The Uncensored Oral History of 'The Hangover'
With the third installment out May 24, director Todd Phillips, Bradley Cooper and the execs behind the biggest R-rated comedy franchise in history tell all about Lindsay Lohan's meeting, Mel Gibson's ill-fated cameo and how they tricked the baby's mom. Plus: Who made $70 million?
Phillips continued to tweak the script during the shoot, sometimes feeding lines between takes.
JEONG: Todd fed me most of those lines. "Tootaloo, mother f--er!" -- that was all him. That wasn't my creation.
PHILLIPS: We wrote [Stu's missing tooth] in the script, and then we were talking about how we were gonna do this. We started talking to these guys who do implanting, and then Ed comes to me and goes: "You know, this isn't real. This tooth is an implant I got when I was 15."
HELMS: I talked to my dentist and he said, "Yeah, we can take it out." He was a champ. He's in the credits. So he took the tooth out, and he had to make a special piece to then screw into the hole so that the gum tissue stays healthy. He made me a flipper with the fake tooth on it that I could take in and out because I was still shooting on The Office. I never told [anyone on the show] because they would lose their minds. So I would show up to work on The Office with this appliance in my mouth, and it really affected my speech. If you watch those episodes, I sound drunk.
PHILLIPS: In the script that Jeremy and I had written, Mr. Chow jumps out of the trunk in his underwear. It was Ken who came to me and said, "I think we should do this naked." I was like, "You don't have to tell me twice!" (Laughs.) Before he finished his sentence, there was a nudity waiver slid under his door at Caesars Palace.
JEONG: Bradley volunteered for me to jump on him. My genitals and Bradley's neck are very good friends. Todd said midway through filming, "Bradley, if this is too uncomfortable for you, let me know." And Bradley said something to the effect of, "Todd, until you brought it up, I really didn't realize how creepy this actually is."
PHILLIPS: When Ken jumped out of the trunk, there was a policeman who said that people were complaining from Mandalay Bay, which was in no way true. He said, "You keep doing it, and we're going to shut you down."
HELMS: Ken is sprinting through an empty lot naked, and the cop says something like: "This is Vegas -- we don't act like that. This is not that kind of town."
COOPER: Behind the cop, as he's saying this, is a billboard of naked women. (Laughs.)
JEONG: With all their boobies hanging out. You can't get more ironic than that.
PHILLIPS: They were going to shut us down, so we built a wall of blackout cloth. It was so ridiculous. [Otherwise], they were so open to us. It was the best place to shoot. When The Hangover came out, there were literally guys who owned casinos who called me, saying, "Hey, thank you for what you did for us this summer." But it wasn't easy for us to get a hotel that would welcome us to shoot in like Caesars did. We had approached a few hotels that were like: "No, no, no. We don't do filming."
COOPER: People did not react to us. That's the one thing about Vegas: They were completely indifferent. We would go in the elevator at 5 in the morning after shooting, and I had huge scratches on my head, full makeup, and they don't give a f--. It was unbelievable.
JEONG: It was a very magical shoot. My wife was going through breast cancer and chemotherapy at the time. [She recovered.] It was part of the reason I was so unhinged in the character; I think I was working out my own demons. Todd and Bradley were the only people who knew. Hangover got me through the most difficult time in my life.
During shooting, the filmmakers also took a series of staged photos to be used for the movie's infamous end-credits sequence.
PHILLIPS: That was Jeremy Garelick's idea, which to me is one of the biggest ideas of The Hangover. He came to me one morning in our writing session and goes, "What do you think …" -- he's literally couching it, like this might be the worst idea ever -- "would it be weird if, like, they find a camera and we see?"
HELMS: And we had to tie up some story pieces.
PHILLIPS: It explains so much. It explains his tooth; it explains …
COOPER: The woman that you hired that blows [Galifianakis] in the elevator. She was such a character. She was an old porn star. It was unbelievable. That was just fantastic.
GALIFIANAKIS: I offered Todd's assistant $1,000 to talk Todd into taking that out of the movie.
COOPER: Meanwhile, it's the biggest laugh in the whole film.
PHILLIPS: Alan [Horn, then running Warner Bros.] is a good friend and huge supporter of mine. That said, when we first screened it for him, he must have looked away during that one photo because when he saw it at the premiere, he definitely hadn't seen it before. He came up to me and said: "What was that? That's not in the actual movie, is it?" And I said, "Of course it is," and he said, "Did you change it since I saw it?" And we really hadn't. It was the identical cut that he viewed. Turns out, he must have looked away at that exact moment -- those photos were literally 36 frames each. But he got over it. Alan loved the movie from the first time he saw it, and that never changed.
ALAN HORN: Now I focus on the end credits right up to the beginning of the next movie.