|Ed Helms and Angela Kinsey star in “The Office” on NBC|
In the five seasons the smash hit American version of “The Office” has been on the air, several inter-office romances have taken place, but none has been more interesting to fans than the three-way love triangle between Angela, Andy and Dwight. It started with Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and Angela’s secret relationship, which ended prematurely when Dwight euthanized Angela’s cat (he claimed it was a mercy-kill). That caused their break-up and Angela’s subsequent relationship with Andy, who, much to Dwight’s displeasure, proposed to Angela in last season’s finale.
However, unbeknownst to Andy, Angela and Dwight have rekindled their secret love affair. Dwight even went as far as to trick Angela into marring him during a rehearsal for Angela and Andy’s own big day. Last week’s episode of “The Office” saw vindictive co-worker Phyllis reveal to the entire office the secret of Angela and Dwight’s affair — while Andy was out of the room. Fans are still waiting to see if Andy will ever find out the truth, and of course, just who Angela will ultimately decide to wed.
CBR News had an opportunity to talk to Andy and Angela themselves, actors Ed Helms and Angela Kinsey, about their hit sitcom, their characters’ strange romance, and how they are able to keep a straight face on the set.
CBR: Your show has a huge fanbase and even hosted its own panel at Comic-Con International this year. To what do you attribute your wide range of fans?
Angela Kinsey: Well, I think a lot of us in America spend more time with the people we work with then even our own families. You sort of have this forced family where you go to work and that definitely makes it relatable because everyone sort of works with an Angela or knows a Dwight, or an Andy. That’s a lot of fun to see every week. I have to say sometimes I am blown away by the different spectrum of our fans. Like, my cousin is ten-years-old and is the biggest fan of our show; she knows and can quote Dwight monologues and she’s ten. She’s never worked in an office. So that is always surprising to me, but a lot of fun.
|Angela Kinsey stars as Angela Martin|
Ed Helms: You know who cracks me up and is one of the biggest fans of our show? One of our editors, Dave Rogers. He sits there and edits these episodes all day long and still comes up to us and quotes our stuff. He is, like, our biggest fan and he sees more of “The Office” than anyone in the world.
I think “The Office” is such a simple show and it’s such a simple concept. Getting into the origins of this show, obviously [creators] Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant tapped into something that clearly has an international relatability. You know, it’s just called “The Office” and that’s all it is, it’s just an office. The architecture of the show is so simple that I think people can really latch on quickly and easily. But I think it’s just the simplicity of it. I mean, not to blow too much smoke up our own butts here, but there is a bit of elegance to the simplicity of it.
From where do you draw the inspiration for your characters? Are they based on real people that you know or have worked with before?
Helms: I think it’s funny because like a lot of characters in comedy that would be atrocious in real life — it’s the bubble of television, a movie or whatever, that gives you a license to laugh at it. For me, with Andy, I think I’ve tried to find a lot to love about him and a real sort of sincerity. If anything, he’s guilty of caring too much sometimes. I think it’s partly that we have the ability to laugh at jerks on TV, but also playing the dichotomy, playing both the positive, the negative and hopefully trying to give the audience something to hope for with Andy. But also leaving a lot to just kind of roll your eyes at, at the same time.
|Ed Helms stars as Andy Bernard|
Kinsey: Well, I actually had a few odd jobs in the corporate world as a struggling actress. I worked in customer service. I worked in the mailroom. I was an operator at 1-800-DENTIST and I had a bunch of ridiculous meetings I’d have to go to. And I’ve had to work with people who I probably would never have hung out with socially. I found a little bit of my character in these different companies I worked at. In every job there was always someone who was sort of the stickler or the busybody or the person who just had this little amount of authority and went berserk with it.
So I try to make [Angela] feel real and she’s definitely prickly. But I try to find my own way, the way Ed does, to like her even with all her craziness. Yes she’d probably drive you crazy but she’d probably completely organize your desk for you if you let her. So I try to find the hills and valleys in her. But it’s definitely a lot of fun and I definitely draw on my past experience in corporate America.
Helms: You know what’s funny is I have the hard part. I have to justify Andy’s affection for Angela. Like my dad asked me recently, “Why are you with that woman?” And it’s a very valid question. But actually, I do think that Andy just has this unflappable optimism. If there’s one thing that’s really great about Andy it’s that he’s so decisive and he just goes with something. Once he decides it’s what he wants, he’s just in it and he throws his whole heart into it. I think that’s just what’s happened in this relationship with Angela. It’s like this is the decision I’ve made, this is my life partner and this is going to work god dammit.
Andy and Angela are engaged, yet often they’re openly hostile towards each other. How do you characterize their unusual relationship?
Kinsey:I think that if you are part of a huge group of couples, there’s usually always one. I think that’s why I love that “SNL” sketch, the Bickersons, because there’s always one and I’ve definitely been there too.
|Andy and Angela are in constant conflict with Dwight|
Helms: I think that the definition of a working relationship is different for everyone and what may work for one couple is horrifying to another couple. And I think that what Andy and Angela have is largely horrifying. But it is real in some ways. Who they are dovetails perfectly. Who each person is fits. They fit together because Angela can be so demanding and Andy can be so accommodating. It’s not healthy, but it works. And by works, I just mean it keeps them together.
Ed, what do you think Andy will do if and when he finds out about Dwight and Angela’s secret affair? Will his anger management training still hold or do you think he’ll go postal?
Helms: Let’s see, I feel like this is a dangerous area for me to get into. But in broad terms, I’d like to think that Andy’s anger issues are still very much there. I’m not sure anyone who has a real problem with that ever fully gets past it. But he’s really learned a lot of coping mechanisms and he has an image in his head. You know those little inflatable gremlins or something and you can beat them up and take your anger out on this thing? So Andy has one of those at home. For some reason I like the idea that Andy beats up this little inflatable doll so much that he swings it around his room and he’s actually damaging things around his house. But it’s not really working because he’s still damaging things around him. But yeah, there may be a little punching bag, metaphorical punching bag or literal, I don’t know, in his garage that allows him to kind of stay a little more centered and adhere to social norms a little bit better.
Is Andy working on any new annoying nicknames?
Helms: You know, it’s funny, I forgot this but someone recently reminded me that, and this was just in improvisation during a shoot, I had called BJ Novak’s character, Ryan, Big Turkey one day. This was because Big Tuna came from Jim bringing in a tuna sandwich. So the theory being, one day BJ brought in a turkey sandwich and he’s Big Turkey now. But I actually am quite a nick-namer in real life, too. So there’s always something brewing.
|Angela Kinsey and Ed Helms|
Did you miss your old job at “The Daily Show” at all during this historical Presidential race that we just had?
Helms: I don’t miss that really much at all. I feel so lucky to be a part of “The Office” and it’s so fun, so consistently. I loved being in the fake news business but it was so taxing to do those interviews. I do have great memories from the 2004 campaign coverage. But it’s really, really hard work. And it’s very hard on your constitution. So I loved it, but I don’t yearn for it. The thing that I miss is just that feeling of being very close to the heart of it, which was really exciting. You know, we attended the conventions and we spoke to a lot of people who were right in the middle of it which was really exciting. Especially in such an historic election as we had this year, there were definitely pangs of maybe a little bit of nostalgia perhaps, but not a real yearn for it.
I’ll tell you what’s funny. I had more trouble with people thinking that I was my character when I was on the “The Daily Show” than I have on “The Office.” I think because I played a sort of heightened, jerk-ish version of myself on “The Daily show.” My friend was like, “Yeah, I was just talking to a buddy and he was like, oh you’re friends with Ed Helms? That guy seems like kind of a jerk.” And I remember getting really despondent about it. I was like, wait a minute, and don’t people realize that we’re different characters on that show? I think there is a blurry line sometimes between perception even when you give an audience full credit for knowing the difference, there’s just something kind of visceral that kicks in when you see somebody and you have all these associations with them.
One would imagine you and your castmates are constantly cracking each other up on set. Do you have any favorite memories of not being able to keep a straight face and blowing a take?
Helms: There are so many.
Kinsey:We just had one.
|“The Office” seasons 1-4 available on DVD|
Helms: What was the one that we had recently?
Kinsey:It was so bad. I mean, they had to stop rolling. It was actually Ed, Rainn and I. They literally gave us like a five-minute break to try and collect ourselves. What was hilarious was I think I went first and then Rainn got tickled. Then Rainn and I finally got it together and Ed lost it. It was so funny.
Helms: Oh, I remember one time that was from the season premiere this year when I come up to your desk and I go, “Hey Ang.” Then you shoot me a dirty look and I say, “hola a la, a la…”
Kinsey:“Under my Angerella…”
Helms: “Under my Angerella…” And Oscar (Nunez) was sitting next to us, you know, Oscar’s desk is right there. Oscar never breaks. He never ever breaks. It’s sort of like this running bet. He’ll give anyone $100 if he breaks. I was doing the Angela thing and I made eye contact with Oscar. He didn’t break, but he had this twinkle in his eye. It was like I was about to break him and it made me lose it. It’s so frustrating because sometimes it’s your favorite take. It’s like the take that’s going the best and that’s the funniest is always the one that makes you lose it.
“The Office” airs Thursdays at 9PM and on NBC.
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