After the life-threatening escapades of the first Hangover film, you’d think the “wolf pack” — played by Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis — would learn to take it easy when celebrating before a wedding. But The Hangover Part II finds the three in a familiar predicament — though in a very unfamiliar location.
In Thailand for Helms’ character’s wedding (at a plush island resort), the three wake up in a rundown Bangkok hotel room with no memory of the night before — and once again missing a member of their party. But the exotic location isn’t the only thing different about the sequel. “This movie is more about the dynamic of the three guys, and you really get to know them,” Cooper says. “For me, watching the first one, it could almost be boiled down to one joke. The whole movie’s a setup and the punchline is the credits. When you get to the end of this movie, I’m excited to see the credits, but that’s not what I’ve been thinking about the whole movie.”
Revisiting the characters meant getting to show different sides of them, something Galifianakis was thrilled about. “I think we all wanted to see us turning against each other a bit, which was fun to watch. It kind of calls for it,” he says. “I think that was something kind of new that we explored.”
Of course, what was most exciting for the co-stars was heading to the other side of the world to film. “I just fell in love with Bangkok. We spent two weeks in a resort town, and I couldn’t wait to get back to Bangkok,” Cooper says, and Galifianakis agrees: “The jet lag was a little bit tough, but once you got there and you got settled in, the people are so brilliantly nice that you feel welcome. It’s a great society, it really is,” he says.
Settling in to Bangkok, Cooper found himself eschewing the local cuisine. “I actually took a liking to Top Menu, which was a Chinese restaurant that I ate a lot at in Bangkok,” he says, though Helms is quick to dismiss his co-star’s culinary choices.
“It really is just like any Chinese takeout place in New York City,” Helms says. Of course, that attitude — and an appetite for more authentic cuisine — may have been responsible for some major discomfort the Office star suffered while on location. “I had a very serious hurdle to get past the first week, which was severe food poisoning,” Helms says. “It never fully went away, and maybe I should just leave the rest up to your imagination. Let’s just say my body exploded.”
While the guys don’t wake up with a tiger in their bathroom like in the first film, the animal kingdom is well represented by Crystal, a monkey in a denim Rolling Stones vest with a nasty smoking habit. “Crystal turned out to be kind of this miracle monkey. She’s incredible, she can do anything,” Cooper says. “I remember when we were talking about it, [director Todd Phillips] was saying there’s going to be this drug-dealing mule that’s a monkey and it’s going to smoke. I was like, ‘How the hell are you going to pull this off?’”
Of course, there are drawbacks to working with a small, furry co-star, says Cooper: “The only downside to Crystal is she has very long claws, and you don’t want to get Crystal around an elephant,” he warns. “There was one scene where we were walking down the street and there was an elephant, and she kind of destroyed my shoulder.”