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Ed Helms reflects on the 'anxiety' and 'identity turmoil' that came after 'The Hangover'

Ed Helms spoke about his experience with anxiety after finding extreme fame with
Ed Helms spoke about his experience with anxiety after finding extreme fame with The Hangover. (Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

For Ed Helms, fame came with a price.

The star of The Hangover franchise spoke to Conan O’Brien on the latter’s Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend podcast, where he opened up about the anxiety he experienced following the premiere of the widely successful 2009 comedy.

“It was a tornado of fame…it was very overwhelming,” Helms explained. “I also feel very lucky for that as well, because my public persona had risen gradually.”

Though Helms had experienced what he called a “toy level” of fame from his work on The Daily Show and The Office, he called The Hangover a “whole new level.”

“When The Hangover came out, it was so exciting, and another way I was lucky on that one — 10 million ways I was lucky — was that Bradley [Cooper] and Zack [Galifianakis] and I were all on the same level before that, so we were all going through it together,” Helms shared. “If it wasn’t for those guys, I don’t think I would have stayed sane. We all had each other to…commiserate, and measure ourselves.”

Helms also noted that the film came with many more opportunities to do different kinds of projects, which came with “weird conversations with agents and reps.”

“I definitely felt a lot of anxiety and identity turmoil,” he said. “One of the craziest things about a massive jump into fame like that is — and I think this is what people who never dealt with it or came close to it can never understand — is just the total loss of your environment. When you’re a famous person, you just can’t stand at baggage claim and expect it to be normal.”

Since, Helms has learned that there are a lot of ways to approach those situations.

“You can get very fearful and try to hide in the bathroom until you see your luggage come on the carousel, then run out and grab it and run away — or you know, hire lots of people to do all these things for you,” he added. “Or, you know — which I think is the best thing — is to just kind of accept the fluid nature of these situations and accept that the stakes really are never quite as high as you think they are kind of in your mind.”

Helms previously spoke about his approach to life in a 2012 interview with Men's Health.

"Personal responsibility is one of the most important things in life," he said at the time. "I struggle with it all the time. No matter how good or bad things are going, you’ve gotta just take responsibility for yourself. I always say, 'If you’re eating a s*** sandwich, chances are you ordered it.' The same thing goes for the filet mignon."

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