Q&A – Bradley Cooper Talks Thailand, Tattoos, and His Hopes for a Hangover Trilogy

The wolf pack is back. And if you thought losing their best friend days before his wedding created a stressful situation, you haven't seen anything yet. With The Hangover Part II, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and director Todd Phillips face the enormous pressure of following up the highest-grossing R-rated comedy in history. When Cooper sat down with FilmCritic.com, he talked openly about moving the story to Bangkok, choosing to go dark with the humor, and his hope for a Hangover trilogy.

Q: When you heard they were planning a sequel, were you worried about living up to the first film?

A: Sure, yeah, no doubt about it. But the only reason why I wasn't so trepidatious is that the conversation started before the first movie came out. We didn't realize how big that movie was going to be, and it was only when we got to the moment of actually filming the sequel in Thailand where we definitely started getting excited about this whole process. That early scene in the IHOP was the first scene that we shot. And I remember thinking, "As a fan of The Hangover, I'm just psyched to see Stu and Doug and Phil together and talking." Do you know what I mean? There was this great part about sequels when we were kids, and you wanted to see the characters you love live on. So when we arrived in Bangkok a month later, we finally thought, "God, we really have to live up to the first one and not disappoint." There are a lot of people who love that movie, and there is going to be a lot of scrutiny.

Q: Do you get a hard time about Phil mostly avoiding physical alterations? Zach shaved his head and Ed has that facial tattoo, but Phil's pretty much no worse for wear.

A: Well, unfortunately -- because I would have loved to do all of that stuff -- that's not the function of Phil in the movie. He's that archetype. That stuff doesn't happen to him. But he does get shot. And he got scratched in the first one by the tiger. And also, in the first one, Mr. Chow goes crazy on him. But his thing is getting shot in this one.

Q: You guys didn't shy away from structuring the sequel the same way as the original.

A: No, in fact, we sprinted toward that and embraced it. And I was so happy about that. There were different scenarios tossed around, but we eventually landed on that and I thought, "For sure, it needs to be the same structure." These three guys, as much as you loved them in the first one, they don't have enough weight to take them away from the structure and still have it be an enjoyable movie. Now, I think after this movie, if there's a third one, there's no more "missed night." I don't think you need it anymore. There's so much that happens between these three guys in this movie. It's not about what happened the night before, really. The characters become more dynamic. You watch Phil be vulnerable with Alan. That's crazy! And yet he's still very much Phil. We also watch Phil try to make Stu feel better [in a scene], and that's a guy who he never much cared for. And we learn a lot more about Alan's very warped sense of brotherhood, in a darker way than just the lyrics of, "We're the three best friends that anyone ever had." You realize the ramifications of that song.

Q: Right. That's an example of you making the decision to go much darker with this film. Talk to me about that choice. You let the audience know right off the bat that this is a different story.

A: It's so astute, what you are saying. You are absolutely right. There's a danger to our new setting, to Bangkok, and we say pretty early on, "Guys, this is the way that it's going to go down, so get ready." But it had to go there. Will we alienate people? Will grandmothers who found it charming that Alan was simulating jerking off the baby find the same pleasure in what happens to our young friend Stu? [Laughs] You know, I don't know; I don't know the answer to that question. It would be so wonderful if we could cut to six months from now, and someone walking down the street said to me, "I loved the scene where that prostitute talks to Stu about what she does to him." That would just be the greatest.

Q: And, I guess, if we're following the pattern of the National Lampoon's Vacation films, we've had a domestic and an international adventure, so Christmas Hangover must be next.

A: I think it's going to be something completely different, to be honest. It will be a little trilogy, and that will be it.

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