Set Visit: The Hangover

Bradley Cooper interview / Zach Galifianakis interview / Ed Helms interview / Justin Bartha interview / Todd Phillipps interview


Walking into the Caesars Palace hotel & casino, with its beautiful sculptures, fountains and Roman décor, it’s almost too easy to hit the casino floor and squander away more money than you promised you would.  It’s here, at the fountain, inside of the casino’s entrance that I first see Zach Galifianakis.

I think, Oh yeah, he’s in this movie.

Check out three new character banners from THE HANGOVER here!

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.  It’s later in the evening and he’s doing the “body blowing in the wind” thing that drunks recognize in each other.  He’s 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.

“Hey Zach.”

He looks over, not turning his body, and gives me the “what’s up” head nod.  Then he looks back into space or the fountain, I have no idea.  And that’s 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 I’m sure you’ve seen by now.   For the uninitiated, The Hangover follows four dudes on their trek to Las Vegas for their buddy’s 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 there’s a tiger in the room.  And a baby.  And Mike Tyson’s 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, it’s basically Disneyland.  But there’s 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 I’ve been going to Vegas for more years than I’d care to admit, there’s an air of safety that lingers anywhere you go on The Strip.  Whether it’s 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.  I’m a huge fan of Todd Phillips and his movies, and I’m 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 I’m 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 I’m loyal to people who’s 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?  There’s 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 Rao’s 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 you’ve ever been to a poker room, they’re all the same.   You can get more fun from people in an Intensive Care Unit waiting room.  No one’s laughing, smiling, showing any emotion.  Sure that’s 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 there’s 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 I’m right there with it.  For as much wine as I’ve had, there could be 24 of us sitting at a table and I wouldn’t care.  I’m amped.  It’s 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, it’s happened.  Since it’s 2am and we have to be up for an 7:30 am call time, I welcome the gift.

Yeah, that’s it.

It’s a gift to get knocked out of a poker tournament early and get sleep.

Because sleep is better than money.

It sure is.


I’m still on Chicago time, so I’m 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 there’s 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 hotel’s only valet area, and the main entrance for the hotel, is a Hollywood movie being filmed.  We’re 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.  It’s 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 there’s 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 doesn’t 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.  They’re waiting on their car from the valet.  Not much else happens in this scene other than a spoiler for the flick which I can’t write about that.  We’re corralled back to the press pit for an interview with Zach Galiafankis.

After a few minutes Zach walks in.  He looks like a man who’s been drinking vodka in the mountains for weeks on end.  He explains right off the bat that he didn’t get in until 4 in the morning and he’s 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.  He’s 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 it’s 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 didn’t 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 there’s 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, we’re 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.  You’d 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.  Justin’s complexion is a deep orange.  Sunburned.  As they get near the valet area, a driver pulls up in a beat to shit car.

And scene.

Director Todd Phillips finally has time in the busy shooting schedule to do an “on set” interview.  We only have a few minutes but we’re 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, it’s 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, there’s a airport bar that has a drink with my name on it.  I’m 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.

Extra Tidbit: Special thanks to Anne Chun from Warner Bros and Alyssa Bushey, Director of Public Relations for Caesars Palace.
Source: JoBlo.com



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