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The Hot Seat: Ed Helms

He's hungover on life.

Illustration: Rob Kelly

After making his name in the fake-news game on The Daily Show, comedian Ed Helms went on to push NBC's The Office firmly out of its British forebear's shadow with his unforgettable portrayal of the opportunistic yet lovable choad, Andy Bernard. In his new film, The Hangover, Helms, 35, teams up with Old School director Todd Phillips in a tale of Vegas dissipation that requires more than the hair of the dog to get over. (Maybe the hair of the tiger?) We talked to Helms at 1pm, a time that we erroneously assumed was the earliest he could possibly rouse himself from a typically rough night.

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You're hungover right now, aren't you?
No. I'm not, actually. I don't get hungover very often. I actually don't drink very often.

I heard that your costar Bradley Cooper doesn't drink either. Seems outrageous, having a bunch of teetotalers in a movie called The Hangover.
I'm not sure I would call us a "bunch of teetotalers," but yes, we are responsible adults who take our jobs seriously.

Of course you are. Was that dental self-surgery real?
The lack of a tooth is absolutely real. I have an implant that my dentist was able to take the crown off of and extract the post from the implant and put in a temporary piece that looks like gum tissue. And there you go.

It recalls that story of Brad Pitt chipping his tooth in Fight Club and deciding to keep his marred smile. You're the new Brad Pitt!
[Laughs] Yes, I am exactly like Brad Pitt in every way. I think that's totally fair to say.

Were any teeth lost when Mike Tyson punched one of your bearded costars?
That was totally amazing, and Zach [Galifianakis] was so funny that day, because I think Tyson's fist was literally grazing Zach's beard during some of those takes. And the other funny thing was that Todd Phillips was giving Tyson direction on how to punch. You know, to make it look right. And Tyson was so funny, he goes, "What is this, the captain of the Jewish debate squad trying to teach me how to punch?" Tyson has a...surprising sense of humor.

Watch what you say about Iron Mike's jokes. Growing up, the running hypothetical was always, "Would you take a million dollars to let Tyson punch you in the face?" Would you?
Well, that punch in the film was not real, just so you know. But I think the answer to that would have to be no. I would not take a million dollars.

He's still got it.
He's just so powerful.

That baby's unfortunate mime-hand-job scene with Zach G. is going to result in years of therapy.
Well, we also had a fake baby for long shots or stuff in the car, and Zach was doing that with the mannequin baby, and Todd was like, "That's going in the movie." And everyone else was like, "No way, you can't do that with a real baby." And Todd goes over and asks the parents if we could do that. And they were okay with it.

I'd never let that guy near my yet-to-be-conceived child.
Yeah, I think better safe than sorry.

I understand that you're involved in a Civil War time-travel movie.
We're actually right in the middle of it. My writing partner and I are trying to get it churned out. It's sort of a Back to the Future--style comedy about Civil War reenactors who get thrown into the real Civil War and have quite the rude awakening. What you realize after doing all this research is that so many personalities in the Civil War were so petty and bombastic and ego-driven. A lot of these people were just unbelievable characters in their own right, so it's not hard to stretch it into comedy territory. Just look at their facial hair.

Do you think we, as a people, have kind of lost our ability to grow really impressive beards?
Well, Zach is a pretty compelling argument against that. I get lost in that beard. It's just magnificent. I, on the other hand, am not capable of anything even approaching that. Mine just doesn't have the thickness. It's a little wispy. I feel like it really compromises my manliness, but what are you gonna do?

The Hangover opens June 5.

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