Interview: Chatting with The Office’s Ed Helms and Angela Kinsey (Part II of II)
If there are nicer people in the world than Ed Helms and Angela Kinsey, I sure haven’t been on a press call with them. The Office co-stars spent an hour chatting about bad relationships (Hello, Andy and Angela!) and a host of other topics.
They said so much cool stuff, it couldn’t possibly fit into a single Remote Access post. So I split it up into two parts. The first part came yesterday, and herewith is part II.
On Andy and Angela’s open hostility
In any group of couples, there’s always one like that, said Kinsey, referencing SNL‘s The Bickersons sketch. Helms said the definition of a working relationship differs for everyone.
“I think what works for one might be horrifying to another,” he said. “What Andy and Angela have is largely horrifying, but in some ways who they are dovetails perfectly.”
There’s a bit of a feedback loop between Andy being so accomodating and Angela being so demanding. It isn’t healthy, he said, but it works at least as far as it keeps them together. Also, we’ve all had relationships with different people who bring out different sides of ourselves, Kinsey added.
“Sometimes you’re with someone and you’re like, what am I doing?” she said. “I think Andy and Angela have a lot of that.”
Andy’s parents might be the only people who know them who don’t question their relationship, Helms said.
On cracking each other up
Kinsey, Helms and Rainn Wilson forced the cameras to take a break while they composed themselves recently. It started with her, then Wilson. When they got it together, Helms lost it.
In the season premiere, the scene at Angela’s desk when Andy calls her Angela-ella-ella, Oscar Nunez — who never breaks — nearly fell apart and that made Helms lose it.
“And it’s so frustrating because sometimes it’s like your favorite take,” he said. “It’s the take that’s going the best and that’s the funniest that makes you lose it.”
On keeping things fresh
Kinsey credits the writers for consistently surprising her with the way they come up with unexpected storylines and new directions.
“I have to say we all love our own show, we’re dorks for our own show and we so enjoy it that it’s very easy for me to keep my enthusiasm up because it’s the most amazing thing that I’ve been a part of,” she said. “And we still have a giddiness and a real sense of fun even five years into it.”
Helms agreed.Â He feels like Andy has constantly evolved in his two-plus seasons on the show. What also keeps things fresh, he said, is the dialogue between actors and each episode’s writer.
“So we’ll be shooting a scene, and I’ll be like, ‘You know what? I’m not sure Andy would say it this way,'” he said. ‘I’m not sure Andy would really feel this way in this particular scene.'”
That’ll lead to an analytical discussion, because the episode writer is always on set. Producer Paul Feig plays a big role in fostering such discussions and maintaining the show’s consistency, Helms said. Just such a discussion Helms had recently with writer Jen Celotta drew in Feig and Executive Producer/writer Paul Lieberstein.
“And then as we kind of got to a conclusion I remember saying, ‘God, I love these conversations,'” Helms said.
The environment is collaborative, and the writers care that what happens makes sense to the actors, he said. Kinsey said other actors on other shows tell her that’s a very unique thing.
On the show’s widening appeal
Kinsey figures people spend more time with co-workers than family, which makes The Office relatable for people. Still, she’s blown away by the show’s wide spectrum of fans.
“My cousin is 10-years-old and is the biggest fan for our show, can quote Dwight monologues,” she said. “And she’s 10! She’s never worked in an office.”
Helms said one of the show’s editors, Dave Rogers, is also a surprisingly big fan.
“He sits there and edits these episodes all day long and he still comes up to us and like quotes our lines,” he said. “He’s like our biggest fan, and he sees more Office than anyone in the world.”
Helms said the show is based on such a simple concept. Creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant tapped into something that has an international relatability and just an elegant simplicity, he said. (Merchant, by the way, directed last night’s “Customer Survey”. “I dorked out on him,” Kinsey admits.)
On the pitfalls The Office has avoided
The show has many relationships, but it is also about an office, Kinsey said. There’s always something mundane to pull the plot back from the relationships.
“I also think all of our characters exist individually without the relationship,” she said. “Dwight is so defined, and my character is so defined. Andy and Michael. So whether they’re in a relationship, they’re still interesting. So that for me has been a real gift.”
The one successful TV relationship she draws on is that of MASH’s Frank Byrnes and Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan with their secret relationship and militant, judgmental demeanors.
Helms agreed the writers have balanced the melodrama and comedy well. He said you’ll never see “A Very Special Office,” even if, as Kinsey points out, the NBC promo department hasn’t got that memo.
“I think even when there are those moments, Michael has still figured out how to make a fart noise come out of Phyllis’s chair,” she said. “There’s always some real sense of playfulness.”
On real life examples of Office life
Kinsey had one job where they offered extra pay if you came in on the weekend and helped decorate for the big Christmas party. The woman in charge also ran reception, the mailroom and was responsible for keeping the kitchens clean.
Kinsey, short on cash, signed up to help and was assigned to tie large bows to a railing.
“I’m not great with bows, OK?” she recalled. “And she actually came behind me and she was like, ‘You’re doing these bows all wrong!’ And it was like the end of the world.”
Kinsey found herself reassigned to cleaning out a refrigerator.
On what’s wrong with Andy
He’s just too nice, says Kinsey. She wants someone she can butt heads with.
“I think she truly has a love-hate relationship with Dwight, and with Andy she has a like-like relationship,” she reasons. “There’s something about that love-hate that’s really appealing to her.”
Andy is blinded by his own passion, meanwhile, says Helms.
“There’s so many things that he doesn’t notice about Angela,” he said. “The lack of her passion is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Just deciding to commit and make it work is an admirable thing in him, Helms said. He may not have had enough information when he made that decision, but he’s following through on that.