Life has three certainties: death, taxes and massively successful films getting a sequel. Therefore, it was no surprise that director Todd Phillips was asked to make The Hangover Part II. After all, 2009’s The Hangover not only reset the bar for gross-out comedy, but it was also a film that cost a relatively meagre £21m to produce, yet made more than £285m at the box office.
The new film sees the Wolfpack ride again, with Alan, Stu and Phil (otherwise known as Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper) reuniting for what is the most anticipated — and carefully protected — comedy of the year. We spoke to all three. It went well...
Zach Galifianakis: “I had a beard aged five”
Galifianakis is first up. He’s perched cross-legged on a chair opposite us, sporting woollen socks that are far too thick for the Santa Monica sunshine outside, and notably shorter hair than in the original film. The haircut is explained as a battle scar from making the most anticipated comedy of the year; the socks remain a mystery…
You’re back with Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms for the new film. Are you worried about being typecast as the eye candy?
You mean I love candy? I don’t have to worry about that. You know I gain weight for these things to make myself look bad. I can make myself look better than precious over there [points at a photo of Cooper]. You’ve got to see my early stuff.
The plot involves Stu’s ‘bachelor brunch’ in Thailand, a drug-dealing monkey, a tattoo, your shaved head, more Mr Chow, more Mike Tyson and the disappearance of Stu’s fiancée’s brother. What can’t you tell us about it?
I can’t tell you most of it. What I can tell you is that there are some crazy high jinks [laughs]. It’s not in 3D. I can say that. It’s in two dimensions — and I’m not just talking about Bradley’s acting. And it’s the same characters. That’s a pretty good explanation, if you ask me.
It’s set in Bangkok, a city you describe as “unboring”…
It’s the most unboring place.
What’s unboring about it?
Bangkok has a constant energy. Even if you lock yourself into your hotel room, you still feel this massive energy. You know that you can walk 10 minutes and be in a massage place of questionable nature.
Did you go to a ping-pong show?
Did you get hit by the ball?
No, but I held the balloon for the dart.
Is it true that you managed to get Mel Gibson kicked off the film [in October 2010, Gibson was dropped from the film when recordings of him apparently threatening his girlfriend were made public]?
No, that’s not true. It’s just one of those internet things. It’s frustrating because I kind of said that I wasn’t going to talk about it. But I will probably talk about it one of these days and it’ll be super boring when people know what really happened.
Some people would point to [convicted rapist] Mike Tyson being there…
Yeah — people have sent me angry emails about that comparison [with Gibson]. I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t know what to say. People don’t know the whole truth and they just assume all of these things. I’ve always said that the internet was invented for shy people to [be able to] be assholes. It’s amazing, human nature, the way people want to rip. I don’t mind being ripped to my face — I used to do stand-up shows. But now there’s this instant online criticism. I don’t do the Twitter stuff and all of that, but my brother loves to send me negative things [laughs].
When did you first realise that you were different to other children?
I was exceptionally good-looking — that’s when I knew I was different. And also because I had a beard at the age of five.
I actually meant the gift of comedy…
Oh, that thing! That’s just the way my family communicated. I used to do the ‘robot’ — is that what you call it? — for tips at family reunions. So I was kind of like this little monkey thing, but a real quiet monkey, not, “Hey, look at me!” Then, slowly, the robot turned into doing skits with my brother and sister about the Iran-Contra affair. “Why is he still doing a robot in this sketch?”
It’s a natural segue. I think Reagan had robots. Do you ever abuse your fame?
No, I don’t even have fun with it. I’m not even kidding — it’s not fun. It sucks. People ask me for money all of the time [laughs]. You get requests from family members and friends. A second cousin of mine, at my grandfather’s funeral, he brings me this picture and says, “I want to show you something. It’s my dog.” And he had put
a captain’s hat on his dog, and he was like, “Can you get my dog in the movies?” We’re at a funeral.
Why would the hat make a difference?
Because he wanted to show me the dog’s range. He can do anything you want — chef’s hat…
You came to the public’s attention interviewing celebrities on [Galifianakis’s internet chatshow] Between Two Ferns. Do you judge others when they interview you?
I don’t, because I know that it’s difficult. The thing that I mock is the sycophantic thing that I see Entertainment Tonight do, or whatever those over-the-top Hollywood-y type things are. It’s so dishonest and disgusting. If you watch early David Letterman, he was always rude to his guests. It’s just funny to be rude, right? Who gives a sh*t about you being nice? It’s like that Ellen [DeGeneres] show. Goddamn! Is everybody wonderful? No, most people suck.
You can do that on TV because they can’t escape, but if I was hugely abusive to you, you could just leave.
That’s a good point, but it doesn’t have to be so saccharine. All these talk shows, it’s hardly interesting because it’s not that real. It’s all about promotion of a movie. Johnny Carson used to have guys on that weren’t celebrities. He’d have old ladies on that liked to drink whisky. I think that’s a better guest than Mario Perez or… Who am
I thinking of? I don’t even know. I’ll try to think of some jerk-off actor. Just put someone in there. Bradley Cooper.
Back to the sex appeal — January Jones recently told us that you were the most naturally funny man she’d ever met. Would you ever consider making a move? She likes funny men…
That’s really funny because, if I remember correctly, she and I were very rude to each other. It was crazy. I was at a party — I’d never met her — and she was like, “Come sit down.” So I sit at her table and talk for 10 minutes, and she goes, “I think it’s time for you to leave now.” So I say, “January, you are an actress in a show and everybody’s going to forget about you in a few years, so f*cking be nice,” and I got up and left. And she thinks that’s funny?
If a script really demanded it, would you do a sex scene with her?
I wouldn’t want to. I’d hate it. I’ve only had to do a few of those things where you have to kiss and stuff. It’s so embarrassing.
In the photo stills at the end of The Hangover, you get a special ‘downstairs’ kiss…
Oh yeah, the ‘downstairs’ kiss [laughs]. That was embarrassing. I tried to pay Todd’s [Phillips, The Hangover director] assistant $1,000 to persuade him to take that out of the movie. That lady who was giving the ‘downstairs’ kiss, I was like, “Ma’am, I’m so sorry.”
Would you like to do something really serious and Daniel Day-Lewis-y?
Yes I goddamn would. But I think I’d just get laughed at. I got up to give a speech at my sister’s wedding and at my brother’s wedding. These were two separate weddings. At both weddings I started crying and at both weddings people started laughing at me. Laughing at me crying. But to answer your question, yes, I would really love to do that. I would love to do my serious courtroom speech and then just fart. That’s my fantasy.
A remake of To Kill A Mockingbird?
If I were a billionaire, I would do stuff like that. I had a talk show [2002’s Late Show With Zach]. We had this actor come in and we were like, “Let’s just put one person in the audience and act as if nobody wants
to come to our show.” The actor got so p*ssed. The interview had happened and we had the laugh-track of a six-year-old girl. It was the creepiest thing, it was the greatest thing.
Who was the actor?
His name is… He did a movie. He’s Jewish. And I want to say his name’s… Adam. I don’t know his name. He was so p*ssed, and then I saw him years later and he was like, “I got what you were doing.” And I was like, “Oh, you did? I don’t know what we were doing.”
Finally, can you tell me something you’ve never told anyone in an interview before?
Oh, that’s good. Something I’ve never said… Oh yeah. There’s this thing with
Ed Helms: “I’M THE DORKY PUNCHBAG”
In The Hangover, Ed Helms’ character Stu wakes up missing a tooth and married to a stripper. For any man, this would be a predicament, but for the lovable-yet-super-sensible nerd that is Stu, it was akin to a fish suddenly finding itself on a particularly dry rock in the middle of the Sahara desert.
Helms, though, was no gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate out of water in the role. In the US version of The Office, he plays the likable-yet-super-sensible nerd with a love of operetta, Andy. In Cedar Rapids, he plays the… You get the idea. And it’s an image, it seems, that he’s more than happy to play up to.
Are you worried about being typecast as the dork?
I love it, bring it on. Give me more work.
What’s your dorkiest quality?
I don’t even know where to start. I love to play with radio-controlled helicopters. I love to play the banjo — I’ve been playing banjo for 20 years and I’m very passionate about it. I love to watch nature documentaries.
What can you tell us about The Hangover Part II?
Basically nothing, other than the fact that it’s insane.
You lost a tooth in the first film. Does your character come in for more physical punishment?
Well, let’s see. I’m certainly going to be very conscious about spoilers. But I’ll just say that Stu is kind of a punchbag, in a really fun way.
Losing that tooth wasn’t CGI, was it?
Not at all. I have an implant there, a tooth implant, and my dentist was able to extract the tooth for two months while we were shooting, then put it back in.
Was it painful?
Not particularly. It wasn’t this major surgical procedure, or anything. The implant stays in the bone, and they just sort of unscrew it.
Is it true that you lost your baby tooth and the adult one didn’t grow?
That’s correct. Once the baby tooth was gone, I basically spent my whole adolescence without a tooth there, which was very awkward.
Is there anything else that hasn’t grown in adulthood?
[Laughs] I don’t have a penis, if that’s what you’re getting at. It just never grew. I had my baby penis and that fell off.
Filming in Bangkok, did you find yourself thinking that a woman was quite attractive before realising that she maybe wasn’t a woman?
Absolutely. That happened numerous times. The lady-boys are considered the third gender in Thailand because they’re everywhere. You might be dealing with someone in a department store, or with an accountant, and it turns out that they’re a lady-boy. Often they care more about their appearance than the average woman and they can be a total knockout. Then you find out because someone tells you, or worse, and it’s, like, “Wow.”
Zach describes Bangkok as “unboring”. What was the most unboring experience for you?
God, where do I even start? When I first got there I was very cocky about my constitution and I was like, “I’ll eat anything.” As long as I’m not afraid of it, it can’t hurt me. So I got a little cavalier and instantly got sicker than I’d ever been in my life, just eating some street food. That was really unnerving, because when you get that sick that far from home you go to some really dark, scary places.
You’re in the US version of The Office. Who’d be your dream replacement for the recently departed Steve Carell [the show’s ‘David Brent’, Michael Scott]?
My dream is that this incredible ensemble cast gets celebrated more than any one person swooping in to fill the void.
What if you could pluck a celebrity from the past to come in?
Let’s see… Who would be amazing…? Maybe Chevy Chase circa 1985.
You’re quite downtrodden in The Hangover. Do you get guys coming up to you and telling you about their abusive girlfriends?
Oh, God, I would feel really sorry for anyone who had a real girlfriend that crazy. But no, it’s more about how crazy the Wolfpack is. Everyone wants to tell you their stories — “Oh, we had a crazy night in Vegas and my friend married a stripper.”
There are young versions of you all in the film. With hindsight, what advice would old Ed give to young Ed?
I would say that night at that party in summer at high school, you should really try to stay sober, and that you’re a good person [laughs]. “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, hang in there.”
“Don’t hate yourself.”
Exactly. “Girls don’t think that you’re a troll.” That’s probably the thing I would try to beat into a young Ed.
Bradley Cooper: “I WISH I LOOKED LIKE ZACH”
For scientists, who long believed that it was impossible to be both good-looking and funny, seeing Bradley Cooper for the first time would’ve been like Darwin discovering a fish that looked like a monkey, or whatever he did.
As Phil in The Hangover, Cooper — so darned aesthetically pleasing that he was chosen to play the hallowed role of Face in The A-Team — not only made us laugh, but also managed to convince us that we, too, could look good if we didn’t shower and spent the whole day wearing a suit we’d slept in. And we didn’t even hate him for it.
So, Bangkok. Zach mentioned something about ping-pong balls, darts and balloons…
That was specific to him. He kept wanting to play with those things and I didn’t want to come up to his room.
The three of you must have bonded quite a bit over the two films.
Yeah, very much. For me, I have to back off a bit about how much I love those guys.
Who do you like best out of Zach and Ed?
Oh, definitely Ed.
Do you see yourself as the cool, good-looking one?
God, no. If anyone is the cool one it’s Zach.
Do you ever wish that you were as good-looking as him?
Oh, yeah, he’s got the face of an angel.
You had a lot of funny guys on one set. Did it ever get competitive?
Not even a little bit. There was zero competitiveness — absolutely none. If there was an ounce of it in the first movie — and it was more out of fear and trying to do well — that was completely gone this time. We would finish each other’s sentences. Ed would say, “Bradley, why don’t you say this, as Phil?” and I’d say, “Zachy, why don’t you do this?” It was like talking to your brother. You hate that answer, don’t you? You’re like, “Yeah, OK, I’ll just make something up.”
So, is Mike Tyson funny?
He’s very funny, yeah, and he’s actually very good in this second film too. I’ve got to tell you, I really think that this could be a great movie. I’m so excited about it. Being able to work with Todd Phillips right now is like being Scottie Pippen on the Chicago Bulls when Michael Jordan was in his prime.
The first film raised everyone’s profile enormously. Did you all come back with diva-ish habits?
Not really. I found it odd that Zach would have a beard-trimmer with him all the time. I didn’t like the way he treated her…
You had a tiger in the first film and now you’ve got a monkey in the second.
Yeah, a drug-dealing monkey, which may steal the whole movie.
Are you still in touch with the monkey?
It’s been a couple of days. We text each other. She’s a hell of a texter.
She can use her feet as well.
Yeah, opposable thumbs.
Did the monkey have a best friend among you?
I’d like to say that I was, but I could be delusional there. In my mind we had a real connection.
Did she bully anyone?
She bullied everybody — she owned the set — but she had ways of making you fall in love with her. She could do what she wanted. Make no mistake about it, when Crystal showed up on set, it was Crystal’s set.
That’s her real name, I assume?
Yeah, but she played a guy. She played a male monkey.
That’s versatility. Were there any ‘Christian Bale’ moments on set?
You know what? It was the hardest shoot I’ve ever done, by far. I mean, The A-Team we shot for six months, I tore my hamstring, I ate nothing but pears and tuna — and yet this one was by far the hardest shoot ever, and I don’t know why. I can’t put my finger on it. There weren’t blow-ups, but there was a definite sense, a tone and energy of just… It was like walking through mud in a lot of ways.
Have you heard of any copycat weekends that have gone disastrously wrong?
No, but they had ads in Vegas for ‘The Hangover Package’, and I’d be curious to see what was on the itinerary. Did they somehow wrangle a tiger? I’m just wondering how they were selling it.
Do you think that you’re going to have to apologise to the people of Bangkok for the flood of western stag parties that are bound to follow the film?
I think we’ll have to say “you’re welcome” for all of the revenue that they will bring in…
The Hangover Part II is at cinemas nationwide from 26 May