Posters for the new comedy The Hangover feature a striking image of The Office's Ed Helms with a gap in his mouth. In the film, his character loses a tooth in a drunken bachelor party and does not find out how until the end of the movie. Helms fortuitously had a real dental condition that served the film well.

"The lack of tooth is totally real," Helms said. "This is an implant that I've had since I was fifteen. We were able to take it out for three months during the run of the movie. Total coincidence. We actually tried camera tests with blacking it out or a prosthetic even, but I looked like a donkey and I wasn't happy about that. Then I asked my dentist if we could take the implant out and he said yeah."


Perhaps it wasn't quite as matter of fact as Helms describes. Director Todd Phillips took great joy in describing how he egged Helms on to remove his tooth. "We tried to use prosthetic devices and it really changed the way he talked when you put in a prosthetic device, because your whole mouth has to drop," Phillips said. "So I started to make Ed feel really self-conscious about his bad tooth. I'm like, 'That tooth, man, it doesn't look good, man, it doesn't fit in your head. Like, it's weird looking.' This is like his real tooth, so he was like, 'What do you mean?' I was like, 'You really should replace that tooth and get a real tooth, That tooth looks like it's a tooth of a fifteen-year-old.' He was like, 'This tooth is good.' So we kept making him feel bad about his tooth until finally he relented and pulled it out. And then we, the production, replaced it with a nice tooth."

The Hangover opens Friday.

Story/Interview by Fred Topel

Starpulse contributing writer