Dr. Adrian Helmsley is the secondary protagonist of 2012. He is a geologist and the Chief Science Adviser to the late President Thomas Wilson and the son of Harry Helmsley. He soon later starts a relationship with Laura Wilson, an art expert and the First Daughter of President Wilson. He is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor. He is 32-35 years old. Adrian is a survivor of the 2012 apocalypse.
In 2009, Adrian Helmsley is seen reading a book in a taxi while visiting his friend Dr. Satnam Tsurtani, an astrophysicist at Naga Deng Copper Mine, in Nampan India. He warns the driver about Satnam's son who is playing with a toy boat and nearly runs over the toy. After saying hello to Satnam and his family, Satnam takes Adrian down to a lab beneath the ground of 11 thousand feet as it used to be one of the biggest copper mines in the world. Satnam shows Adrian a video of the Sun unleashing a massive solar flare with an exponential amount of neutrinos and for the first time, the neutrinos were causing a physical reaction which makes Adrian stunned and confused. Satnam shows Adrian a watertight which goes another six thousand feet and the neutrinos were coming from the Sun and have mutated into a new kind of nuclear particle. The neutrinos are heating up the Earth's core and Adrian looks down into the watertight, shocked after learning everything from Satnam.
Adrian flies to Washington DC to inform Chief of Staff Carl Anheuser about the news he and Satnam discovered. With the help of his friend Scotty (who let him borrow his jacket to enter into a black-tie party), he shows Anheuser the paper about the neutrinos heating up the Earth's core and this will cause a chain of natural disasters. Anheuser is stunned when he learns about the news and takes Adrian to meet President Thomas Wilson to inform him about the news.
In 2012, Adrian is seen in the President's room talking about the upcoming apocalypse and Anheuser is informing Wilson that Adrian is flying to Yellowstone National Park to collect more data. As soon as Adrian tells Wilson that he was wrong about the apocalypse, Laura Wilson comes into the room and tells her father about the news of Roland Picard's death. Adrian stares at her before he and Anheuser left the room to continue their jobs. Adrian then leaves for Yellowstone to collect more data.
In Yellowstone, Adrian is talking to Professor Frederick West about some scientific news around Yellowstone before being informed that a family has passed the restricted fence. Adrian goes to take care of the family, he discovers that it is Jackson Curtis who is the author of Farewell Atlantis and Adrian is a fan of. After greeting, Jackson and his two kids Noah and Lilly, Adrian goes to talk to Satnam on webcam, who explains that they thought they were wrong about the end of the world, but they were not as the Earth's crust is destabilising, which stuns Adrian and Professor West. Adrian watches as Jackson and his kids leave before flying back to DC.
In DC, Adrian tells the national leaders around the world that the subterranean crust which holds the Earth's landmass in place is destabilizing a rate much faster than anticipated. Adrian informs them that they only have three days left before the apocalypse begins on December 21, 2012. President Wilson recommends that they evacuate at once.
On December 21, 2012, Adrian is informed by Scotty and Professor West that a record 10.9 earthquake, which the magnitude scale is upgraded by a guy at Harvard, is striking the whole state of California. The San Andreas fault along with the sister faults are shifting in the bay area and the whole Pacific Plate is destabilizing (causing the entire state of California to sink into the Pacific Ocean).
Later on, Adrian speaks to his father, Harry Helmsley, who is onboard the Genesis ship to Japan, and informs him that the apocalypse is happening. They both share a tearful and sensitive moment before hanging up on the phone.
Adrian then heads off to bring Anheuser to show him another earthquake striking South America, the chaos breaking out in London, and people around the globe gathering in public places in desperate prayer on live TV. While Adrian and Anheuser talk about that, the rest of the public have the right to fight for their lives the best they can, because a massive panic will be caused if they told them about the end of the world. Professor West comes to inform them that the Yellowstone Caldera has erupted and the ash cloud will hit Washington in seven hours. Adrian finds President Wilson, who is in the church praying, while the rest of the staff heads to board Air Force One to get to the arks. Wilson explains to Adrian that he choose to stay in DC to address the nation one last time. He also mentions that he used to have a wife named Dorothy.
Adrian then boards Air Force One, joining the rest of the staff, explaining that the President is not coming. Anheuser reveals that the Vice President is dead after being hit by ash clouds somewhere in Pittsburgh and the Speaker of the White House is missing. He becomes the acting President (“acting” because Anheuser is not in the line of succession) without having authority, then Anheuser and Adrian begin to have an argument. After taking off, they all watch as President Wilson addresses the nation one last time.
Adrian goes to see Laura. As they talk about all the people they left behind and how they don't stand a chance, Adrian shows her his copy of Jackson Curtis' book Farewell Atlantis. The staff calls for Adrian to come to the computer room- they have recorded more disasters around the world. Adrian comes back to see a 9.4 earthquake hitting the capital of the USA (Washington D.C.). The Earth's crust has shifted more than a thousand miles after an earthquake happened in the Vatican. After the moving landmasses come to a halt, gigantic megatsunamis formed by the corresponding quakes are going to flood the entire planet and turn it into a Waterworld. Adrian finds that more tsunamis are going to strike the Japanese seaboard after two earthquakes happened in the Japanese Seaboard and it will capsize the Genesis.
Adrian and Anheuser discover that the tsunamis will flood the Cho Ming area within six hours. The crust has shifted by 23 degrees to the southwest. The Earth's poles have reversed their magnetic fields- Wisconsin is now the North Pole, and the South Pole is now somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Professor West says that Wisconsin is the South Pole, which confuses Adrian and Anheuser.
After they landed in China, they begin to board the American Ark, seeing Ark 3 where it is blocked after the roof collapsed during the shifting of the Earth's crust. Adrian was put into a room on the Ark but is unimpressed that they should fit 10 people in the room. His phone rings and Satnam explains that a gigantic tsunami is coming from the East and they have never got picked up. Satnam is soon killed along with his family. Shocked by his friend's death, Adrian goes to find out where the tsunami is going to hit in the next few minutes as Anheuser orders the arks to be ready for the drift off.
Adrian, Laura, and Professor West see all the survivors are frantically trying to get onto the Arks, while some of them are falling off the ledge. Adrian then gives a speech to the other two Arks: they cannot let the survivors die, but instead, have the rest of civilization die in vain instead of starting their future with an act of cruelty. The people on the Arks decided to let the survivors come aboard the Arks, deciding that they cannot leave them to die.
Right after bringing all of the survivors aboard the Ark, the gate's hydraulics are jammed by something and they have a breach in the Zoological Bay. As they zoom in, Adrian sees Noah and Lilly, as well as Jackson Curtis, helping the injured Tenzin get into the next bay. Tenzin and Jackson’s families have stowed away on the ark to survive. Adrian, Laura and an ark staff member went to the Zoological Bay to inform Jackson about the jammed hydraulics.
After the gigantic tsunami flooded Asia, Air Force One hit one of the Ark's anchors setting the Ark off course. Adrian, Laura, and the Ark staff arrive at the Zoological Bay where they find Lilly and Caesar screaming for Tamara (who drowns in the flooding chamber). They inform Jackson about the hydraulics system being jammed with an Impact Driver. If they don't get it out, they will collide with Mount Everest. Jackson and Noah manage to get the drill out of the gears and they escape death just in time. They all thought that Jackson had drowned, but he managed to get out.
When the global floodwaters from the tsunamis recede, the entire African continent had risen up above the sea level. The Drakensberg Mountains are now the tallest mountains in the world. Adrian starts a relationship with Laura, and the three arks set sail for the Cape of Good Hope.
- Adrian Hemsley was played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, whose performance was praised.