You know how sometimes I say SPOILER ALERT, and you just kinda keep reading anyway, assuming it won’t be that big. This is a “that big” SPOILER ALERT. If you don’t want to know who the new manager of The Office’s Scranton branch is, STOP READING. NOW.
Andy Bernard was only just this second announced as Michael Scott’s successor, and boom! TVLine already has an exclusive interview with Ed Helms. When did he find out he had the coveted gig? How did he find out? What does this mean for Andy’s relationship with Erin? What does he think of the show’s other new authority figure, James Spader? Why am I asking these questions this way? Let me put them to the actor himself, and then I can put some answers after the questions. Brilliant!
TVLINE | Congratulations!
Thank you very much. It’s kind of an exciting night.
TVLINE | When and how did you find out that Andy was the new boss?
It was probably about three or four weeks before production [on the new season] started. I had lunch with [showrunner and costar] Paul Lieberstein, and he’s a marvelously cryptic guy. So it was a little bit of a dance at first and then it came out that that’s the direction they were planning. And I was so excited that I wet my pants. [Laughs] That’s not totally true, but it was exciting. In some ways it felt like just another lunch meeting, but with epic news. And then we had a nice little toast.
TVLINE | Do you feel any pressure?
I feel more excitement than pressure. The character of Andy is a jackass, and that’s a role I’ve been preparing for my entire life. [Laughs] So I feel prepared. It feels like a reboot for the show, with this boss change and also James Spader coming into the mix. There’s a real different energy afoot… I’m trying to make it sound like I don’t feel the pressure but I guess I am trembling on my way to work every day. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Have your work hours increased?
Yes. The workload is dramatically more than I’ve ever dealt with on this show before. I see Steve Carell in a whole new light. We all took it for granted just how professional and prepared and hilarious he was. And now being in a position where I need to learn a hell of a lot more lines and run more scenes, I mean God, I just really appreciate what he did. And I’m trying to step into those shoes.
TVLINE | Rumor has it the boss position came down to you, Rainn Wilson and John Krasinski. Was there – is there — any weirdness between you guys?
This could not be a cooler cast. And the fact that it was kept a mystery for a while kind of allowed all of us to come to terms with whatever the result might be. I’ve gotten nothing but just epic support from those guys, and the entire cast as a whole. They are some of the funniest and sweetest people I could ever hope to work with. And to feel their support just means the world. And it’s the only reason that I feel capable of stepping into this role. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve been doing already. The vibe on the set has been so great. Of course we miss Steve, but there’s this new energy. It’s like when you reboot your computer and you have all this fun new software to play with. And we’re all sort of sharing that energy.
TVLINE | What kind of boss is Andy?
Great question. Andy is a boss who is terrified of being a boss. He is making an overt attempt to step up his game. And just as me the actor, Ed Helms, is feeling pressure and excitement about stepping into a larger role like this, Andy Bernard, the character, is also feeling a hell of a lot of pressure and anxiety. And that is a lot of fun to watch unfold — especially when juxtaposed with James Spader’s fabulous Robert California. Andy has always struggled with a little bit of anger. And he has some real perception gaps; there’s a giant chasm between how he sees himself and how others see him. In some ways, Michael Scott really believed he was a great manager. Andy’s not quite there yet.
TVLINE | How does Andy’s promotion impact his relationship with Erin?
Erin and Andy are basically two weirdoes who are attracted to each other, but incapable of understanding each other. Add to that a boss-employee dynamic and their awkwardness pretty much goes nuclear, especially around Halloween.
TVLINE | This season introduces Andy’s parents [played by Stephen Collins and Dee Wallace] and his brother [singer Josh Groban]. Are we to assume they come to town to celebrate his promotion?
Obviously, Andy has a musical background. And there are some fun revelations about where that came from. The reason for expanding Andy’s world and getting into his family is to kind of help the audience understand a little bit more about who he is and where he comes from. And you’ll see in his family a lot of reasons for Andy’s issues. I think I can also tease that there is a party situation in the episode, but I can’t go any further than that.
TVLINE | It’s safe to assume there’s going to be a duet with you and Josh.
[Laughs] I will neither confirm nor deny the rumors.
TVLINE | Contractually speaking, can we also assume that NBC has locked you in for a few more years of Office duty?
I don’t think anything is settled yet, but I hope we have a long and prosperous future at Dunder Mifflin. This cast has so many stories buried in it. I’m amazed by how fantastic everyone in the cast is. From Phyllis Smith to Creed Bratton and Kate Flannery – everyone down the line is batting a thousand this season. And the writers have really bit into this fresh new fruit. It’s a dream job.