Wolf pack’s last hang­over

A re­turn to the US gam­bling cap­i­tal is a fit­ting way to wind up The Hang­over tril­ogy, re­ports

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - James Wigney

FOR the cast and crew of The Hang­over, re­turn­ing to Las Vegas to film the fi­nal chap­ter of the com­edy tril­ogy was some­thing of a tri­umphant home­com­ing.

When di­rec­tor Todd Phillips and his lead­ing men – Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Gal­ifi anakis and Justin Bartha – made the orig­i­nal movie in 2009, the Ne­vada city renowned for ex­cess of ev­ery sort took lit­tle no­tice.

But af­ter the in­ge­nious com­edy was re­leased to rave re­views and close to a half a bil­lion dollars at the box offi ce, the Wolf Pack be­came al­most as much a part of Sin City as the Rat Pack and the black­jack, poker and roulette wheel im­mor­talised in Elvis’s Viva Las Vegas.

So when the pro­duc­tion re­turned to its nat­u­ral home last year – af­ter an even more fi­nan­cially suc­cess­ful de­tour in Bangkok for the sec­ond film in 2011 – they were con­fronted with slot ma­chines and T- shirts bear­ing their faces, street buskers im­per­son­at­ing their char­ac­ters and a wel­come mat that pretty much gave them the run of the city.

For Hol­ly­wood heart throb, and now Os­carnom­i­nee Cooper, whose ca­reer tra­jec­tory sky­rock­eted af­ter the first film, it was a very strange feel­ing, par­tic­u­larly when his mother came to visit.

“She dragged me to The Hang­over slot ma­chine,” he re­calls with a laugh dur­ing a break from film­ing in a dis­tinctly unglam­orous part of the city, well away from the fa­mous Strip. “It was very em­bar­rass­ing. She loved it.”

For Helms, also known for his role in the lon­grun­ning US ver­sion of The Offi ce, he went from be­ing a face in the crowd to a casino drawcard, as he found out while play­ing black­jack with co- star Gal­ifi anakis.

“I have learned not to stroll ca­su­ally through the Cae­sar’s lobby on a Fri­day or Satur­day night,” he says. “All it takes is one drunk to shout your name and tackle you and start tak­ing pic­tures of you – and then a mob forms.”

Meet­ing his im­per­son­ator left the bearded and portly Gal­ifi anakis, whose face adorns I Love Las Vegas shirts all over the city, a bit con­fused.

“He’s very nice and qui­eter than I imag­ined but I haven’t seen him work out there,” Gal­ifi anakis says.

“I want to go, I don’t know, sup­port him. I don’t know what to do. Maybe heckle him.”

But for Phillips, there were some very prac­ti­cal ad­van­tages – like be­ing able to con­trol the fa­mous foun­tains at the sump­tu­ous Bel­la­gio casino.

“They would never have let us do that on the first one,” he says. “But they let us do it now, be­cause it’s like, ‘ OK, The Hang­over’s here’.

“They kind of roll out the red car­pet in Vegas, which has been great for us, pro­duc­tion- wise.”

A huge part of the suc­cess of The Hang­over came from its imag­i­na­tive back­wards struc­ture. Three men – Phil ( Cooper), Stu ( Helms) and Alan ( Gal­ifi anakis) on a bucks’ week­end in Vegas wake up in a Cae­sar’s Palace suite to find they have a tiger in the bath­room, a miss­ing groom ( Bartha) and no rec­ol­lec­tion of the pre­vi­ous night.

The se­quel, which was an even big­ger suc­cess at the box offi ce but drew more luke­warm re­views, re­peated the for­mula but trans­planted the ac­tion to Bangkok in the leadup to Stu’s wed­ding. Al­though the plot de­tails of The Hang­over

Part III have been more closely guarded than a Vegas vault, Phillips and his co- writer Craig Mazin freely ad­mit they were wary of go­ing to the same well once too of­ten in bring­ing the story to its con­clu­sion.

“This film is a de­par­ture from the first two in the sense that they don’t pass out, there’s no mo­ment where they don’t re­mem­ber what hap­pened be­fore,” Mazin says. “Todd and I al­ways say that can hap­pen to you once and it can hap­pen to you twice – three times it can’t.”

For the three main char­ac­ters Cooper, Helms and Gal­ifi anakis ( Bartha, it must be said, is a lit­tle touchy at be­ing per­ceived as “the other guy” from The Hang­over), sign­ing up for the third film was an easy de­ci­sion.

The ac­tors share an easy rap­port, jok­ing around be­tween shots and clearly com­fort­able in each other’s com­pany.

“There’s to­tally a dy­namic and a vibe and there’s a fair amount of so­cial in­ter­ac­tion in our lives out­side of this,” Helms says of the bond the three have formed over the course of the movies, par­tic­u­larly the phys­i­cally test­ing Bangkok shoot.

Cooper, nom­i­nated for the Best Ac­tor Os­car for his role in Sil­ver Lin­ings Play­book, agrees.

“You know, chem­istry’s a big thing,” he says. “I think that the three of us work well to­gether. It’s easy and it just feels right. You also have Ed Helms and Zach Gal­ifi anakis who are just un­be­liev­able comedic tal­ents, and they cre­ated two great char­ac­ters.”

THE HANG­OVER PART III

Opens at Vil­lage Cinemas on May 23

THE WOLF PACK: Bradley Cooper, Zach Gal­ifi anakis and Ed Helms in The Hang­over Part III.

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