updated 06/04/2009 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 06/05/2009 AT 2:05 PM ET
Ed Helms’s toothless grin has been emblazoned on posters for his new movie The Hangover – and it turns out the holey smile wasn’t just a gag.
“It is totally real,” Helms, 35, tells PEOPLE. “I have an implant. An adult tooth never came in and when I was 16, they did a permanent implant.”
For the film, about a bachelor party in Las Vegas that goes wildly wrong, Helms spends much of the time sans front tooth. To achieve the look, he (and his dentist) decided to forego prosthetics and just remove his fake tooth.
“We started to do different tests with prosthetics and blacking it out and nothing worked,” Helms says. “I wasn’t eager to take out my implant because my mouth is healthy, but I talked to my dentist and he was like, ‘Yeah we can do it!’ My dentist was really into it.”
Given the film’s over-the-top antics, Helms, who also stars in NBC’s The Office, can be persuaded into recalling some wild moments of his own.
“There was a time in college I threw up so many times I burst capillaries in my face,” he says. “It looked like I had red freckles. I was mortified. I didn’t leave my house for 24 hours.”