Set Visit: The Hangover
THE NIGHT BEFORE
Walking into the Caesars Palace hotel & casino, with its beautiful sculptures, fountains and Roman décor, its almost too easy to hit the casino floor and squander away more money than you promised you would. Its here, at the fountain, inside of the casinos entrance that I first see Zach Galifianakis.
I think, Oh yeah, hes in this movie.
Zach is standing alongside the curved wall, arms crossed, gut sticking out, sunglasses holding his greasy hair back. Shorter than I imagined. His big, bushy beard has me bringing my hand to my own face, scratching it. Its later in the evening and hes doing the body blowing in the wind thing that drunks recognize in each other. Hes staring. Into space, at the fountain, I have no idea.
After a minute of taking pictures of the fountain, messing with the exposure settings to get a good photo, I look over.
He looks over, not turning his body, and gives me the whats up head nod. Then he looks back into space or the fountain, I have no idea. And thats good enough for me.
After all that trouble, still fucked up the fountain shot.
Myself and a few journalists are in Las Vegas for Warner Bros new comedy THE HANGOVER, the trailer of which Im sure youve seen by now. For the uninitiated, The Hangover follows four dudes on their trek to Las Vegas for their buddys bachelor party. The next morning they find themselves hungover (obviously) and without a memory of what happened the night before. Also, the bachelor is missing. And theres a tiger in the room. And a baby. And Mike Tysons there too.
The Vegas of old is no longer here. The days of cheap buffets and all out debauchery is over. Ace Rothstein was right, its basically Disneyland. But theres still something of an allure to Vegas to fresh faced young folk. It remains the go to destination for 21st birthday parties, bachelor/bachelorette parties, first Communions. You can still consume as much as your body can handle but being as Ive been going to Vegas for more years than Id care to admit, theres an air of safety that lingers anywhere you go on The Strip. Whether its a good or bad thing at this point, who knows.
But at least it's shiny.
I think about this as I roam the casino floor and the rest of the Caesars complex. Im a huge fan of Todd Phillips and his movies, and Im worried that having Vegas as the backdrop is a bit passé. How much good ol American debauchery can you possibly have in Vegas anymore? Maybe the kind of fun Im looking for is out of my income bracket. The story for The Hangover is a bit reminiscent of Very Bad Things and even then the backdrop of Vegas seemed forced and the story unlikely. But Im loyal to people whos work I enjoy and if anyone can pull it off, I think Todd can.
On my way to dinner, I pass what could be a red carpet for some kind of event. Beyond the curtain is a club with the stereotypical oontz oontz oontz club music blasting. Does that song ever get updated? Theres a line 20 to 30 deep of really hot women waiting to get in. No doubt at least four of these women will be groped and apologized to tonight.
Zach Galifianakis passes by with two other dudes. I need an entourage. Or at least someone else to talk to.
At Raos for dinner with the other journos. Fresh gnocchi, calamari and lemon breast chicken is passed around. So is the wine. Outside at a private table, having dinner like a fancy gentleman. That is, had it not been for my dirty Kangol and equally dirty gym shoes. After dinner Alyssa the Director of PR for Caesars representatives takes a couple of us over to teach us bocce ball.
Think bowling without pins or fun.
Anne, the WB publicist, has set up a private No Limit Texas Hold Em tournament in the Caesars poker room between the 8 or 9 of us, so after dinner we end up at a private, sectioned off table. This is more my speed.
If youve ever been to a poker room, theyre all the same. You can get more fun from people in an Intensive Care Unit waiting room. No ones laughing, smiling, showing any emotion. Sure thats part of the game, but so is table talk and not many people are doing that either. 1:30 in the morning and half the people here are wearing sunglasses. Even though theres no ESPN cameras around, some of these folks are carrying on that way. Texas Hold Em has become the Solataire of the modern age and Im right there with it. For as much wine as Ive had, there could be 24 of us sitting at a table and I wouldnt care. Im amped. Its all about the cards, baby.
After this, I cried and wet myself.
Getting knocked out early sucks. No one likes to put in work with no reward but alas, its happened. Since its 2am and we have to be up for an 7:30 am call time, I welcome the gift.
Yeah, thats it.
Its a gift to get knocked out of a poker tournament early and get sleep.
Because sleep is better than money.
It sure is.
Im still on Chicago time, so Im up way too early for going to sleep way too late. The taste of free wine still strong in my mouth. Down on the casino main floor, in a tucked away little room is the press holding area. Comfortable couches and free water. One of us is missing and theres talk of this person winning big at the blackjack table. This person also placed in the top three, if not won, the poker tournament.
Sleep is better than money, I keep telling myself.
Anne, the WB publicist, asks if we want to check out a scene being filmed. Outside in the hotels only valet area, and the main entrance for the hotel, is a Hollywood movie being filmed. Were given headsets with an audio feed to the principles mics. Zach Galiafanakis and Ed Helms are at the valet area talking with writer/director Todd Phillips. After some back and forth, Todd retreats to the monitors and calls action. Its the following day after the bachelor party. Zach and Ed walk down the stairs towards the valet area. Zach is carrying a baby, says to Ed, It tastes like theres a homeless shelter in my mouth. They stand next to the curb, look at each other and start laughing.
Zach and Ed are in the throes of a good laugh. They try the scene again. It doesnt get as far as the last take before they break into fits of laughter. This goes on for another two or three takes.
Stay tuned for Zach's interview where he talks about jerking that baby off.
Once they finally manage to keep it cool, the scene continues. Bradley Cooper enters holding a cup of coffee. Everyone looks in bad shape. Theyre waiting on their car from the valet. Not much else happens in this scene other than a spoiler for the flick which I cant write about that. Were corralled back to the press pit for an interview with Zach Galiafankis.
After a few minutes Zach walks in. He looks like a man whos been drinking vodka in the mountains for weeks on end. He explains right off the bat that he didnt get in until 4 in the morning and hes paying for it. He tells us why he and Ed were laughing uncontrollably. After the official interview is over, Ed Helms comes in sporting a missing tooth and the worst outfit known to man. Hes essentially dressed like a 8 year old boy. But Ed barrels in with enthusiasm and energy that gives these tired sack of journos a much needed second wind. You know its bad if you need a second wind at 10 in the morning.
The interviews with Zach and Ed go great. About 5 minutes into the interview, Zach perked up and Ed was pretty much on 110 the whole time. These interviews will post throughout the week.
Back out on the set (valet area), the few curious bystanders has now gotten larger. Earlier it had been old people awake for an early breakfast buffet and people who didnt bother sleeping the night before. Now the crowd has expanded.
As the day progresses, the crowd gets bigger and bigger. The crowd is barricaded by a steel fence and
security guards. When theres a break in filming, the crowds are hustled through the one pathway leading into the hotel. Camera phones and video cameras are held up to film cameras filming a movie.
We grab some lunch and then head back to the press pit while the cast and crew grab a bite. Practically in a food coma, were told that Justin Bartha will be our next interview. He walks into the room with a National Treasure swagger and we conduct our interview.
Outside, back on set, the crew is setting up for a scene with Justin and the other three guys. Youd think U2 showed up to play an impromptu show. The amount of people standing around checking out the flick being filmed has shot up since earlier in the afternoon.
With our headsets on, the scene starts up. Zach, Ed, and Bradley are pushing Justin in a wheelchair out of the hotel and down a ramp. A confused Justin is asking what happened the previous night. Justins complexion is a deep orange. Sunburned. As they get near the valet area, a driver pulls up in a beat to shit car.
Director Todd Phillips finally has time in the busy shooting schedule to do an on set interview. We only have a few minutes but were able to find out how the story came to be, his thoughts on shooting digital and possible cameos in the film. We all know Mike Tyson, but who else?
Back in the press pit, its getting ugly. Talk of politics has fired some of us up and put others to sleep. Me, I have a flight in 2 hours and since I like talking politics as much as I like a catheter, theres a airport bar that has a drink with my name on it. Im heading out early.
Stay tuned for interviews with Zach Galiafanakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha and director Todd Phillips.
Visit the official Hangover website at HERE
The Hangover hits theaters June 5th, 2009.
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|Extra Tidbit:||Special thanks to Anne Chun from Warner Bros and Alyssa Bushey, Director of Public Relations for Caesars Palace.|