Of the three leads of the original “The Hangover” film, Ed Helms was arguably the most famous at the time of its release in 2009. Whereas Bradly Cooper and Zach Galifianakis received a sizable boost in public profile from the film’s massive success, Helms was already well known for his regular role in “The Office,” as well as his appearances in “The Daily Show.” But the film, which grossed $467 million at the worldwide box office, making it the most successful R-rated comedy in history, still gave Helms a boost in public profile — something he found difficult to handle.
Helms spoke about how the “tornado of fame” that came with “The Hangover’s” success on a recent episode of the Conan O’Brien podcast “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend,” calling it “a whole new level” of public scrutiny compared to his work on TV.
“It was a tornado of fame and a lot of buffeting. It was very overwhelming” Helms said on the podcast. “I really was reeling a lot of the time, like in the aftermath of ‘The Hangover,’ I was getting scripts for all these different kinds of projects. ‘Like what do I do? I dunno.’ I was kind of spinning out and panicking about different things. Like, ‘Well, what kind of a career do you want?’”
Helms said he felt “very lucky” to have these opportunities, but admitted that it caused “a lot of anxiety and like identity kind of — just turmoil.”
“I will say one of the — one of the craziest things about a massive jump into fame like that, and what I think people who have never dealt with that or been close to it just can’t understand, is the just total loss of control of your environment,” he said.
Helms, Cooper, and Galifianakis went on to star in two sequels to “The Hangover,” released in 2011 and 2013. Helms said that he leaned on Cooper and Galifianakis to keep him grounded and sane while dealing with his newfound fame.
“If it wasn’t for those guys, I don’t think I would’ve stayed sane. But we all had each other to kind of be like, you know, I don’t know, just to commiserate and measure ourselves,” Helms said. “And I think we kept each other from drifting too far. And being too unprofessional.