I don’t know what else I can say about director Todd Philips “The Hangover”. I’ve already told you it’s laugh out loud funny. I’ve already said you absolutely need to see it this weekend so people don’t ruin all the jokes. Also, everyone’s going to be talking about this movie next week, and you’ll want to be able to join in the conversation.
Again, this film is the real deal and Todd’s best work since “Old School”.
Anyhow, a little over a week ago I was in Las Vegas for the press junket and I got to participate in a roundtable interview with Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis. If you’d like to hear about some stories about making the movie, the transcript is after the break.
As always, you can also listen to the audio of the interview by clicking here. With three people talking, that might be your better option. Finally, here’s some movie clips from “The Hangover”. You’re all going to love this movie.
Question: I wanted to ask; it’s the three of you together and Justin Bartha by himself. Was there some sort of vote that kept him out of this?
ED HELMS: A lot of tension. Tons of tension.
ZACH GALIFIANAKIS: He only likes to do press by himself.
That’s what he said.
BRADLEY COOPER: Did he really say that? Well, it wasn’t his decision.
Can you talk about your character for this and why you think you were right for this role versus one of the others?
HELMS: I guess my character, Stu, is kind of a nervous nelly, rule follower of the group. I can’t imagine why Todd [Phillips] thought I would be right for that part other than the fact that I’ve known Todd for sometime and I’m kind of a nervous nelly rule follower person in real life. So maybe that had something to do with it.
GALIFIANAKIS: My name is Zach Galifianakis and that’s spelled –
HELMS: Oh, boy. This is going to take a while.
GALIFIANAKIS: Galifianakis. G as in Galifianakis. I play a character, Alan, who’s a well intentioned moron who is kind of trapped in adolescence. He wants friends but can’t get any really, can’t get adult friends.
COOPER: Did you think that you could play it?
GALIFIANAKIS: No. I didn’t think that I could play it. The reason, it’s easy to play. When a role seems fun it’s easy to play. It kind of comes organically.
COOPER: I play Phil who’s an English school teacher for boys and he’s a father. He’s kind of the guy who’s bark is a lot bigger than his bite. He talks a big game, going to Vegas and that he’s going to get crazy and he loves sort of reliving whatever it is that he doesn’t live in his home life. It’s like a lot of fathers who talk a big game, but really they love their family and they’re actually good guys. He’s sort of the problem solver. There’s nothing that he can’t solve and tries to hold it together even when there’s nothing to hold together.
And why did you think you were right for that role?
COOPER: Well, I didn’t actually. I really didn’t. I just sort of trusted Todd [Phillips] because I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can pull this off.’ But then about two weeks into it I started to get comfortable and I realized that I was figuring it out. But I’m glad that he thought I should do it because I probably wouldn’t have thought that I could do it.
You’ve done the comedy villain so well. Is the era of the Bradley Cooper headliner here now?
HELMS: Bradley? Are you ready to put yourself in starring roles?
COOPER: Yeah. I’ve decided. I’ve been in talks with myself.
HELMS: Bradley Cooper quote. ‘It is the era of Bradley Cooper.’ [laughs]
COOPER: I have no idea. If I can just keep working with people that I love to work with that’s all I pretty much care about.
I think the first thing a lot of people saw you in was ‘Alias’ where you played a sensitive guy. Are you surprised that you’ve had later success as the sort of alpha guy?
COOPER: Yeah, it’s so odd. I remember that after I left ‘Alias’ no one saw me or people wouldn’t even see me. I’d put myself on tape at home for all these roles because they were like, ‘Oh, no, no. Bradley. He’s such a good guy. He can’t play that.’ Then it was David Dobkin, I went in for him on ‘Wedding Crashers’ and he had no idea what ‘Alias’ was or anything and so he hired me right away and that was the major break. Then after that everyone was like, ‘Well, isn’t he kind of an asshole? I mean, really. I think he’s kind of an asshole.’ Elia Kazan always said that if you’re going to play a cowboy you better show up with a horse because no one sees anything but what you bring.
Everyone’s talking about making a sequel for this already. But you just signed on to go to Williamstown to do a little revival of ‘True West’. Is that any way to have a career?
COOPER: I know. I actually like to act a lot. ‘Wait a second, what? There’s something wrong with that guy.’ ‘True West’ is an amazing play by Sam Shepard. Rob Corddry unfortunately fell out and they asked if I could do it and I love Nate [Corddry], his younger brother. So I see that as a massive opportunity. It’s a huge role. Williamstown is a great place. I did it last summer. I did a Theresa Rebeck play there called ‘The Understudy’. It’s a great venue and so I see that as a huge opportunity.
Do you guys have any hangover cures?
COOPER: Zach does.
HELMS: Hair of the dog. By that I mean literally shave a dog and eat his hair. It really works.
GALIFIANAKIS: Water. A lot of water. Roasted beets and panty hose.
COOPER: What do you with the panty hose?
HELMS: Do you wear them?
GALIFIANAKIS: Just put them on.
HELMS: On your legs?
GALIFIANAKIS: Yes. Your legs.
HELMS: Oh, I’m sorry. I’m an idiot.
Are you in the sequel for ‘Night at the Museum’?
What do you do in that?
HELMS: I play Larry Daley’s assistant. Larry Daley is Ben Stiller’s character. It’s a huge thing. Lets put it this way; Larry Daley’s assistant carries a good thirty seconds of the movie. It’s really fun. I was actually in the first movie, but I was in a scene before all the museum stuff happened and so they cut it out. Then Shawn Levy called me and said, ‘We really want you in the second one. We don’t have a lot of parts.’ I was like, ‘I’d love to be a part.’ So I just jumped in this one little part and I get to have a little scene with Ben. That’s all.
What’s the best prank that you guys have ever played on your friends?
COOPER: You must’ve done something to your brother.
GALIFIANAKIS: Uh, yeah. I can’t talk about those things.
HELMS: I can’t talk about one with your brother.
GALIFIANAKIS: Don’t tell them that. No, Ed. Don’t tell them about that.
HELMS: Can I be vague about it?
GALIFIANAKIS: Yeah, OK.
HELMS: Bradley and I spent New Year’s at Zach’s farm in North Carolina and his brother was there. Greg. He’s a hilarious guy.
GALIFIANAKIS: That’s good enough.
HELMS: I’ll just say this; I was pranked. I found a ridiculous picture on my digital camera later that Zach’s brother gave me as a little gift.
A picture of what?
HELMS: That’s where it ends.
Someone’s penis or something?
GALIFIANAKIS: No. If you can imagine, it’s much worse.
And what other pranks have you done?
GALIFIANAKIS: Well, I’m the one who took that picture. My brother just posed.
COOPER: I don’t have one. I can’t think of one.
Can you talk about the montage of pictures at the end of this film? The blowjob. Apparently the MPAA didn’t watch the closing credits.
COOPER: Is that against the rules? Really? It’s a dildo though.
GALIFIANAKIS: But that woman was seventy seven years old. I think there’s an age where it becomes non-sexual.
Was that a prosthetic?
GALIFIANAKIS: I don’t remember. I have to look at again to see what the size was. We were just talking about it. It didn’t match my skin color. It looks like a piece of taffy. I would never. To be honest I didn’t want to do the photo. It’s uncomfortable.
You’re in a jock strap in this movie.
GALIFIANAKIS: I know. I didn’t want to do that either.
I thought you volunteered for that.
GALIFIANAKIS: No. They wanted tighty-whiteys and I said, ‘I’ve seen that a thousand times in movies. Why don’t we do a jockstrap?’
And you masturbate a baby in this movie.
GALIFIANAKIS: Yeah. I didn’t want to do that either. Can I tell you, that I came up with but I didn’t want to do it. All of it I came up with but I didn’t want to do it. It’s funny privately, but in front of an American audience it’s embarrassing. I’m going to walk around airports and people are going to go, ‘Hey, you’re the guy who wears a jockstrap and jerks off babies.’
And have your penis in the mouth of someone at the end of the movie.
GALIFIANAKIS: Yeah, exactly.
Can you fill in this blank. I know it’s summer when _______?
HELMS: I know it’s summer when I read on my calendar that the first day of summer has arrived. Right? Is there something that I’m not getting? Is that a leading question.
GALIFIANAKIS: I’m trying to think of one. What kind of answer do you want? Funny?
GALIFIANAKIS: Oh, well, you might want to skip me.
If you have a philosophical one I’ll take that, too.
GALIFIANAKIS: I know it’s summer when it’s the last day of spring.
Warner Brothers is already trying to put together a sequel for this. What kinds of things would you like to see happen that you didn’t get to do on this film?
COOPER: I think there’s endless possibility actually on what you can do. It’s a great hook. The movie has a great hook. So you can take it anywhere.
GALIFIANAKIS: Yeah, and I can jerk off a panda.
HELMS: I think the only way to heighten this movie would be take it to the next level.
COOPER: The next level?
HELMS: Obviously. I think everyone is thinking the same thing, a space station. We’re all astronauts and we get high on moon juice and we forget what happens to Doug and it turns out that he’s floating into a black hole somewhere and we have to fight aliens to get him back.
GALIFIANAKIS: Not a bad idea.
HELMS: I guess that’s it.
What about the tooth, it looked so real?
HELMS: The lack of tooth is totally real. 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.
Did Todd know that when he was writing this?
HELMS: Nope. 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.
Bradley, there’s a lot of talk about ‘The Green Lantern’. This is something that could really change your life and career, being thought of as a comic book character. Have you thought about that, weighing that in terms of doing it or not?
They want you to do that?
COOPER: I have no idea.
I mean, you’ve talked with them and auditioned right?
COOPER: No. That’s all something that just happened on the internet.
I heard that you got called up onstage at a show in Vegas and had your shirt taken off and were molested.
COOPER: Well, I asked them to do that. That was a thing where Todd Phillips and Heather Graham and I did. It was a day we had off in Vegas and we went to that Zoomanity.
HELMS: That’s every Thursday night at Chippendales.
COOPER: They call people from the audience up.
So you volunteered for that?
COOPER: No, no. Of course not. I actually said to them when we were going there, ‘I hate going to places where they call people up from the audience.’ I said to Heather, ‘This isn’t the show where they do that, right?’ She said, ‘No, no. It’s fine.’ Of course they called me up at the end of the show.
Did you get to see other shows?
COOPER: We did get to see a couple.
GALIFIANAKIS: I saw The Beatles a couple of times. That was good. Then I saw Cher seventeen times.
HELMS: I didn’t see anything. I was actually really bummed because there were a bunch of shows that I wanted to see. But I would shoot five days and then hop back to L.A. to shoot two days on ‘The Office’. So I was working seven days a week for about five weeks. I never got to do anything fun. I never got to do anything Vegas-y.
GALIFIANAKIS: Except for the movie.
HELMS: The movie was fun. Let me back up. I got to do the movie which was super fun, but I didn’t get to do anything Vegas-ish.
What about the tiger and more importantly what about the chicken?
COOPER: Yeah. The big red herring in the movie. And the smoking chair. I’m more interested in that smoking chair.
HELMS: I’m more interested how you got into the hospital.
COOPER: I know. That’s never explained.
HELMS: I think it’s probably related to the chicken.
Was there really a tiger around and was it drugged?
COOPER: No. That tiger was not drugged. It was very much around.
HELMS: It was on amphetamines and it was around.
COOPER: It was very much around and it was terrifying. Katie her name was, a terrifying tiger.
HELMS: Here’s the thing, that tiger had no idea what it’s name was. The trainers were like, ‘Katie! Katie! Katie!’ It was just doing whatever it wanted to do.
Zach, were you worried about the Tyson punch?
GALIFIANAKIS: A little bit, yeah. I haven’t been hit since Leon Spinks hit me in ’92.
What’s it like working with guinea pigs in ‘G-Force’?
GALIFIANAKIS: You know what, that’s just all internet speculation.
Were you nervous before the first day of school when you were a kid?
COOPER: Yes, I was. There are bullies that you have to go back to, yes.
HELMS: Yeah, who are the two of us.
How instant was the chemistry for you guys since there was no rehearsal?
GALIFIANAKIS: It was pretty much there, don’t you think, Ed? Your name is Ed, right?
HELMS: Yeah. Zach and I knew each other reasonably well. We were acquaintances beforehand. Zach and Bradley were also acquaintances. I had met Bradley once before at a party where he offended me.
COOPER: I was actually nervous. I was like, ‘Oh, I love you on “30 Rock”.’
HELMS: It was very cool, obviously. I had really not done anything more though than shake Bradley’s hand. But we met up in Todd’s office a few weeks before production and went over stuff and immediately were laughing and having fun together. Then the table read was really exciting because it went great and everyone just inhabited their roles quickly. The roles were pretty similar to our dynamic. The dynamic of the three guys in the movie kind of, in maybe a more grounded way, reflect our friendship.
Does that mean Bradley was the teacher of the group?
HELMS: Uh, no. I’ve learned a lot from Bradley.
Did you decide that what you taught as the teacher in the movie?
COOPER: I taught English. There was the first half of a scene where he was talking about ‘Of Mice and Men’ but I don’t think that’s in there, but yeah, he’s an English teacher. So that was in the script.
And what would you teach if you were a teacher?
COOPER: God help the kids.