‘The Office’: Ed Helms Had a Trick for Scenes With Steve Carell So He Wouldn’t Totally ‘Lose It’

Nearly every Office cast member who’s asked in an interview to comment on their time working with Steve Carell talks about how difficult it was to not break character opposite Michael Scott. Michael, the socially inept Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch regional manager, will go down as one of the funniest characters in sitcom history. And the actors who played his former employees have to agree.

Ed Helms and Andy Bernard and Steve Carell as Michael Scott
Ed Helms as Andy Bernard and Steve Carell as Michael Scott in ‘The Office’ | Trae Patton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Ed Helms hid from the camera in ‘Secret Santa’ because he was laughing so hard  

In “Secret Santa,” Jim tells Phyllis (played by Phyllis Smith) that she can be Santa and all hell breaks loose. Michael is outraged because he has always gotten to play the part of Saint Nicholas. He rebels by dressing instead as Jesus and making snarky comments throughout the gift exchange.

But before Michael gives up the gig, he tries to prove himself to be the better Santa. Phyllis wouldn’t let Kevin (played by Brian Baumgartner) sit on her lap, so Michael invites him to take a seat on his and tell him what he wants for Christmas. The scene was, apparently, hard to get through for cast members because they found it so funny.

“Kevin is sitting in his lap, and he’s so awful about it, because it’s uncomfortable for him, and he’s just being really rude and weird and mean about it,” Ed Helms shared on a 2018 episode of The Dan Patrick Show. “I had to duck behind a plant — you can see in the actual episode.”

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Helms added that they had to keep re-filming the scene because he kept breaking character and laughing.

“That was like take 30 because I had been laughing in every single take. He’s a genius,” he said.

You can actually see when Helms exits the scene because he couldn’t keep it together. Kevin is thinking about what he’d like for Christmas on a very uncomfortable Michael’s lap when the camera turns to Andy and Ryan (BJ Novak) for their reaction shots.

The camera turns back to Kevin who asks, “What if I tell you the things I don’t want?”

When the camera zooms out again, Andy is suddenly gone. But he reappears from behind a wall moments later.

Ed Helms did this to keep from laughing when he was acting opposite Steve Carell

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While “Secret Santa” might have been particularly difficult for Helms to get through, he said it was consistently difficult to act opposite Carell and not break into laughter. Thankfully, he came up with a way to get through his scenes with the infamously funny actor.

“Steve Carell, he just slays me,” said Helms. “There’s something in his eyes. There’s a lot of time when I was doing a scene with Steven and I had to look at his chin, otherwise, I would just lose it.”

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