Ed Helms plays the ultimate survivor in ‘The Hangover, Pt. II’

Ed Helms is a really nice guy.  It’s apparent from any interview you’ve ever seen with him and, moreover, it translates into the performances you see on screen or on his regular TV gig on “The Office.”  Some actors can fake that kindness, but Helms just seems too genuine to hide his true feelings (and that’s a compliment).  Therefore, it’s not surprising he’s put himself through the ringer one more time as the surprisingly out of the box Stu in Todd Phillips “The Hangover, Pt. II.”  He’s a trooper, right?

You remember what a tough time Stu had in the first “Hangover,” don’t you?  He got his tooth knocked out, he ended up getting married to a stripper (a now absent Heather Graham) and put through enough psychological torture to require years of analysis (and all to the delight of moviegoers around the world).  The second adventure of “the Wolfpack” (Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifinakis, Helms) find our heroes in Thailand where Stu is marrying a new love interest Lauren(Jamie Chung and no, what happened to Graham’s character is never brought up).  Before you can say “roofie,” the trio – along with Lauren’s little brother Teddy (Mason Lee) – end up in yet another “What just happened?” mystery in dirty, dark and scary downtown Bangkok.  Oh, and Stu has Mike Tyson’s tattoo branded on his face.  It’s just the beginning of what is an even more traumatic series of events for the usually mild mannered dentist.

HitFix spoke to Helms a few weeks ago about the sequel and shooting in an unusual locale such as Thailand.  Helms admitted he didn’t know what to expect during the nine-week shoot on the other side of the world, but admitted it was “a hell of a lot of hard work.”

“Bangkok is an incredible place. The people are benevolent and wonderful, but it’s a very dense, very urban, crowded and tropical, hot, steamy place. It’s just constant sensory overload,” Helms says. “Not to mention the fact that everything is unfamiliar.  So, it’s hard place to be. It’s a hard place to hang out. Most tourists don’t even stay in Bangkok very long because there is so much more to see in Thailand. But, our schedule was just completely insane on top of it. So, it was a very physically demanding movie. A lot of people got sick. It was a very taxing, but all the while an exciting experience.”

Helms is adorned with the tattoo Stu receives for a good chunk of the film and – surprise –  it wasn’t painted o (that would be too easy).  Instead, makeup artists glued a think paper-like material to his face every morning.  And it actually left an impression, though not what you’d expect.

“A few weeks [into shooting] I already had a sun tan of the tattoo. Especially when we got to Bangkok and we were outside all day long I got a little too much sun a couple of days and it would sort of be this reverse tattoo,” Helms says. ” But, that thing is hard to take on and take off. When you are out working in the heat and humidity you can’t [expletive] around. You really need to clue that thing down.  So, that wasn’t a lot of fun. My face was pretty raw by the end of it.”

Stu’s character isn’t the only one to have a tough time of it during the film.  Phil (Cooper) gets shot and Alan (Galifianakis) wakes up to find his head shaved (granted, he got off the easiest), but none of them could hold a candle to the “surprise” event that will shock most moviegoers and may strain the film’s R-rating.

“There is a pretty big violation of Stu that is pretty shocking.  I knew as soon as we started talking about setting the movie in Bangkok it just seemed that something like that was going to fit in somewhere, but it wasn’t at all clear it was going to happen to Stu until I read the script,” Helms says. “But what is funny is that a lot of the smaller things are pretty harsh too. The speech from the bride’s father and, y’know, the tattoo.  It’s a lot.  Stu is kind of a punching bag, but in a kind of wonderful, endearing way.”

With “The Hangover, Part II’ expected to have a colossal $100 million 4-5 day weekend, you have to believe a third installment in the series will eventually happen, but Helms can’t even think in those terms yet.

“That’s such an abstract thing,” Helms says of a threequel.  “I’m just so damn psyched about this movie and I’m just eager to put it out there and see what the response is.  I think number three and certainly any creative issues about number three would be a discussion to have after we see how this one fares.”

To find out what an easy time Helms’ co-star Justin Bartha had on the shoot, check out the interview below.

“The Hangover, Part II” is now playing nationwide.