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The Hangover Part II – Bradley Cooper and the miracle monkey

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The Hangover Part II - Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms
Phil (Bradley Cooper) with the monkey, Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Stu (Ed Helms) © 2011 Warner Bros and and Legendary Pictures

In the summer of 2009, Todd Phillips’ The Hangover became a record-breaking sensation, accruing almost $300 million, making it the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time. It told the story of three friends, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) who go to Las Vegas for their friend Doug’s (Justin Bartha) bachelor party, and wake up in a hotel room the next day with a baby, a tiger and no Doug, having to retrace their steps in order to make things right.

Now the gang is on their way to Thailand for Stu’s wedding. And believe it or not – and I know that you do – the nightmare happens again, as Phil, Alan and Stu wake up in a cheap motel room, instead of the luxury hotel they started out in – this time with a drug dealing monkey.

Bradley Cooper spoke of returning to the franchise at the press day for the movie.

What’s the same and what’s new in this sequel?

The Hangover Part II - Bradley Cooper
Phil (Bradley Cooper) © 2011 Warner Bros and and Legendary Pictures

We knew we had to adhere to certain tenets of the movie. We wanted aspects we loved from the first film to be in this one, but in a fresh, totally new context. Todd’s idea to set it in Bangkok upped the ante completely. We had a huge car chase, motorcycles, riots, shooting. Three’s a lot of action in this movie.

What was the most challenging thing that happened to you in Thailand?

You know what was odd and challenging, the sheer number of people who were constantly on set. There’s something about doing a production in Bangkok where there’s just of people all over the place and Todd to his credit, thank God, likes a lean set and that just makes it easier to work, so that was a challenge having to adapt to there just being so many bodies around all the time.

It was nice you were able to use Mike Tyson again. He’s like an unofficial member of the wolf pack.

The Hangover Part II - Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms
Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Stu (Ed Helms) in the back row with Monk (Aroon Seeboonruang) seated at the front © 2011 Warner Bros and and Legendary Pictures

Mike was amazing. It was great to see him. First of all, he looked fantastic, he lost about 50 pounds and he was in great spirits and the beautiful thing about him is, he promoted the first one and we really got to spend a lot of time with him, not just the shooting of the first Hangover, so we all got to know him.

My memory of Mike is, before his day of shooting you’d see him walking around and it looked like he was prepping for a fight, he had his headphones on and his robe, he took it so seriously. It was great to have him in the last scene, when we’re looking at the photographs.

What were the joys and pains of working with Crystal the monkey in this?

The Hangover Part II - Crystal the monkey, Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms
Crystal the monkey, Alan (Zach Galifianakis), Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms) © 2011 Warner Bros and and Legendary Pictures

Crystal turned out to be a miracle monkey. She’s incredible, she can do anything and I remember when we were talking about it, and Todd was saying, ‘There is going to be this drug dealing mule that’s a monkey and it’s going to smoke.’ I was like, ‘How the hell are you going to pull this off?’

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is this montage, with Curtis Mayfield’s Pusher Man,’ it’s one of the greatest parts of the movie. The only down side to Crystal is she’s got very long claws, and you don’t want to get Crystal around an elephant. There was one scene where we were walking down the street and there was an elephant and she destroyed my shoulder, which was not that great.

What was it that you guys brought to these characters this time around?

The Hangover Part II - Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms
Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) © 2011 Warner Bros and and Legendary Pictures

I think that’s part of the reason why there was so much room for the second one, because there was so much unfinished. You really didn’t get to know the characters. The narrative, which was really this mystery, this ticking clock, took precedent in the first one. And I think the difference between that one and the second one, this movie is more about the dynamic of the three guys. You really get to know them.

For example, for me watching the first one it could almost be boiled down to one joke, the whole movie’s a set up and the punch line is the credits. When you get to the end of this movie, I’m excited to see the credits, but that’s not what I’ve been thinking about the whole movie. I got very caught up in what happened to Stu and how they dealt with the dynamic and what Alan did, and it’s much more about that. I found it to be a much more pleasing movie as a viewer.

What is Phil and Alan’s relationship like in this film?

The Hangover Part II - Bradley Cooper
Phil (Bradley Cooper) © 2011 Warner Bros and and Legendary Pictures

I think that’s my favorite part about this movie, because their relationship becomes really rich. In the first one, Zach and I improvised a lot of that, not always knowing if it would even play. But in this one, it’s built in already and we can take it even further. It’s like making a movie with your brothers. No one has to think too hard about the process; you go with it. Our only real objective is that people will laugh their asses off.