Incoming “Office” manager Ed Helms gave credit to his predecessor Steve Carell for paving the way for “Daily Show” correspondents to branch out and expand their careers beyond the Jon Stewart-hosted late-night show.
Helms emerged last Thursday, in the season premiere of “The Office” on NBC, as the new manager of the Dunder-Mifflin Sabre paper company’s Scranton, Pa., office — elevating his character, Andy Bernard, from salesman to boss (reporting to new CEO Robert California, played by James Spader).
On Tuesday, in a telephone news conference, Helms reflected on the similarities between his career and Carell’s. Among other things, the two were comedic correspondents on “The Daily Show” and then became stars of TV (specifically “The Office”) and big-screen comedies (such as “The Hangover” movies in which Helms stars).
“Steve and I have, certainly, a few signposts along our careers that match up,” Helms said. He noted that Carell’s big movie breakthrough was his starring role in “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” in 2005, a movie hit that made Hollywood begin to pay attention to the “Daily Show” comedians.
“I really credit Steve, certainly, going back to ‘The Daily Show’,” Helms said. “When Steve did ’40-Year-Old Virgin,’ that really broke the mold for all of the correspondents on ‘The Daily Show’ in a really wonderful way. It allowed the general public as well as the entertainment industry to suddenly see the ‘Daily Show’ correspondents as something more than just these snarky news reporters. That’s just something I’ll always be grateful that Steve did.”
Helms said he and Carell enjoy a very friendly relationship and that Carell supports Andy Bernard’s promotion to “Office” manager. “I’ve known Steve for a very long time and I’ve always really admired [him] both creatively and personally,” Helms said. “He’s one of a number of actors that I have looked up to and taken cues from as I’ve made choices in my career. I’m always grateful for the example that he set. He’s always been very supportive [and] going into this season, he remains so.”
Helms also received a show of support from another performer he admires — “Office” creator Ricky Gervais. Said Helms, “I even got a really lovely note from Ricky Gervais the day after the premiere [last week]. That means an awful lot.”