They occupy space with the cachet and confidence of their blockbuster movie franchise status but up close and in-person, Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifinakis and Ed Helms seem to share a genuine likeness for each other, and an unpretentious nature, for real.
Add Justin Bartha to the mix and the perpetual tragedy-prone, four best buds come full circle back to Las Vegas for the last installment of HANGOVER. Ken Jeong amplifies the action as the seemingly vicious Leslie Chow whose accelerated vengeance to right the wrongs done to him brings the funny, time and again.
Todd Phillips helms the ship, directing the Craig Mazin screenplay. Mike Epps, Heather Graham along with franchise newcomers Melissa McCarthy and John Goodman, all factor acutely in this summer’s top R-rated comedy.
I sat with members of the gang during press interviews at Caesars Palace—
What are your earliest memories of the first movie that turned HANGOVER into the most successful R-rated comedy franchise in movie history?
Bradley Cooper: Hangover 1 is indelibly marked on our brains forever. I remember a scene in the hospital with the older gentleman who had to take down his underwear and we all completely lost it. I had to leave the set; I think that scene is on the DVD as a blooper. At that moment, it was really forever in my mind, that’s the most I’ve ever laughed. The euphoria that was surging through your body was really funny …that was the most juvenile moment of all.
Mike Tyson did not return in this installment. Did you know he credits this film franchise for launching his acting career and says so in his one man stage performance directed by Spike Lee?
Have any of you seen it?
Bradley Cooper: No, I can’t wait to see it. I think Mike would be where he is now without the Hangover movies. I mean, he’s an unbelievable person that just keeps growing…we did two movies with him over three years, he went through a tremendous amount of change from the first to the second, as we all did. He kind of grew with us. He was a big part of the first and second ones even though he wasn’t in them for very long. I love him as a guy. I think he’s fantastic.
Zach Galifinakis: I was at the Beacon Theatre (in New York) last week where his show was; I was going to go by and say hi to him if he remembered me. But I think as far as your question about the third film, I think the intent on the third one was to change up stuff as much as we possibly could; having Mike back would seem that’s not changing things up a little bit. But as far as working with him, I think
Bradley’s is right; he is an interesting dude, he really, really is and he’s had a hard past. I think it seems as if he’s redeeming his life…a life that is just spectacular, beautiful.
There are a number of crude, hard core, adult-rated scenes throughout the film. As a devoted son, father and husband, what did your family say
about your role in these films?
Ken Jeong: My parents…that’s a different story. I told my parents I was going to be naked in the Hangover 1; my dad has a great sense of humor. He saw it and loved it. I waited a couple of months for my mother to see it because she is a little bit more traditional and conservative…I didn’t want to offend her sensibilities in any way so we actually forbid my mother to see it for two months.. Then she saw it two months later with my dad and said, “I loved it, why you underestimate me? It’s funny.”
Was there a reaction from the Asian community given the stereotype your character plays into?
Ken Jeong: Here’s a little secret that no Asian actor will ever tell you– every Asian has to read and has read a role or has performed a role that has required an accent. That is the business you guys (referring to the press) set up for us, alright? That’s just the way it’s done and that’s fine. But to me, my job is to make fun of that stereotype, to poke fun at the stupid holes that are supplied to us, to be honest. We get ridiculous lines that we audition for all the time: Asian guy number 2, Asian assassin number 3…it’s demeaning and ‘Chow’ to me, was my response to that image.
Here’s a guy who is mocking the Asian stereotype, mocking why people laugh at the fat guy falling down in movies…there are levels upon levels of meta-humor. ‘Chow’ in comedy terms is a meta-joke: you’re commenting on a comedy, you’re commenting on why Long Dick Dong exists, you’re commenting on why Breakfast at Tiffany’s Mickey Rooney’s character exists. As for Asian actors, there are thousands, far more talented than me, and we’re all reading for those roles and getting rejected for them. It sucks.
So, ‘Chow’ to me was my meta-response to all that, you’re poking fun at a stereotype. I was messing with it so much in the first movie. I’m always going to put a little bit of extra mustard on something that I’m doing. You could never pay me enough money to read a line in an Asian accent; I’m never going to do that. Well I just did it, but I’m not going to do that.
Have you noticed any comedic sensibilities in your five-year-old daughters?
Ken Jeong: My daughter, Alexa, who looks like my wife has a very dry sensibility like my wife. She’ll say something like, ‘Hey daddy, your head looks like Professor Peanut.’ Then Zoë is a lot like me. They are twin girls but they are fraternal. Both of them have a very advanced sense of humor. I don’t necessarily want them to pursue a career in comedy or acting but I do think that my wife and I definitely want to instill a sense of humor about life in them because life is full of tough sh-t and you’ve got to find a way to laugh at some of that stress.