For The Hangover Justin Bartha’s Doug was the impetus for the story, but he spent much of the movie sidelined as his disappearance fueled the story. For the sequel, The Hangover Part II, Bartha returns as Doug and from his own words has a bit more to do this time out. We got a chance to talk to him as the movie was filming – he wasn’t on set the day we visited, and he talked about his character in the film, The Hangover’s cultural resonance and what it’s like to return to a character. Check out our interview after the jump.
JUSTIN BARTHA: I can’t tell you much more than you already know, what I can tell you is this, I don’t think people want to know much about this movie, honestly. I think the reason the first film worked so well was because there was an element of surprise and freshness, and I think people want to be surprised by this movie, and we already have stuff going against us, because the press is already interested in the process of making the movie, so I think leaving as much to the day of is only for the benefit of the audience.
Have you read the whole script?
BARTHA: I have, and I know everything.
As per the surprise, what do you think of the cameos being announced? Do you feel watched.
BARTHA: Not really, none of it really means anything, it all goes away, on to next the story.
Can you say how much you’re involved this time? Can you tell us the set up?
BARTHA: It’s all the guys going away for a wedding weekend, and what happens after that is left to be seen, but it is all the guys going to Thailand and Bangkok, and everything that could possible go wrong in Bangkok does go wrong.
BARTHA: Doug is a little more active this time, and he’s the straight man, and in The Hangover he may not be there all the time, but Doug is going to be there a little more.
Between this and National Treasure, you’ve gotten to return to characters, do you like going back?
BARTHA: Depends on the character. National Treasure is a big huge adventure movie, and the character is more comedic, he’s a specific character that is quite a bit of fun to play. The guy in The Hangover is different, he’s the straight man, and that’s what interested me – if I could do it – playing the straight man is its own challenge.
Does that give you more respect for Nicholas Cage? How do you look at it now that you’ve been comic relief and the straight man?
BARTHA: Well, Nicholas Cage, one thing that’s wonderful about him, is that he’s never the straight man – even when he’s the straight man he’s never actually straight and that serves his characters well. In the first The Hangover what I found interesting is that Doug is the glue that binds the group and once he’s not there all hell breaks loose, and I thought there was something interesting about being the connective tissue, and it serves the story. So when it came to making the sequel, it has to play the same way, but it’s not the same plot point, they’re not losing me again. It has very specific challenges. It’s always interesting to revisit a character, you never know you’ll get that.
BARTHA: Yeah, but you have to know what you’re there to do, you have a certain service to play in the film, and it’s written so that the characters serve each other. And that’s why the film works because the pieces fit. So you’re playing a guy who isn’t out there like the other guys. So yes, you do sometimes have to hold back, but I’m there to serve the director and the story, and I have complete faith in the people I work with. Todd (Phillips) is one of the best out there.
Now that you’ve done a couple sequels, do you feel that you fall into it a little easier?
BARTHA: There’s always an awareness. But both National Treasure and The Hangover are beloved movies. This one is otherworldly, it transcends pop culture, and National Treasure has a similar effect. Families all over the world love that movie. So there’s a pressure to make it fresh and different, and not just do a rehash of the first one, and do it better, and improve on it. Todd Phillips always was sensitive to that, he always wanted to make a better movie, and it is a better movie. It’s going to be great.
What do you get recognized for most?
BARTHA: Both. It depends on the situation, The Hangover people feel like they’re really a part of it, because there’s an inclusive quality to the guys. People love the wolf pack.
BARTHA: It’s a lot of people screaming out on the streets “I’ve found Doug, motherfucker!”
I guess that’s not a bad thing to be remembered for.
BARTHA: I’m incredibly proud of it, I’m very lucky.
Now that you have two franchises, how is that in comparison to after Gigli came out? Was there a panic after that film achieved infamy?
BARTHA: There’s a panic after every movie, it could be a huge hit, that’s just the kind of person I am. But it’s a totally different thing. It’s always nice to have people love the things that you do. But it’s a lot of hard work, and people are always passionate, if it’s family fare or a drama, it’s the same amount of work and people invest everything into that, and when it doesn’t come out the way you want it to, of course it’s hurtful.
The funny thing is I know someone whose cousin’s favorite movie is Adventures of Pluto Nash, so you never know what’s going to work on an audience.
BARTHA: You never know, everyone has a different point of view and taste, and it’s all subjective. I have yet to meet a person whose favorite movie is Gigli, but I hope to meet them one day and give them a hug.
The Hangover Part II hits theaters May 26.