Interview: Chatting with The Office’s Ed Helms and Angela Kinsey (Part I of II)
There’s a new episode ofÂ The Office on tonight. But before you dig in to that, Ed Helms and Angela Kinsey spent the better part of anÂ hour today chatting with reporters and bloggers about their on-screen relationship, inflatable gremlin dolls, Angela’s troubled youth and nostalgia for the fake news.
Here’s part one of what they had to say, with part two to follow soon.
On approaching their at-times unlikeable characters
A lot of characters in comedy are unlikeable, Helms said, and that’s what gives viewers license to laugh at them.
“I’ve tried to find a lot to love about Andy and a real sort of sincerity, he said. “If anything he’s guilty of caring too much sometimes.
He likes giving the audience something to hope for with Andy but also lot to just roll their eyes at and laugh at.
Kinsey has had jobs that were mundane and forced her to work with people she wouldn’t otherwise like to hang out with. There was always the stickler or the busybody, she said, the person who went berzerk with the smallest amount of authority. But even with all that she tries to find the upside in Angela Martin.
“I try to find in my own way, the way Ed does, a way to like her even with all her craziness,” Kinsey said. “She’d probably drive you crazy, but she’d probably completely organize your desk for you if you let her.”
The funny thing for Helms is trying to justify Andy’s love for Angela.
“My dad asked me recently, ‘Why are you with that woman?'” he said. “It’s a very valid question.”
But Andy has an unflappable optimism and a decisiveness about things. He puts his whole heart into his decisions like his commitment to Angela.
On getting grief from fans for being Angela
The show has such diehards fans who appreciate the characters and have seen enough of them outside of work that they don’t confuse the actors with the characters, Kinsey said.
“I had this woman come up to me and say, ‘Will you take a picture with my friend?’ She was too scared to approach you because she was afraid you might be like your character,” she said.
On missing the fake news business
He doesn’t miss it much at all, Helms said.
“I loved being in the fake news business, but it was so taxing to do those interviews,” he said. I have great memories from the ’04 campaign coverage, but it’s really, really hard, really hard work and it’s really hard on your constitution. So I loved it but I don’t yearn for it.”
What he misses is the feeling of being close to the heart of the action, at the conventions, talking to the key players. He admits to feeling pangs of nostalgia but not real regret.
Helms admits that with his last job on The Daily Show people were more likely to confuse him with his on-screen personality, which was kind of a heightened, jerkish version of himself.
“I think there is a blurry line sometimes between perception,” he said. “Even though you give an audience full credit for knowing the difference, there’s just something kind of visceral that kicks in when you see someone and you have all these associations with them.”
On their own office romances
“I have not had a workplace romance,” Kinsey said. “I was asked out at one of my corporate jobs by a coworker. And I went, and it was awkward. And then I had to work with that person every single day, and I definitely didn’t reciprocate. I was like, oh we’ll just go out. It’ll be friends. Friends, co-worker friends, yay! And then it was like, Oh he wants to smooch me. Aaaaaah. Then I had to go and see him every day at work, so that was somewhat awkward.”
Helms recalled working for a very small firm out of school where there were four employees, and he and the bookkeeper tried to hide their relationship from the guys who ran the company. But they completely knew.
“They were like, guys, we know what’s going on,” he said.
On playing the office minx
“What’s going on with my character?” she said. “She’s crazy like I don’t know”
It’s fun to play, though, like a buffet of choices to pick from. Her dad, on the other hand, is being put through the wringer watching his daughter be kind of the office skank. But, she adds, it’s fun to play.
On playing the guy being cuckolded by the office minx
Helms has found much to love about Andy and has put much of himself into him. Things he’s ashamed of or insecure about he blows out of poproportion in Andy.
“I love the dynamic. I love his passion for Angela. As Andy has grown in the world of The Office and all the characters have grown it just gets more complicated, which is so much more fun as a performer.”
Kinsey agreed, admitting she puts herself into the character so much she once organized all her wrapping paper, ribbons and tissue paper at home.
“That sort of freaks people out when they see my wrapping paper section of my closet,” she said.
On the pros and cons of Angela’s choices
“There’s a part of Angela Martin that kind of wants to do what society would think would be appropriate and I think Andy seems verysort of appropriate. She could bring Andy to chruch and I don’t think she coudl bring Dwight to chruch. He might show up with squirrel pelts or soemthing to give people.”
She’s torn between the person she thinks she belongs with and the person she’s passionate about, Kinsey theorizes. What’s more, Andy is so accommodating while she clashes with Dwight, which maybe exhilarates her.
“It’s the Madonna whore thing in reverse for Andy and Dwight,” Helms chimed in.
On Andy’s favorite co-worker
Helms admits Andy has a bit of a bro-crush on Jim and thats’ why he sometimes imitates him but also asserts himself as his own man. He wants to impress Jim.
“All Andy wants is for Jim to take him under his wing.”
But beneath it all there’s a shrewd part that wants the same from Michael. Call that a corporate crush.
On where they’d take the relationship
What’s set to unfold in coming weeks is amazing, Kinsey said. Dodging the question but apologetic about it, Helms said they share in the fans’ anticipation of what’s to come. Their trust and admiration for the writers is such that they don’t like to look too far ahead.
Gun to his head, though, he’d like to see Andy at NASA, where he’d take Angela into outer space, as a space wife.
Angela said the question leaves her at a loss for words because anything she might think of is improved upon tenfold by the writers. She often leaves the table reads in awe. Helms agreed.
“I feel like the table reads for us are just like the episodes for fans,” he said. ” It really has the same anticipation, the energy. And I’ll say this about the way Angela and Andy, the way our story develops over the next few episodes, I would not change a thing. I’m so excited about it.”
On favorite episodes
“Going back a few seasons, I just really loved punching a hole in that wall. When Andy’s world just crumbles around him, all of his very shrewd efforts to suck up to everyone just suddenly implode and the Rockin’ Robin music is no longer enjoyable, it’s this deathknell. It’s this full-on meltdown. There’s nothing more fun as an actor than to just completely melt down.”
Kinsey agrees. She likes the Christmas episodes the best because they let her do just that.
How does Angela sleep at night?
Kinsey figures she tosses and turns quite a bit, but she definitely wouldn’t share that with the documentary crew. Helms has another theory.
“I think Angela’s childhood was probably pretty disturbing,” he said. “So you’ve found a lot of coping mechanisms, so you’re able to sleep through a hell of a lot.”
Kinsey said Jen Celotta put it well when she said Angela is in a very typical situation where she has blinders on about the way her choices have snowballed on her.
“That made sense to me, and I think that’s kind of how she is,” Kinsey said. “I think she’s got these blinders on. It’s all going to work out, and I don’t have to pick or decide or choose, and it’s all going to be fine.”
She concedes the possibility that Angela had a disturbing upbringing, though.
On what prepared him to be Andy
“Let me start by saying I pride myself on the lack of dignity that I have,” Helms said. “It’s one of my greatest strengths. It’s my lack of dignity.”
It goes backÂ to his stand-up years in New York and his time with Upright Citizens Brigade doing improv. You aren’t so much fearless as you embrace the fear. It’s exhilarating. On The Daily Show he was terrified all the time, not fearless at all. And he loves to break into song in real life.
“There’s nothing funnier to me than a really inappropriately timed Broadway number,” he said.
On Angela’s payback plans for Phyllis
Oh yes. Not that the writers have confirmed as much, but Kinsey figures payback is in the works.
“”I wouldn’t be surprised if Angela Martin has a file on her minutes of everyone’s behavior that she can use at some point,” she said.
“You’re right,” Helms said. “She’s like the J. Edgar Hoover of The Office.”
On what Andy will do when he finds out
Helms likes to think that Andy’s anger management issues are still there, that no one really gets past that but theyÂ learn to cope.
“You can buy a little inflatable gremlin or something, and it’s like, ‘You can beat this up and take your anger out on this thing,'” he said. “So Andy has one of these at home. But for some reason I like the idea that Andy beats up this little inflatable doll so much that he flings it around his room and he’s actually damaging it.”
Any new nicknames
Helms said he was recently reminded that Andy called Ryan Big Turkey in one episode. Apparently, BJ Ryan brought in a turkey sandwich for lunch.
“I’m actually a big nicknamer in real life, so there’s always something brewing,” he said.
Check back for part II of this interview.