A new movie from the director that brought us the modern comedy classic, Old School? Set in Vegas? Oh. Hell. Yes. With the buzz of anticipiation flooding his senses, Buzzine’s Parimal Rohit set off on a little roadtrip to Caeser's Palace in Las Vegas to visit the set of Todd Phillips new film, The Hangover:
Parimal Rohit: Tell us about why you chose Caesar’s [Palace]. It’s kind of the old guard of Vegas.
Todd Phillips: Yes, Caesar’s is definitely the old guard. Most people would think it’s cool to go to The Palms or Hard Rock. These guys are of the age where they are in their 30s. They are kind of doing it in an old-school way.
PR: When you cast these three guys, did something click in your head? Did you just know that this actor here was perfect for one of the characters?
TP: Yeah, exactly. That’s why we did all three together. Then I did a pass at the script of writing it more in their voices.
PR: How did you bring Heather Graham on board?
TP: I’ve just been a huge fan of Heather. It’s not a humongous part, but it is the female lead. I just called her up, asked her if she would do it, and sent her the script. She loved it and loved the part. Really, she just responds to whether the part is right and if she can do anything with it.
PR: Is there something about this movie that is different from your other movies?
TP: We always try to make each one funnier and better, so it’s not entirely that we are breaking ground, because I love to explore the stories of men and friendship. I love the awkwardness of male relationships. So this movie is definitely a step in that direction.
PR: Do you think this movie will take you to a higher level in future projects?
TP: I never think of it like that. I just want to make funny movies, and I love when guys break out of the movies. I think Ed Helms is someone, if this movie works out – I hope it does -– he will be a big comedy star. Zach [Galifianakis] will be a big comedy star. I think this works well for Bradley [Cooper], especially since this is not a romantic comedy — it’s just a comedy.
PR: So this movie can serve as a launching point for some of these actors?
TP: Yeah, I like to think of movies like that, in a way -– launching points for actors and new guys. I’ve done a few comedies, and I love doing them.
PR: How did you come up with this idea?
TP: This was actually an idea that two friends of mine had, and I was looking for stuff you can cast really well in comedies. Sometimes it’s less about the actual plot and more about what pace you are putting a great cast of comedians or comedic actors through. I always think casting first; comedies are 70% casting. I mean, this is a great story and a great backdrop, but it’s all just machinations to make things happen.
PR: Have you had any hangover stories in Vegas?
TP: I’ve had some dark, dark times here, particularly in the past three months.
PR: Tell us about the casting…
TP: We cast all three of these guys at the same time, but I was looking to find something for a very long time for Zach.
PR: Can you describe how you see each of the three main characters?
TP: I think that Bradley’s character is kind of the facilitator. He plans, he makes things happen. I think that Stu is kind of the rock of the friendship. He’s the guy you could always go to with a secret and he’d never tell anyone. Alan is really the livewire. He really isn’t one of their friends in the beginning; he’s the bride’s brother. He just comes along on the trip uninvited. He’s the third wheel, so to speak. He’s the guy who sets everything off and fucks everything up. He’s a consistent fuck-up.
PR: How did you select Bradley (Cooper) as the leading man?
TP: Bradley has been doing a lot of work. When I told Vince Vaughn that I cast Bradley, Vince was like, “Wow, he’s just so good.” I do think he is one of those guys on the cusp.
PR: How distracting is it to film in Vegas with all the temptations?
TP: It’s very hard. It will all catch up to me very soon. It is hard to film a shoot here because it’s a 24 hour life here, for real. Normally, when you shoot until 5:00 in the morning, you go home and everything’s dead. But here, everything is awake and alive. It’s hard to sleep here and it’s hard to wind down in Vegas.
PR: Is this movie a bromance?
TP: Some people like to use that word, but I don’t…but I guess you can call it that.
'The Hangover' is due to be released in June 2009 by Warner Bros. Pictures