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Interview: Bradley Cooper

Shave Magazine
Published: May 2011

Since the first Hangover movie, Bradley Cooper has become a major Hollywood celebrity with big lead roles in big movies, including the recent and highly successful film, Limitless. Well now the Rat Pack (Cooper, Helms, Galifianakis) is back and the Hanover Part 2 promises to be bigger and more outrageous than Part 1. We caught up with Bradley to talk about the encore.

The first Hangover was a great success but it was also done for relatively little pay. Could any of you guys have predicted what was coming?

That was a lot of money for us. Are you kidding? That was like; we were over the moon about it. We were just happy to have a job.

Since you got the lead for Hangover 1 it seems everything has just exploded for you.

It doesn’t feel that way. Thank you for saying that. Not the case, I gotta say, but it certainly provided more opportunities. Everybody who was a part of that movie, because it was so financially lucrative, benefited from it but I still put myself on tape for movies and try to get roles. It’s the same, you know? It’s the same. I mean, look, more doors have been opened for sure but it’s not like I sit back with a cigar on Monday morning and go through the scripts that have been offered – no, that’s not the case.

Tell us about Bangkok.

(Referring to the recording devices)These are all off, right? (He chuckles) I love it. I absolutely love it. I didn’t get sick there the way a lot of people did – a lot of people got sick. It’s the land of a thousand smiles and it sort of hides how low and morose it can be. You think to yourself, “Oh, this is all good fun,” but some pretty dark stuff goes on in Bangkok. That said, I absolutely loved it; I loved how foreign it felt. I loved that it felt like I was in Blade Runner a lot of the time. The food was incredible. The Chao Phraya River is beautiful. It’s a really special place… I had never been to a Buddhist culture – it’s half Muslim, that’s an interesting aspect – the pageantry that goes along with the culture, I love Salathip and all that stuff, it’s really interesting. Everybody loved it. Beck said it was the hardest shoot I had ever done. I mean just logistically, to get from point A to point B is incredibly difficult and the bureaucracy and getting things done. There are always tons of people around the set and Todd loves a lean set and it was always the opposite, so watching a director deal with that – especially when it was Todd Phillips – was interesting.

Calling it Part 2 makes it a continuation of the first story.

That’s exactly right.

So, when you showed up on the new set did the work rapport feel the same or did everyone approach the project differently this time?

It just has an effect in the sense that we went through so much in the first movie. We all were a part of this thing that had an impact on culture, in a way. So we really went through that together. That was a bonding process. 2 years went by, Todd made another movie with Zach called Due Date, I made the A-Team and Limitless, Ed made Cedar Rapids and another movie – I can’t remember it – and The Office, and we have all grown. And then to revisit those characters was a really interesting experiment, I think, because – personally, I think the second movie is much better than the first one and I think that the characters are more grounded, much more grounded – you get to know them. The dynamic is very interesting. You feel Phil vulnerable, resorting to an adolescent behavior saying “you are no longer my friend” to Alan. So it was interesting. I loved it. I think that it was really important that we adhered to the structure of the first one, you know, and we made that decision early on. I remember we did this photo shoot for Vanity Fair and that was when we first talked about a sequel in a realistic way; and we were all in the room together afterwards and we were saying “here’s the choice: do we stray from the structure or do we run straight for it?” And we all agreed, no question about it, we hadn’t earned the ability to take these 3 guys out and put them in a new structure. There needs to be a ticking clock, there needs to be a missed night and there needs to be someone who’s gone and a woman who is waiting to get married and a guy who needs to get married. So we did that, and you know that right away. Todd tells you in the first 5 minutes of the movie when you get that phone call… “look Tracy we messed up.” It’s like ‘hey guys, you are going to get the same movie BUT it’s going to be a lot darker, the stakes are going to be raised and, you know, just strap yourselves in.

Which was more fun to film, Part 1 or Part 2?

When I think of The Hangover, honestly, I only think of the second one because it was an indelible experience, I have to say. Also because the love for everybody was so palpable in the second one; I really love Ed and I really love Zach and I really love Todd, you know so… And also because we were halfway across the world; it wasn’t like Vegas, you know, it was friggin’ Bangkok. You know what I mean? It was intense, man. And it was the hardest shoot that I had ever done, that Zach had ever done, that Ed had ever done and that Todd had ever done… and for the crew. It was quite a journey.

What was the pressure like to top the first film?

It was more excitement. I never felt pressure and I certainly am more curious now, after seeing the movie and loving it as much as I do, I am curious to see how people will react to how dark it is and how much time is taken with it. You know, the movie is a more confidently directed film by Todd Phillips. The first one moves like a frigging bottle rocket; this one takes time. It breathes. You let the camera breathe and you really see what Stu is going through. I couldn’t believe how much he sat on the scene of Mr. Chow breaking out of the ice box; and he spits in Phil’s face and Phil is just looking at him, and then you cut to the two-shot and there is like this…(shaking his head) and I was going like I can’t believe he had the guts to just sit there and have these two men going “Shhhhh, shhhh” to each other. (laughing) I mean, it was such a crazy Saving Private Ryan [moment] when the Nazi’s were killing the Jews, you know what I mean. It was just so crazy (laughing)…It was such a crazy moment.

Was there more Improv than in the first one?

No, there was a lot of Improv in the first one. You know, it’s always an interesting question to answer. People are always obsessed with “what was not in the script?” The script is great and there is nothing, like, wrong with the script – they worked very hard on it. “Is this a magic show” is in the script and I think it is one of the funniest lines in the movie, when Alan says “is this a magic show.” But, you know, the structure of how we would film the movie would be: we would show up on set, we would run the scene as it was written and then we would, sort of, feel if it was working or not, then we would go off (the four of us) and workshop – literally off camera – and come up with ideas. Todd would say, “Okay let’s keep that, lose that” and we would go and we would do it until we would get… honestly, it’s kind of like… it is music. Comedy is music. What’s so great is you have these three different instruments and then this fourth instrument, Todd, and you know when they are all working. You just know. For example, the scene in the monastery, at the end of the scene — the scene ends before it actually ends in the movie. I literally couldn’t understand what he was saying — the guy, the actor. I was like, “what the hell is he saying?” And then Stu says, “I think he is saying something about the art of meditation” and then Alan says “no, no. He is saying he is farting from his medication.” (Laughing) That all came out of the three of us just being our characters reacting to the given circumstances of this guy and “what the hell’s he talking about?” That’s when it was the most fun. That even happened in the bonfire with the Polar Bear conversation about the Black Bear. Hilarious.

What would be your favorite city to have a Hangover in?

Toronto.

You’re are a pretty private guy. How do you spend your free time.

Eating. I eat a lot of food. I am a big eater.

© 2011 Shave Magazine | Written by Rameez Karim | No copyright infringment intended.