‘The Office’: Andy Bernard’s Sumo Costume Kept Ed Helms Alive in ‘Beach Games’

The Office fans might consider the costumes the cast wore simple because the characters were everyday office workers. But we’re here to tell you that’s not the case. The Office costume designer Carey Bennett talks about the complexity of the costuming for the NBC series, including one costume that kept Ed Helms alive in the season 3 episode “Beach Games.” 

Ed Helms as Andy Bernard in a sumo wrestler costume in the 'Beach Games' episode of 'The Office'
Ed Helms | NBC

Carey Bennett worked on the ‘huge amount of costumes’ for ‘The Office’ 

During an interview with Brian Baumgartner on The Office Deep Dive, Bennett talked about her experience working on the costumes for The Office. Bennett dove into her research by visiting a real-life paper company like John Krasinski did. There, she found inspiration for the characters fans know and love from the show. 

As Bennett said, thought went into every costume, with the costume department designing and doubling looks as needed. “It’s a huge task, and a huge amount of costumes,” said Bennett. 

Ed Helms would have drowned in his original ‘Beach Games’ sumo costume 

In The Office episode “Beach Games,” Michael Scott (Steve Carell) takes his employees to the beach for a day of games. There, he hopes to determine who will replace him as regional manager. In one scene, Andy falls into the water wearing an inflatable sumo costume. Stuck, Andy floats alone in the water for the rest of the day. 

Reflecting on the episode, Bennett remembers saying, “I don’t want to be in charge of this!” regarding Andy’s costume for those floating scenes. At the time, Bennett thought floating a cast member in an inflatable sumo costume seemed “dangerous” — and she was correct! 

Bennett and the stunt man who performed the scene ran through the logistics at executive producer Kent Zbornak’s house. “I’m like, ‘Here’s the thing. His body is inflatable, which will make his head the heaviest part of it. [Helms’] head is going to go underwater.'” 

That’s just what happened in their test run. So, Bennett constructed a helmet that resembled sumo hair, but doubled as a flotation device. “I had no idea you were literally designing to save lives,” Baumgartner said in the episode. 

‘The Office’ cast wasn’t entirely safe from harm while filming ‘Beach Day’ 

Bennett’s design work may have saved Helms, but another Office cast member was injured while filming that day. As Rainn Wilson details in his book The Bassoon King: Art, Idiocy, and Other Sordid Tales from the Band Room, “he accidentally kicked sand into Leslie David Baker’s eyes” that day. 

Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute and Leslie David Baker as Stanley Hudson wearing sumo costumes in 'The Office' episode 'Beach Games'
Rainn Wilson, Leslie David Baker | Trae Patton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Jenna Fischer recalled the incident on the Office Ladies podcast. “What happened was that during all this sumo wrestling, Leslie got sand in his eyes and they tried to flush it out but they couldn’t and I remember he had to leave set and I don’t know if he went to the hospital or to an eye doctor but he had a scratched cornea.”

Baker — Stanley Hudson in The Office — “had to be rushed to the hospital and have his enormous eyeball washed out and treated for a scratched cornea.” Said Wilson: “This is my chance to apologize to the entire cast. I’m sorry. It’s a wonder that I was never sued.”

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