“The Hangover” turned Bradley Cooper into a star. And as we sit here, on the set of “The Hangover Part III”, discussing the return of ‘The Wolfpack, it’s clear he’s appreciative of how much the movie – and it’s sequels – have done for his career.
Okay, so tell us how is your character developing in this last movie?
Hmm… Actually, I think that Phil serves as one of the pillars, to be sort of the backboard for the character of Alan and Stu. So I’m not sure how much Phil changes, he’s kind of the ‘go-to’ guy for certain things.
Could you talk about the scene that you just did? With holding the bunch of sheets?
The sheets? Yeah, those are sheets. Alan is holding sheets, we’re in an elevator in the bowels of Caesars Casino. And I think if I said anything else, I’d be shot.
What’s it like returning to Vegas? ‘Cause you guys have been to these exotic locations, but it’s like full-circle.
Yeah. Oh, it’s crazy. We were here four years ago, and to the day. We were shooting– I remember the Tuesday we were shooting in the Election Two-thousand-and-eight. We were doing the hospital scene in the first movie, where they pull the older gentleman’s underwear down. I remember that scene. Caesars Palace has expanded. It’s crazy how much money they put into it, it’s like a whole new casino. And I tell you, you wouldn’t know the economy’s suffering here. To me, at least, it feels like Vegas has– The cosmopolitan, that whole area was under construction when we were here.
They didn’t know if they were gonna be able to finish it. And now it’s– I don’t know how many days you guys have been here, but– Did you just get here today?
The first movie was a surprise for everyone. Now you have a fan base. How are you going to surprise in this new movie?
Well, the hope is that it’ll feel– The way it feels for us is everybody’s happy to be back, the story’s exciting, and it does feel like closure to the trilogy. An unexpected trilogy. But it does feel like– And it brings back elements of the first two that we may have sort of passed over without thinking, you know? It’s almost like going back and saying, “Oh, this actually meant something, and this meant something.” There’s a really nice full-circle that happens in this one.
Are you wrapping it up in this film?
Yes, this is it. Yeah.
How has the Wolf Pack evolved? ‘Cause you guys are different people, they are different people, and yet you guys are getting to still do some of the same things. Can you talk about the evolution of the Wolf Pack form your point of view?
The evolution of the Wolf Pack… Yeah, we’re older. You know, these guys have been through a lot. They drove Perfect Life through the– What’s the river in Bangkok? The Chao Phraya river, yeah. They’ve had to deal with a tiger, and a monkey, and Chow. And yeah, they’ve gone through a lot. And we actually talk about that often, just about how much these guys have actually gone through together. And I think they’re a little bit more learned, but you know, they’re still true to themselves. And Alan is forever Alan, and Stu is forever Stu. But yeah, especially in this movie, there’s a nice evolution for some of the characters which is interesting.
Are there any crazy episodes of your life, where you take inspiration from for the role?
Thank God, no. No, and anybody who has should seek help.
Did Mike Tyson come back in the movie?
I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that or not, yeah.
And you seem pretty involved, not only in the acting, like I saw you over there, but also playing with ideas of your own, how to cut it. So is this something you get more and more interested in, and learning about stuff behind the camera? Since you produced Limitless…
(overlaps) Me, personally? Yeah, I love– Hopefully, within the next couple of years, I could be directing a movie. Yeah, I really want to direct a movie, and I love the process of filmmaking even more than acting. So yeah.
How much did The Hangover, the first one, change your life professionally?
Tremendously, in every way. You know, to be a part of a financial success, provides opportunities. There’s no way I would have been able to, I think– Relativity didn’t put me in Limitless. And for that to be successful, allowed movies like Silver Linings Playbook. I don’t think I ever would have– The Weinstein Company would have said, “We’ll see if you can carry this.” So yeah, huge opportunities.
Speaking of different experiences, in comedies and dramas and everything, what do you think you like most, and why you decided to get back to the trilogy, to this comedy which actually started your career?
I would do anything Todd Phillips asks me to do, number one. And not because I’m indebted to him, because I am, but because I just think he’s a great filmmaker. And I love it all. Really, it’s all about filmmakers, that’s it. It’s really all about working with the best filmmakers that are gonna push you and make you grow.
And challenging yourself, I mean, the whole thing about The Hangover trilogy now is there’s a humor and a rawness, and you guys keep pushing the boundaries. But could you talk about the realness of these characters, and how that humor comes through?
Well, the sort of concept is– Maybe characters that are a little bit more eccentric than normal life, put them in situations that are a little bit more extreme than normal life, but play it real. Play it exactly real, don’t go for the joke, just play that situation, and the comedy will come out of it. And that’s the way each movie has been approached. And I think even cinematically, Todd and Larry Sher, who shoots it, have evolved in how cinematic it is. I feel like this one’s even more cinematic. In the first one, I remember we used to talk about you could have played it as a thriller, you know, it could’ve been just a thriller.
In the first two movies, you have a hangover. In this movie, it’s gonna be a hangover too?
I can’t say.
Or it’s just a road trip?
What do you think, we’re hung-over right now?
What about the personal life of Phil? In the first two movies, Doug’s personal life was brought– he was married. And in the second one, Stu was married, Alan was all over it in every movie, and your personal life in the movies was, like, on the back seat.
Well, Phil’s life is the way it was established in the first one. He’s actually happily married, even though he talks a big game. But you see, at the end of the movie, that he’s happy with his wife, and he actually has a boy, an eight-year-old kid, in the first one. Then in the second one, when you’re in the diner, you see that he actually has a baby there, so they just had a girl. So he’s got two kids and he’s married.
How do you feel that the trilogy ends here?
So happy. Personally, I was excited to come back to Vegas. I think it’s a great way to end it.
Could you talk about– Is this a bigger movie than the other two? ‘Cause it looks like a lot more locations, and–
I think, Bangkok, it was a pretty big movie, right? I mean, it felt pretty big. This feels big too though, yeah.
Can you talk about the themes, and how it connects with people? ‘Cause it’s obviously connected with fans all the world over. How does it feel from your point of view?
Well, I think it’s sort of personal and creative, because I love these guys. We’re all back together, there’s a fraternity about it, there’s like a family feeling, with the crew, everybody. And it almost feels like we’ve been taking these year hiatuses off from the movies, but we’ve done this one, long television series. So there’s something about that, which also is sort of synchronized with the whole idea of the Wolf Pack, these three guys sticking together. And we, in real time, have gone through all this, so it’s kind of a perfect culmination of everything together, which actually fuels the doing of the movie. It’s very easy to pretend that Zach and Ed are my best friends, because we’ve gone through all this together for the past two movies.
You’ve broken out and done more varied stuff, in a lot of ways, than the other guys. Anything you think you’ve had different than they have?
I would argue that that’s not true. Ed Helms did that movie– The Duplass brothers film, and then he did Cedar Rapids, and he did this movie Manure. And Zach did It’s Kind of a Funny Story. So actually I think everybody’s done different things.
Your profile’s getting a little higher than everyone else’s I think.
I don’t think so. Zach did Due Date, and then he did The Campaign– I’m their publicist, by the way.
Try them, I guarantee you, ask them the question, they have no idea what I’ve been up to. Like, “Wasn’t he on Alias?”
And how is Todd as a director?
Wonderful. You guys got a chance to watch him a little bit, now he’s sick today. But he’s the captain of the ship, and you want a captain, and you want somebody who also invites creativity. And these storylines are complicated, it’s not like they just put three of us together and, “Now let’s make some jokes.” It’s almost like a, God bless him, a Tony Scott movie, it almost feels like that.
What is the challenge, creatively, in this one? In terms of Phil, like you were saying, these interweaving storylines, what’s the biggest challenge in that?
To help them tell the best story, which is always an actor’s job, just to keep that clear. That’s sort of my job in this one.
Zach told us something about an inside joke, that when all your careers might go downhill, you’ll start opening car parks as the Wolf Pack? I don’t think your career will go downward. Maybe, like ten years, you’ll be at a car park opening…?
Sure. Yeah, maybe we’ll do, like, a waterpark theme or something. Yeah, we’re workshopping ideas. We have T-shirts that are being made…
So do you feel more fresh, now that you’ve come back to the role for the third time? Or do you feel like a reunion between friends?
I think we felt more pressure in the second one. This one, we know it’s the last one. Each day, it’s almost like after a show’s been cancelled or something, you know that each day, it’s kind of bittersweet. It feels like that, like each day. It’s a sixty-two day shoot, we’re on day thirty-four… I think everybody’s just enjoying, and I think there’s a lot of gratitude in this movie. Everybody realizes how insanely lucky they are, from the crew– Everybody. And so there’s a nice feeling every day.
How much do you guys stick to the script on the set?
Craig Mazin and Todd Philips wrote a great script, and we do stick to it. There’s improvisation around it, but there is a script for sure.
You have to modulate the energy, I’ve seen that in the thing that you guys were doing in the elevator. Can you talk about having to go back and forth up in the energy in this? Just as far as the comedy, and the drama.
Yeah, we hoped to– For example, with this one, we were trying to do different ways based on– This is a sort of scene that’s transitioning to big moments. So there’s one energy where it’s high, and you go into this thing, and one that’s more sort of gangster-low. And then that way, in the editing room, he can modulate it. So what we’re doing here is gathering all the pieces, and then he modulates them.
Does it always surprise you what he comes up with when you see it in the final cut?
That was the best thing about it, that’s why I’m back for a third. It’s because we’re in good hands. We’re in great hands. What he came up with that second introduction in the first Hangover, I thought, was so incredible, you know, where you have this almost Garry Marshall opening of the movie in the wedding, and next thing you know, it’s like that, I forget who sings it, but that dude going through the desert, with the credits, and that was really inventive, what he did. So we’re in great hands.
What are some other tricks you learnt from Todd that you’ll bring to being a director one day?
He’s hyper-prepared, and yet at the same time, open to movement when he’s on set. That’s a great asset. And the other thing is, you just really believe that he has the confidence to pull it off. And you want that too, you want to feel like there’s somebody at the helm.
Do you feel like you’d have that sort of confidence, given the same–?
I’d fake it. I’d try to fake it.
Ultimately what is The Hangover about for you? Just thinking of it as an entity, as what it is…?
It’s something that provided a huge opportunity, and it also has been a great experience, to meet friends and to creatively work on something that had the kind of reception that it did.
But the story itself? Well, like the fact that these are friends, and they all come back together no matter what their differences are. Stuff like that, does that come through? Is that something that you look at, or is it just about the journey?
You know, I hadn’t really looked at that, but that’s certainly sort of– I think you can’t escape it, so yeah. That’s it, I never thought of that.