, down to the word, it is a wonderful, compelling, hilarious and moving script. That said, they were the first ones to say, don’t say a word of this.
So, we improvised almost every line of that movie and it was really exciting because they just really love that collaboration and that’s kind of a rare thing in writers and directors.
And it was really exhilarating, I know for Jason and myself, to just sort of be handed a scene, we’d read through it and sort of understand what needs to happen in the scene; what it’s about, where it takes us and where it goes and then to just do it over and over and over again and keep finding new and different versions of it and new ways to express the same things.
And you just find these really kind of authentic moments and it feels real when you’re doing it; I can’t explain it, it was just really exciting.
I’m sort of stunned by the result. I think Mark and Jay got something out of me that I didn’t necessarily know was in there as a performer.
Pat is someone who is very desperate to portray himself as someone who really has his sh*t together, but who doesn’t really have his sh*t together at all. And it’s that sort of chasm between what he wants to be and how he wants to present himself and what he really is that kind of defines this guy.
And I think we all know this guy and sometimes we are this person at various times in our lives. I really related to Pat because he wants so desperately to be the better version of himself. And I think also something that characterizes Pat, it’s not just being a better person, being like a really cool dude. That is important to Pat.
Walking around New Orleans with a goatee actually you fit in a lot better. So, I felt like kind of – like, on set I felt like the needy character of Pat, but walking around New Orleans, I felt like this sort of cool jazz cat.