Ed Helms on what Andy from The Office has in common with new Rutherford Falls character
In the pilot for Peacock's latest comedy Rutherford Falls (out now), Ed Helms' Nathan Rutherford has the ultimate meltdown. The downward spiral may ring a bell for those who've followed Helms' previous roles. After all, he infamously punched through a wall out of nowhere and spontaneously sailed away to the Caribbean on The Office as Andy Bernard. In a recent interview with EW, Helms says he sees a parallel between Andy and his latest return to TV.
"Andy Bernard and [Nathan] are well-intentioned characters who are earnest but they have some serious blind spots. They really get in their own way," he says.
Rutherford Falls follows Rutherford as the steward to the family legacy in a small town in the Northeast. After hearing that the mayor has plans to move the statue of his ancestor "Big Larry," Rutherford scratches and claws to keep it right where a treaty was made with the neighboring fictional Minishonka Nation back in the 1600s. Yet his efforts don't cover the fact that the agreement wasn't as equal as we would like to think, no matter how many times he explains it away as just how things were.
In the opening scene of the show, for example, Rutherford is leading a tour of his family's Heritage Museum when he's caught off-guard by a kid who asks him where the statue of Benny Minishonka is, the tribe leader who was on the other end of the agreement. Rutherford balks and says bronze was too expensive at the time.
Andy on The Office also has a penchant to bend the truth or lose control of his temper. "In Andy's case, he has personality defects. I think in Nathan's case, he has some cultural blindspots and a level of repression and/or denial that just makes it really hard to push through when questions of identity come up," Helms says.
Rutherford's own tirade comes after he has a brief change of heart when best friend Reagan Wells (Jana Shmieding) tells him he can make himself the hero. The decision would be announced on Founder's Day for the public in the town square. Rutherford gets immediate pushback, getting asked why the statue is there in the first place and if they could find an updated replacement, like Youtuber Jenna Marbles or an Instagram-famous dog in town. Seething at the thought of these suggestions, Rutherford goes off-script and reverses his decision. Helms calls this moment "the backfire effect."
"When you have a deeply held core belief, and you hear evidence that this belief you have is not true, it doesn't matter how convincing the evidence may be or how much evidence there is. Chances are, you will not change your point of view," he says. "In fact, you will backfire and double down even harder on your original point of view."
All 10 episodes of Rutherford Falls can be streamed on Peacock starting today.
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