It’s the first “Office” memo from the new manager of Dunder Mifflin's Scranton branch!
Last week, fans of “The Office” learned that the manager’s position recently vacated by the moved-on Michael Scott (Steve Carell) had been officially filled by Andy Bernard, and PopcornBiz has got the inside word from the actor who plays him, Ed Helms. Helms – who, like Carell, already has a thriving sideline moonlighting as a movie star in hit films like “The Hangover” – shares scoops from upcoming episodes and reveals that he’s more than thrilled to take the show’s, ahem, helm.
On the slow buildup to the big reveal of the new manager, a well-kept secret which came as a surprise even to the audience – and, a little earlier, to Helms:
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“There was a long period of uncertainty. Steve announced that he was not going to be coming back to the show pretty early last year, and right away the question came up: ‘Well, what's going to happen next?’ And there just wasn't an answer for a long, long time – and that in some ways was a blessing. I think it gave us all time to just sort of Zen out about it and come to terms with whatever it might be. I would say I was anxious. I think we were all a little bit anxious to find out. But always confident that whatever the choice was it was going to be good creatively and that the writers would have made the decision with the future of the show in mind…I knew about three or four weeks before we started shooting. That's when the news sort of broke internally.”
On the differences in Michael Scott's and Andy Bernard’s managerial styles:
“I think that the biggest difference right out of the gate is that Michael was a well-established manager for much of his run at Dunder Mifflin, and that Andy is just finding that. It's a fresh new thing. But I also think Andy comes from a place of privilege and that informs his world view, and he's also prone to anger management issues. But what he always is trying to do at the end of the day, he's trying to do the right thing. And that's why he sort of stepped up in that first episode, but it's also he has so many personal hurdles and insecurities that it's a real struggle.”
On the new, more responsible Andy:
“Andy Bernard is in a lot of ways an opportunity for me to exercise some of my own demons of insecurity and social awkwardness. He is a heightened version of those aspects that I think I have and that most of us have to some extent. I struggle with confidence and like most people and it ebbs and flows. And I certainly relate to Andy's fear walking into a situation, but I do think I'm a little better equipped at handling it than Andy. But there's something really fun and cathartic about just playing it out in the most petty way imaginable. That's Andy's M.O. I think a lot of us are pettier than we will admit. We're better at governing our behavior, but sometimes our feelings and emotions are much pettier inside. Andy's just much more exposed, and that's therapeutic for me in a way.”
On the brewing rivalry now that Andy has edged out Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) for the top spot:
“Let's just say the checkered past carries over to a checkered present. And Dwight is someone who responds very well to a firm hand of leadership, which Andy is still sort of searching for a little bit. But I'm really excited that in that first episode we started to just see the very first inklings of a backbone in Andy.”
On the addition of James Spader as new Sabre-Dunder Mifflin CEO Robert California:
“James Spader has played a lot of very creepy and odd characters throughout his long and wonderful career. James Spader, the man, could not be more different from those guys: he's a wonderful sort of benevolent and cheerful guy. And so that is a fantastic energy to have on set. It's a kind of fun new energy for us all to respond to. Now his character Robert California, of course, is different than that. Robert California is a kind of aggressively confident person who seems to take a lot of pleasure in exerting his power, and that is a really crazy energy because it's so new to Dunder Mifflin. And it's not something that Andy Bernard is particularly well-equipped to deal with, and that is exactly why it is so fun.”
On that annually-anticipated Halloween episode:
“It's a really fun one to shoot just because the office is completely decorated to the hilt and I think we all get in that Halloween mindset. But as far as the story goes, I don't know what I can say other than the fact that there is definitely some tension brewing with Erin and Andy in there. And also her Halloween costume is just preposterously adorable this year. So it just makes it that much weirder.”
On guest star Josh Groban, who’ll play Andy’s brother:
“The choice of Josh is kind of a fun teaser because obviously he is musical and we all know that Andy has a certain penchant for music. And Josh's appearance is part of a really exciting episode for me and for Andy, because it's really where we learn a lot about Andy – and not all of it's good and some of it's sort of poignant. But there of course is some fun music that gets mixed in there, too. I'll just say that there is some rivalry, but it takes a compelling turn that I think is unexpected. And the source of the rivalry may not be what you expect. Of course, Josh is a great singer and that wasn't lost on our writers. But I'm excited to show the fans kind of where and how Josh's character fits into Andy's life and also what it means for who Andy is. And it's not all good. You can see an aspect of Andy exaggerated in Josh, which is a guy who's even more naive socially and sweeter, if you can believe it. So it's interesting to see the two of them together.”
On filling some pretty big shoes:
“I've known Steve for a long, long time, and I've always really admired Steve both creatively and personally. And he's one of a number of actors that I've looked up to and sort of taken cues from as I made choices in my career, and I'm really grateful for that example that he's set. He's always just been really supportive, and even going into this new season remains so. And I even got a really lovely note from Ricky Gervais the day after the premier, so that means an awful lot.”
"The Office" airs Thursday nights at 9 PM ET on NBC