When I meet Ed Helms, he is clean-shaven. Gone is the goatee he had for “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” the latest movie from the sibling filmmaking team of Mark and Jay Duplass.
I tell him that when I saw him in the film, which opens Friday, his goatee somehow reminded me of that “Star Trek” episode in which Mr. Spock sported one in a parallel evil universe.
“Maybe that’s an evil version of Ed Helms,” he muses.
Not likely. It’s hard to imagine an evil version of Helms running around. The star of NBC’s long-running sitcom “The Office” – a Georgia boy from a preppy background who plays the banjo – comes across as an all-around nice guy.
In the offbeat comedy “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” Helms plays Pat, the brother of the title character (Jason Segel). The two are polar opposites. Jeff – a fan of the film “Signs,” M. Night Shyamalan’s 2002 thriller – sits around smoking pot, living with his mom (Susan Sarandon) and looking for portents in his daily life. Pat, on the other hand, has just bought a new Porsche he can’t really afford and races through his life, oblivious to others, including his long-suffering wife.
Helms says about 40 pages into reading the script he was wondering why he kept going. “It’s a good story but I didn’t want to play this Pat character. He’s an ass.”
But the actor kept reading and by the end found it compelling.
“I don’t like evil characters,” admits the 38-year-old, who is also known for his role as the missing-tooth dentist Stu Price in the “Hangover” films. “You’re probably not going to see me as a child molester anytime soon. I have to find a way to really like the characters that I’m playing or sympathize with them.”
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