Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis & Ed Helms in Warner Bros. Pictures' 'The Hangover Part III'
As we watched, and cameras rolled for the better part of a full work day, Cooper wrestled said rooster, avoided a slew of actual chickens, and took more falls than a professional wrestler, even cracking his head good once or twice. All in a day's work on "The Hangover Part III" set.
Cooper (who plays Phil), wasn't the only forgetful "Hangover" vet we found clucking it up on Todd Phillips' set, which we visited late last year on day 42 of a 60 day shoot. Joining Cooper on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California were fellow Wolf Packers Zach Galifianakis (Alan) and Ed Helms (Stu), as well as the biggest trouble-maker of them all, Ken Jeong (Chow). The scene in question takes place two years after "Hangover 2," at Chow's flophouse in Tijuana, where the nefariously naked criminal has gotten into cockfighting.
As Phillips caught the scene from every possible angle, we caught up with the Wolf Packers, Jeong, screenwriter Craig Mazin, and even the busy director himself. The tight-knit group took some time out to answer our questions (as well as those from a few other select media outlets) and gave us, and consequently you, an awfully good feel for what to expect from the third installment of the blockbuster comedy franchise. Here's a hint: "a descent into madness."
"The Hangover Part III" opens wide May 24.
On the scene we witnessed:
Jeong: "It's like, 'Chow' and 'cockfighting.' I think that pretty much-- You go from point A to B, and what you see will be-- You know, it's Chow and cockfighting."
Cooper: "The chickens are difficult. They have crazy hours."
Helms: "There was one, that third take, I think, where there were four chickens descending on me. And I watched playback and I definitely had a little Hitchcock recollection there. But yeah, that's fine. I'm a little scratched up, too, but that's all right."
Phillips: "Yeah, this scene takes place in-- This is retarded, but it'll cut together. You'll see."
Ken Jeong as Mr. Chow in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ comedy 'The Hangover Part III'
On this being the final "Hangover":
Phillips: "It does feel like the story that we're telling ends here. Because it feels like the one thing that was unanswered in those movies was, how is this guy going to turn out? Meaning Alan [Galifianakis]. How is he going to be okay?"
Mazin: "What was unfinished business and what needed to be fixed and solved for these three people to move on with their lives? So that's really what we started with. It was kind of scary, because we could have done anything, really, and sometimes that's the scariest thing of all."
Cooper: "The fact that this is the last one, everybody's really enjoying it, I think, soaking up each day."
Galifianakis: "Yeah, it is an end to it, and it's kind of a sweet ending. It's not as-- And I mean that overall. The whole thing, it's been fun to work on, and the ending, I think, will be satisfying to those that really like these movies because there's just a lot of good jokes."
Helms: "This is actually a really interesting and exciting year for me, because both The Office and The Hangover are wrapping up. And I actually feel an incredible amount of pride in both of those things, and also in the way that they're ending. I think they're both-- I don't know, we're kind of going out with a bang, and in a way that is, I think, exciting for fans, but also exciting for us and respectful of the franchise. I don't feel like we're cheapening it in any way, or taking the easy way out. It's actually a really fun and elegant ending, in a way. And I feel the same way about The Office."
Mazin: "Todd, I think, very smartly, wanted to make a third movie that wasn't just the last movie, but was absolutely the last movie. 'Let's finish it.' And I think that's important, to truly end it. And so we really worked towards a proper finish, a satisfying finish."
On the way the franchise has bonded them:
Cooper: "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."
Phillips: "Zach got [Oscar] nominated, I think, for 'Out Cold', didn't he? I take shots at Zach whenever I can."
Galifianakis: "Todd gets a pass from me because he's really funny in his insults. So as long as he stays funny with his insults, not just insults, then everything's fine. We do make each other laugh, we do have that thing that we-- We do have a very similar sense of humor."
Cooper: "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."
Jeong: " I just love the secondhand that we have. We just have a shorthand. We just know each other so well now."
Cooper: "Having gone through Thailand together, and then we actually all wound up spending New Year's together that year after we shot the movie [part 2], 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."
Jeong: " I'm constantly being stimulated just to improve and to really do the best I can every single frame, every single take. And that's all you can ask for as an actor, is just people who you trust and who you love, and they're pushing you to be the best you can be."
Cooper: "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."
Ed Helms as Stu in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ comedy 'The Hangover Part III'
On what makes this "Hangover" different:
Phillips: "It's not a hangover, it's not a missing night. There's no drinking in the movie, or excessive drinking, I should say. It just takes a totally different turn, and it catches the guys two years after the last movie and where they are in their lives. And it's kind of a movie about a crisis. Alan, his own personal crisis, is probably the best way to describe it."
Galifianakis: "Well, I think in all the movies, the character Alan is the catalyst for things to go wrong. And this movie is Alan coping with the things that he's done wrong and coming to grips with that. So there's the other side of it, not just the mishaps of the character, it's also him trying to improve himself, which is kind of fun to do." "In a way, it is Alan's awakening."
Mazin: "We let character really drive it, and Alan's character, in particular. I mean, if you think about it, he's a deeply disturbed person and he needs help, and this movie is going to attempt to help him."
Cooper: "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."
Helms: "Yeah, well, that is a really cool thing about this movie, is that there are ways that both of the first two movies weave into a narrative that you didn't see coming… It pulls things from One and Two that you didn't know may have been part of a larger narrative, but actually, in Three, it is, and it's really cool and surprising."
Jeong: "I just can't even believe they're giving Chow so much depth, and I love it. Honestly, this is everything I ever wanted. Everything I ever wanted is in this movie. That's about as blunt as I can put it. This is just one of the happiest moments of my career."
Phillips: "It kind of completes a circle, where people appear that you go, 'Oh, that's who that was. Oh, I see.' It's that kind of thing. Which is a fun thing for us to write and it was a fun thing to figure out."
Mazin: "There's some unfinished business, it turns out. Something that happened in the first movie that none of you picked up on, but we know about, and you'll see what we mean."
Helms: "Some old cast members are revisited. The demons are always there. The demons just sort of come out in surprising and fun different ways."
Mazin: "It will be quite different. This movie is a bit of a chase movie. Mr. Chow is out there somewhere and needs to be found. It's a little bit of a heist movie, it's a little bit of a road trip, and it's a little bit of a coming-of-age story, quite frankly. There's quite a few genres all smashed into one. But I suppose, at this point, given the success of 'The Hangover' and 'The Hangover Part Two,' it's the 'Hangover' genre."
Phillips: "All my movies, as I get the ability to do it, they tend to go a little darker, a little darker. And this movie-- Funnily enough, there's a line in this scene that we shot yesterday, which I turned to Dan Goldberg, my producing partner, and I said, 'That's the tagline for the movie.' Which is when Chow turns and he goes, (imitating Chow) 'And then, everything went black.' Everything Went Black is also the title of a Black Flag album, but it's also a great tagline for this movie in a weird way. Because 'everything went black' makes you think, 'Oh, is it another blackout?' No, no, no. It just got very dark."
Mazin: "Death is in the air. There is death in this movie. I will tell you, people die. I will say that. Not everybody lives."
Random non sequiturs:
Galifianakis: "I haven't paid for a movie since 'Yentl'."
Mazin: "Alan's family life is endlessly fascinating to us. There's quite an interesting thing that happens in Alan's family in this one. And there's some terrific scenes early on, particularly, in the movie. But it's one of those things where-- Obviously at some point the movie has to start. You can't-- There's a nice sitcom, I suppose, to be had of Alan's house. (imitating announcer) 'Alan's House, this fall.'"
Galifianakis: "In my mind, [Alan] was a disc jockey, he was a DJ at raves, and he took a lot of ecstasy in his twenties and he just made his mind blank."
Helms: "I think Stu would be perfectly happy to be boring. But it wouldn't make a very good movie."
Galifianakis: "No matter what you do for a living, if you work in a bakery or a HoneyBaked Ham store-- Sorry, I'm so hungry. HoneyBaked cupcakes would be a good idea."
Jeong: "The jumping out naked in the trunk was my idea."
Phillips: "I don't feel like we've spent too much time with them. I love being able to explore Alan, Chow and Bradley deeper in these things. It's what they get away with in television. It's why we love shows on HBO that are-- You're getting more into it and more into it."
Galifianakis: "What I have on now is probably the tamest of the outfits. But I know why I'm wearing horizontal stripes. Because it makes you look fatter. And I know Todd was disappointed because I'd lost some weight. And I haven't talked to him about this, but I know that's why he put horizontal stripes on me. I'm not an idiot."
Jeong: "That's the beauty of Todd Phillips. His movies are roller coaster rides, and he's so great and adept at really keeping everything grounded in reality at the beginning and then-- I look at it like when you're going up a rollercoaster, you're looking at the trees, you're looking at everything that's normal and naturalistic, and then boom! Descent into madness. And all three of these movies just really encapsulate that for me, so it's just great."
Watch "The Hangover Part III" theatrical trailer...
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