Before shooting the 2009 bad-boy comedy The Hangover, costars Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis decided to carpool together to the film set in Las Vegas.
But there were no over-the-top Hangover-type antics on the drive there, says Cooper.
“It was the opposite of what you would envision,” he tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies. “There was nothing crazy. We were in a Prius [and] I think we were listening to Prairie Home Companion on the way out there.”
In the original Hangover, characters played by Cooper, Galifianakis and co-star Ed Helms traveled to Las Vegas for an over-the-top bachelor party for their friend Doug (Justin Bartha). The movie, the tenth-highest-grossing film of 2009, went on to win a Golden Globe and became a critical favorite.
Two years later, all four actors from the raunchy bromance have reteamed with director Todd Phillips for the movie’s sequel, The Hangover: Part II. In the second movie, the guys are once again getting together before a wedding — but this time, it’s Ed Helms going down the aisle, and the wedding takes place in Bangkok, Thailand — where Cooper says much of the movie was reworked during the 10-week shoot.
“We would do the scene, then [Todd, Ed, Zack and myself] would come back and then just start workshopping at the side of the set and then try to come up with better ideas and then say, ‘Okay, okay, that works, that doesn’t’ and then we would go back in and do it again,” Cooper explains. “So things would be created — written on the day they were filmed [and] they were reworked just at the side of the set.”
The result, he says, is a scripted movie with an improv-like feel, with actors who work well together because they genuinely like each other off-set. Helms, Galifianakis and Cooper — who met shortly before filming the first Hangover film — have spent holidays and vacations together and regularly hang out together in Los Angeles.
“All three of us could not be more different, yet we share a real affinity for the same kind of comedy,” Cooper says. “And then [one year] Ed and I flew to North Carolina and rented a car and drove to Zack’s farm for New Year’s and then [we were] together promoting the movie — and the next thing you know, [we were] in Bangkok for 10 weeks, shooting the second one.”
Cooper also reunited with a monkey named Crystal, who he first worked with in the 2006 film Failure to Launch. In The Hangover II, Crystal plays a drug-dealing monkey who provides belly laughs during her scenes.
“I got tons of scratches from Crystal,” says Cooper. “[My character] Phil and the drug-dealing monkey become quite close physically throughout the movie. … And there was this one scene, where we were in Bangkok with an elephant as an extra in the background. … Every time that elephant came within 15 feet, Crystal would just claw into my shoulder. And I had scars the entire time I was doing the movie.”