THE HANGOVER PART II On Set Interview with Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Director Todd Phillips

     May 3, 2011


For the set visit to The Hangover Part II, secrecy was critical. What we saw we were told not to write about until now, and what we were told was minimal. Though now the general premise and storyline has been outed by the trailer, when we came on all that was known was that the boys would be going to the Far East for their adventures.

When we went to the Warner Brothers lot, it was dressed as a shitty Thai apartment, where Ed Helms was running around in his underwear with a tattoo on his face, Zach Galifianakis had a shaved head, and Bradley Cooper was wrestling with a monkey. Even that was deemed too much new information. Check after the jump for more.

We sat by the monitors watching takes of the trio waking up to find hell had broken loose yet again. Accusations flew over whose fault it was, and then there was the monkey in the room. The Warner Brothers lot has long been my favorite studio lot, and the detail in the hallway we were in was impeccable. As the take played, there was a family atmosphere, as someone brought their baby to the set, and Todd Philips’s dog wandered about, free to go anywhere but in front of the camera.

the-hangover-part-2-movie-poster-01But the main note was that no one could say anything, and that carried over into our first interview with Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper. Check it out:

Do you feel like you’re raising the ante with the sequel?

Ed Helms: Rather than just raise the expectation bar and say we’re raising all the antes, I think there’s just some fun creative surprises and twists on people’s expectations.

Can you describe what you’re shooting?

Bradley Cooper: You’re coming in on the first day of us waking up, where the engine starts in the film. As you can see we have a new friend (he’s referring to Crystal the monkey)

Helms: And we’re in a slightly less opulent setting.

Cooper: The exact opposite of where we woke up two years earlier.

Can you tell us how you got in that state?

Cooper: Absolutely not.

Helms: How we got in Thailand? I don’t think we can give a specific reason…

Cooper: A plane.

Helms: I’ll say we have a very legitimate reason to go to Thailand.

Hangover_2_The_Hangover_Part_2_posterI thought maybe you didn’t know how you got to Thailand.

Cooper: Well, we woke up in a place and we didn’t know how we got there, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t know we were in Thailand.

Are you again separated from Justin Bartha’s character?

Cooper: That we cannot say.

Helms: The power of No.

And Ken Jeong is back.

Helms: Yes, the fabulous Mr. Chow will be returning.

Does he get naked again, does anyone get naked?

Helms: More than this? (Helms is wearing underwear and a robe) I’ve got to keep the ladies interested. I take these off, the ladies aren’t so interested. Let’s just say “Check your expectations at the door, ladies and gentleman.” I hate that phrase, but it kind of applies.

Cooper: I can’t say if Mr. Chow gets naked, but I can definitely say the four of us are in it, and there are returning characters.

Helms: I am looking forward to a terrible heat stroke and parasites in Thailand.

Cooper: All of the above, yes.

Helms: I’ve been to Indonesia, but I’ve never been to Thailand. I hear the people are lovely, the food is delicious, and that the heat and humidity are lethal. So, we’ll see. I expect to lose a lot of weight and get a great tan.

How long are you going to be there?

Helms: Two months.

Can you talk about the success of the first film, and what you’re looking forward to in this new one?

Cooper: We’re looking forward to what you’re watching right now, us back together again. Warner Brothers wanted to make a sequel before the first film came out. So it was planted in our mind before the first film was even released. It’s been with us a long time, and we were hoping it would do well so they would follow through with that. But their interest started when they saw what was happening. Of course we couldn’t anticipate it becoming what it was, but one thing I will say that we’d sit there in Caesar’s Palace eating dinner after shooting and say “hey, this is pretty good, and this is kind of different.”the-hangover-2-movie-image

Helms: You can never predict that kind of response to a movie but we were all confident that we were making something that we liked. And that we thought was funny, and if other people did too that’s all the better. I can honestly say we’re a couple weeks in on this one, and I feel the same way. I’m laughing a lot.

Cooper: Yeah.

Are there talks of a third one already?

Helms: Actually we’re already talking about the fourth and fifth one. We skipped the third one. But, not to my knowledge until now, until you brought it up.

Did you guys have any input as the script for this was being developed?

Cooper:Yeah, Todd (Phillips) was very inclusive in allowing us to help form it as it was going on. So the evolution of the second script was much different than the first, but the first was a collaboration as well.

Helms: Yeah, even once we’re in production it’s always shifting and getting shaped.

Cooper:It’s an organic process for sure, and it changes on the day.

How does working with a monkey compare with working with a tiger?

Hangover_2_The_Hangover_Part_2_posterCooper:More dangerous.

Helms: With the tiger you’re always on edge, and you always have to keep your distance. The monkey is far less threatening so you’re more relaxed around the monkey, and I think that’s actually hazardous.

Cooper:We did get a little too comfortable with the tiger. It started by saying “keep a hundred and fifty feet away” and by the end she was walking thought craft services.

Helms: The monkey – actually Crystal is her name –she’s so beautiful and adorable and well trained.

Is she going with you to Thailand?

Cooper:Crystal is the monkey.

Helms: If we can get the visa worked out.

Who requires more takes, Crystal or Zach Galifianakis?

Cooper:That’s a question for Zach.

How much time has passed since the last film?

Helms: It’s not really addressed, but I think it’s implied that we’re in a real timeline, in other words, the time between the movies is the same time that’s passed in the film.

They went back to have a another round of takes and then we were joined by Todd Phillips, and the wolf pack – Zach Galifianakis, Helms and Cooper. Take a look:

So, the scene that we just saw looks similar to the beginning of the first film. Would you say that’s right?

Todd Phillips: No. In what, in tone?

In terms of waking up and not knowing where they are –

Phillips: I see, yeah, that’s the interpretation. You are here for a pivotal moment in Hangover II.

Can you talk about the set here that we’re in? We know that we’re in Bangkok, but is it an industrial building?

Phillips: Yeah. This is kind of a run down hotel in Bangkok, in the Chinatown district of Bangkok that they end up waking up in. They came here the night before, late in the night just to sort of crash. Mr. Chow plays a role in this movie. He’s an important reason for why they’re here in this place. So it kind of all gets explained. I know it’s so hard to do these interviews ahead of time, and I know these guys have a hard time with it, too, because so much of comedy is about surprises. So it’s not like we’re trying to guard it like it’s some national secret, but we are trying to maintain the fun and surprise of the original Hangover. So it’s a little difficult to answer specific questions just because so much of the magic of the first film is in the surprise.

Is that something that you’ve had a harder time with this on this film? Have you ever had a film you’ve done where you’ve had to deal with that, keeping that level of anticipation?

Phillips: Well, personally, no. For me, this is my first sequel and The Hangover was such a big hit worldwide, so of course this is the first time that I’ve run into wanting to keep a lid on something. In a weird way, for comedies it almost means more than for other films because so much of what makes something funny is Mr. Chow jumping out of the trunk in the first film and then you write about it and talk about it beforehand it just takes a little bit of a magic away.

Would you call this an escalation of the story from the first film or is it in the same zone?

Phillips: I think everything is a little bit amplified. It still feels real, and that’s always a goal for me with all the comedies that I do. But I think it’s amplified just in the stakes, in what’s at stake and it’s probably amplified in the situations.

Zach, how is the shaved head treating you?

Zach Galifianakis: Uh, well –

Phillips: They look at me before they answer.

Can you tell us who shaved it off?

Galifianakis: No. Oh, you mean within the context of the film?


Galifianakis: No.

Is that something that you’re going to have to hide, or are you hiding it now when you go out?

Galifianakis: I don’t think there’s anybody bugging me in public about this.

Phillips: But it’s a good question.

Galifianakis: But it is a good question.

Phillips: In fairness he’s about to do a little bit of junket press for Due Date and it’s something that we don’t want to necessarily want to reveal on the press for Due Date. So we have a wig because there’s a wig in the movie because we have to shoot out of order. So, most of the time we’d rather him be seen with a wig. It’s one of those things.

Helms: So, now that’s out of the bag.

Phillips: But it’s not because these people have all agreed.

But there will just be a rumor that you’re wearing a wig –

Phillips: This will come later when there are teasers released, the trailers and then this stuff will be on the internet.

Helms: That’s why I was so guarded before.

Is this the first time you’ve had to do an interview in your underpants?

Helms: Ah, no. No. You guys should all know this. Whenever we’re doing phoners, I’m always in my underpants.

Do you get comfortable wearing them in public like this?

Helms: I’ve been walking around in my underpants all day. You’re a much smaller audience than hopefully this movie will ultimately find. Why should I be bashful?

What are you most looking forward to in shooting in Thailand and what are you most dreading?

Galifianakis: For a moment I thought you asked “what are you most looking forward to about shitting in Thailand?” I don’t know. Just going to an exotic place is going to be fun, especially with this movie and this cast. Todd has found a place where danger exists and so I think that element really helps the movie.

The Hangover Part II image The Hangover 2 imageCooper: So much of the first one was Vegas as a setting and that really informed us, especially while making it, while doing it. So that’s why I can’t wait to get to Bangkok. I think as much as Vegas played a part, I think that Bangkok will supersede that in the character it plays in the movie.

Helms: What’s funny is that going to Vegas, shooting the first movie there, we all know Vegas and have associations and kind of know what the expectations are in terms of how people behave in Vegas and how people behave kind of badly in Vegas. In Thailand, or in Bangkok, it’s kind of new and exciting, to me at least. I’ve never been there. So, I guess we’ll just be sort of discovering how the city of Bangkok is.

Cooper:And geographically it’s far.

Phillips: Yeah. I think you’re going to feel that in the movie, too, which is the actors flying without a safety net. I think what Ed just said, there’s some element of excitement that comes with these three guys when you see them walking down the street in Bangkok and you know they’re kind of out there without a safety net. So that’s something else that Bangkok adds to the idea of The Hangover.

Are you going to have some surprise cameos like Mike Tyson in the first one?

Phillips: Yeah, we have some. Those we’d definitely want to keep tight lipped for now, but we do have some fun things, one or two fun parts that I think people will get a kick out.

Hangover_2_The_Hangover_Part_2_posterWhat about the baby? Is he coming back?

Phillips: Oh, no, no. The baby died. Just kidding – but the baby does not play a role in Hangover II.

People kind of know what to expect with a bachelor party in Vegas. Do you think audiences will have a hard time relating to Thailand?

Phillips: Again, it’s Bangkok. I don’t think most people have lived Vegas the same way that these guys had lived Vegas in The Hangover. So I think that’s actually what audiences look forward to, kind of what you’re talking about. I don’t think they’re looking for a safety blanket when they watch The Hangover. I think that’s actually going to add to the movie in a big way.

What have you guys been warned about in terms of going to Bangkok?

Phillips: Well, I’ve been there now like three times. I’ve been there a bunch. These guys haven’t. I’m excited for them to get there and for us to start shooting, but there’s nothing we’ve been warned about. Really, what it boils down to is that when you say the word Las Vegas it means something. When we talked about doing the sequel to Hangover and we talked about a location I wanted to find a city where the world meant something. you could say New York City and it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s a very varied, kind of spread out city as far as culturally and all these other things. When you say a word like Bangkok, in my mind it means something. There’s not a lot of cities where the world literally brings a picture to your mind.

How dark and sort of adult do you plan on getting, even more so than the first one? You think Bangkok, you think sexual predators maybe. It’s ripe for pretty edgy stuff.

Phillips: It’s still an R rated studio comedy. We’re not making Apocalypse Now, but just like the first one, a lot of the comedy came from some of the darker and more twisted and fucked up situations. So we’re not shying away from it, but it’s not going to be intentionally so much darker. Don’t let this set fool you.

After that we were whisked away, though we did get to have lunch with Crystal the monkey. The Hangover Part II opens May 26. And only then will the film’s secrets be revealed.


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