Before he earned himself an Oscar nomination, Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) got attacked by a chicken in a Tijuana flophouse. Luckily, the chicken wasn’t real and neither was the seedy motel; they were part of the set for Warner Bros.’ film, The Hangover Part III. Cooper was kind enough to join our group of visiting journalists for a roundtable interview in which he talked about the evolving relationships between members of the Wolfpack, filming the final installment in The Hangover trilogy, going back to Vegas, his experience with Oscar buzz and being People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man of the Year.”
The film also stars Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Heather Graham, Mike Epps and Jeffrey Tambor. The Hangover Part III opens on May 24th and, if you haven’t seen it, you can check out the recently-released trailer here. Hit the jump for our full interview with Cooper.
BRADLEY COOPER: I’m great, thank you. Lot of chickens.
Yeah, we saw you rolling around. In there.
COOPER: You did? Exciting.
Is it fun to shoot that stuff, or tiring after a while?
COOPER: The chickens are difficult. They have crazy hours.
COOPER: Very big divas, yeah. It’s the same trainer that had Crystal the Monkey in the second one. Yeah.
So we know this is two years later. What’s changed for you as a character? Personally?
COOPER: Oh. As a character, not much. Phil’s the immovable object, in a way. You know? He’s got it all figured out.
However, a lot has changed personally. Has that changed the way you work with anybody?
COOPER: Well, Zach doesn’t like anybody to talk to him, which is different. So we’ve all adjusted to that. It’s just, I don’t know, “What happened, buddy?” You know? Joking. No, everybody’s great. Actually, the fact that this is the last one, everybody’s really enjoying it, I think, soaking up each day. And it’s really been quite wonderful, actually.
Sounds like it comes to a satisfying end in the script.
COOPER: Yeah, we hope so. It’s certainly satisfying for us, and it’s great that Chow’s back, obviously. And yeah, we go back to Vegas, which is exciting.
Lots of call-backs to the first and second, but it all–
COOPER: Yeah, it sort of all comes together in the end. Yeah.
Is that clever, the way they’ve done that?
COOPER: Yeah. Yes.
Is there a sense of nostalgia for you, going back to Vegas and filming a third entry?
COOPER: Yes, I was so excited to go back and go to Rao’s and stay at Caesars, and all the things we did the first time. And we all felt like, “Oh, my God, it’s going to be different. We’re going to get bombarded.” Nothing. Literally. It’s like Vegas is completely indifferent to anything that happens there. It’s wonderful.
We’ve been hearing all day that this movie is kind of centered on Alan and Alan’s problem– And he’s always had a weird, interesting relationship with Phil because he kind of looks up to him, in a way.
I’m kind of curious about that relationship in this movie.
COOPER: Like, what happens to it?
COOPER: All the guys have been through so much in the last two movies, and I think that has bonded them and it also has instilled animosity as well. In the relationship between Phil and Alan, yeah, I’d say they’re probably closer, but, yeah, it has its peaks and valleys in this movie.
COOPER: Yeah. Well, that’s one of the things we loved that happened in the first movie. Zach and I sort of created this thing and then it’s kind of worked its way through the three movies, which is fun. Yeah, yeah.
We’ve been watching the chicken fight. Is that indicative of how intense filming has been for you all throughout the shoot?
COOPER: In terms of working with animatronics?
Just having crazy things going on.
COOPER: Yeah, it’s been pretty crazy. Yeah, yeah. I mean, not as crazy as Bangkok. That was the hardest. Yeah, it’s nice to be shooting it here.
Do you think when this wraps, you and Zach and Ed will still go out and get beers and talk about the old days shooting Hangover Three?
COOPER: The old days of shooting– Well, we’ve got to get through it first. I think we should all take one day at a time. We’re halfway through, we have a lot left. Or a little bit more than halfway through. But, I mean, we’ve all become great friends. I mean, it feels like family. It almost feels like we’ve been doing a TV show and we take a year off in between episodes.
There is an interesting thing about this film in the sense that, there’s no wedding, there’s no memory loss. Is it kind of refreshing to take a look at the character from that different angle, or does it feel like you’re still making a movie that’s part of this franchise? How does it feel, all that?
COOPER: Oh, very much so. It feels like these characters are indelible to the story. And I kind of like that we veer from the structure of the first two. It was a conscious choice. And I think it’s also what the audience wants as well. Yeah. But hopefully– It’s about the characters and their relationship, which carries through more than the hook of a lost night.
We’re hearing that it has a lot of conclusions, and without going into any specifics, is it character conclusions, or is it just an overall sense of finality for the franchise?
COOPER: Well, they’re one and the same, I think, because it’s a character movie. It’s sort of a character study in an odd way, of these three guys and their dynamics. So I think they’re not mutually exclusive, the closure of the movie and the closure of their relationship.
We’ve heard the tone of this installment is a lot darker, too, kind of going in the direction that the last one went. Or at least darker than the last one has been. It’s still a comedy, isn’t it?
COOPER: Darker than the second one? Oh, really?
Yeah, darker than the second one, that’s what Todd kind of said. So I’m just wondering if that tone– How does that affect the group dynamic? Does it create tension between them, or does it press them closer together?
COOPER: In terms of the actors doing it, or the characters?
COOPER: Oh. I’d say, in each– There’s going to be obstacles, that’s why there’s a story. So, for sure, the plot creates some obstacles for them to have to overcome in order to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve. And so, yeah, that definitely creates a situation that calls for emotional highs and lows between the three guys. Yeah.
Seems like you guys– They were saying you guys go on the road a bit. You guys go to Vegas, L.A., and then a bit in the desert, and there’s some other location stuff. Is that more challenging or more fun for you guys aside from just doing one movie in Vegas, or one movie in Thailand?
COOPER: Well, we never did the whole– The Thailand we did it in L.A. and Thailand, and Vegas we did it in L.A. and Vegas. So it feels very much, in that sense, that we spent a month somewhere, and then we also went to Nogales and went to a bunch of different other places here. So it feels actually kind of the same, except one we just went many, many miles away for those two months. Yeah.
Ken was saying that you four occupied different comedic spaces and that’s why you work so well together. Would you agree with that, and what would those spaces be?
COOPER: Well, I mean, anything has a rhythm to it, comedy or drama. There has to be a musicality to it. And everybody can’t play the same instrument, ideally. But I think that we all have the same comedic tendencies, and that’s why it works. We all sort of agree with what’s funny. And even more so in this movie than the other two, it’s almost like everybody comes up with jokes or funny things for everybody else. Literally, it’s just sort of a free-for-all, which started to happen in the first one and then carried through to the second one. But this one, it’s happening even more freely. It’s kind of a wonderful melting pot of ideas for every character.
Kind of actually bridging off that, we’ve been told that Todd, in addition to letting you guys have your input, also has a very specific vision. And I’m curious– If you could just talk about working with him, and especially your working relationship going back to the first Hangover film and then working on this one.
COOPER: Well, it always makes it easier when you’ve done two movies prior and the things that your characters talk about, you’ve actually done. That’s a real positive point, where it makes it easy for the actor because there is a lived memory. And no, Todd is not this sort of, “All right, guys, let’s just see what happens.” No, it’s very specific, and the parameters with which we improvise are very, very tight. And he’s there, too. I mean, it’s very much, in a sense, the way it was working with other directors, where he’s saying lines and we’re on the spot, and it’s all sort of happening on the spot with him, too.
COOPER: I mean, that’s what I meant by it sort of feels like this melting pot. I don’t even feel any– Ego is not a word that I would ever use to describe any day or moment here at all. First of all, we’re laughing a lot in this one, too, which is great.
So you’re getting a lot of Oscar® buzz and acclaim for Silver Linings right now, but obviously you’re shooting this movie. So, is that something that feels like a distraction right now? Is that something that you’ve been thinking about at all? Can you talk about that?
COOPER: No. God. I mean, I just feel like– The movie’s just opening up– You’re talking about Silver Linings Playbook?
COOPER: You’re not talking about Hit and Run?
Oh, no. No.
COOPER: No. I mean, it’s two different things. But Silver Linings Playbook is just, you’re promoting a movie. That’s all I’m doing with that. And you hope that it gets out there and– You know.
Do you find that playing the same character in three films, and seeing how you’ve changed or how the look of that character would change, affects the way that now, in another film, you would look at a character and see their arc?
COOPER: No more than if I had done another movie, no. But also, Phil’s a different– He’s kind of a specific character that doesn’t have that much of a metamorphosis in the three movies. He really is, in terms of the comedic aspect of it, the guy who’s trying to keep a clear head and has this rather odd sense of what’s right and wrong. But it’s not something that has had a tremendous amount of dexterity, you know what I mean?
COOPER: Yeah, yeah.
Zach was saying he thinks about what happens with Alan within the two years between the films. Do you think about that with Phil? Like, he just has it in his head, just for himself.
COOPER: He’s just bragging about his process.
Yeah, you don’t think about that? He’s telling us his method.
COOPER: I’m sure he is. I’m sure he is, yeah. He keeps the beard for Alan. That’s right.
You’ve spent literally all day today wrestling on the ground with a robot chicken and yet your hair is still really good. What’s your secret?
COOPER: I just had it done right before I saw you guys. Obviously, I don’t think you’ve been watching it, because my hair’s been all over the place. But thank you.
COOPER: Oh, man, that was awesome. Yeah, yeah. He’s incredible. I’m a massive fan of his. Yeah, he just– What a coup to get him.
You guys have a fair amount of time on-screen as the Wolfpack with John Goodman’s character, yeah?
COOPER: Uh-huh. Yeah, yeah.
When you guys first got together as the Wolfpack, did Todd put you guys together in a room with a bottle of tequila and say, “Bond”?
COOPER: Nope. No, it was, “We got to start shooting this day, and everybody show up.” But Zach and I lived in Venice, and I got his number and I said, “Hey, man, I’m going to drive to Vegas. You want to drive?” And he said, “Sure.” So that was actually kind of great. We got to know each other on that ride up, which was perfect. The ride out. And then Ed was doing The Office, so he was only here for two days and then he was gone– It was crazy, that first movie. And then we just sort of made it work on set. But then, having gone through Thailand together, and then we actually all wound up spending New Year’s together that year after we shot the movie, and then having to go through the promotion of it and having it be as successful as it has been, you sort of cling together, the three guys, against the storm of the success. And that’s a bonding experience in and of itself. The ride of the movie itself has bonded us.
How accurate were your very first impressions of everybody?
COOPER: Very accurate. These guys are pretty transparent. Yeah. In a good way! I mean, they are what you see, which is great.
Talk about how fun it is for you guys to see Ken Jeong and Mr. Chow’s character just explode over these past three movies. Yeah.
COOPER: It’s incredible. Yeah, I mean, he’s the favorite character. He’s unbelievable. And all the catchphrases that he created and– I don’t know, it’s amazing. And I know Ken, I did a movie with him before, and I love him, and it’s just wonderful what’s happened to him. Yeah. And everything outside of The Hangover. Community, and he hosts all these things– He’s always the emcee at stuff. And yeah, he’s great.
You mentioned living up to the success of the franchise, but on the other side of that, is there a certain level where, because it’s so successful, you can kind of relax and not have to worry if it’s going to appeal to a broad audience?
COOPER: No, because the only thing we really care about is making a movie that people will like and enjoy. So there’s always that pressure. Otherwise we wouldn’t do it. It’s too hard to make a movie if you don’t care about what happens to it, or even what the product is. I can’t even imagine that. It’s not worth the time and effort if you don’t care about the product.
COOPER: I think they rigged it. I think Zach and Ed bought it for me. Yeah, that’s what I think. They pulled, like–
COOPER: Yeah, very influential. Don’t underestimate the Wolfpack. Yeah. And we drew straws, who should be it from the Wolfpack. Yeah, and I lost.
Be sure to get caught up on all of our other coverage from the set visit of The Hangover Part III via the following links:
- 45 Things to Know About THE HANGOVER PART III from Our Set Visit
- Ken Jeong Talks THE HANGOVER PART III, His Evolving Career, Chow’s Relationship with the Wolfpack, Getting to Do More Action & More from Our Set Visit
- Zach Galifianakis Talks THE HANGOVER PART III, Alan’s Character Arc, Revisiting Alan’s Family, Wolfpack Character Relationships & More from Our Set Visit
- Ed Helms Talks THE HANGOVER PART III, Character Relationships, Location Shoots, Returning Characters, Concluding the Trilogy & More from Our Set Visit
- Writer Craig Mazin Talks THE HANGOVER PART III, Concluding the Trilogy, Where the Film Takes Place, Returning Characters & More from Our Set Visit
- Director Todd Phillips Talks THE HANGOVER PART III, How It’s Alan’s Story, Keeping a Dark But Realistic Tone, Shooting on Location & More from Our Set Visit
The Hangover Part III opens May 24th.