In October of 2008, ComingSoon.net was lucky enough to visit the set of the original The Hangover, shooting outside a luxury hotel on the Las Vegas strip. Though it was impossible to predict back then the tremendous response audiences would have to the antics of Phil, Stu and Alan, there was the sense of three relatable guys taking on America’s bigger-than-life Sin City. Vegas is a town built on money, lights and entertainment and promises that even the most excessive transgressions can ultimately be overlooked with a knowing wink.
Flash forward nearly two years later and we’re leaning against a decaying gray wall in a filthy, dimly-lit stairwell. An elevator shaft is torn open, revealing the messy black gears from its mechanical innards. Against the wall, a sign reads “FAMILY IS YOUR LIFE. DRUG IS EVIL.” It’s a far cry from Caesar’s Palace and nowhere to be found is the safety net of “whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Bangkok’s not a town where you can safely fall out of line.
“What it boils down to is that when you say the word ‘Las Vegas’ it means something,” explains returning writer/director Todd Phillips, “When we talked about doing the sequel and we talked about a location, I wanted to find a city where the word meant something… When you say a word like ‘Bangkok,’ it means something. There’s not a lot of cities where the word literally brings a picture to your mind.”
While a great deal of production actually took place in Bangkok, we’re not actually standing in a decrepit Thai motel. It’s an elaborate set on the soundstage of the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, but it’s huge, spanning multiple floors and containing several fully-realized rooms.
From around a corner comes a very friendly-looking yellow lab named Tucker. He belongs to Todd and seems to have free-reign of the set. Having made cameos in previous films of his owner’s, Tucker is set for some major exposure in The Hangover Part II, his likeness featured on Alan’s (Zach Galifiankis) on-screen T-shirt throughout.
Today’s scene is a big one as, just like in the first film, all three leading men wake up from their mysterious night on the town. Stu (Ed Helms) comes to consciousness in a bathtub in his underwear and, though he’s got his tooth intact this time around, he’s horrified to find a Mike Tyson-style tattoo on the side of his face. Already freaking out about the marking, Stu begins to scream when something leaps onto his back. It’s a capuchin monkey, which runs to the top of the shower as Alan and Phil (Bradley Cooper) enter. Alan’s overjoyed to see a monkey and seems oblivious to the fact that his head has been shaved, instead reaching out to try and pet the creature.
The monkey, an animal actor named Crystal, was on her best behavior, even joining the visiting journalists for lunch (which, in her case, was mostly cherry tomatoes). Though it wasn’t revealed exactly how big a role she’ll play in the film, her presence was a welcome change of pace from the first film’s tiger.
“With the tiger you’re always on edge,” laughs Helms, still standing in his underwear on the set, “and you always have to keep your distance. The monkey is far less threatening, so you’re more relaxed around the monkey. I think that’s actually probably hazardous.”
“We did get a little too comfortable with the tiger, too,” adds Cooper, “It started by saying ‘keep a hundred and fifty feet away’ and by the end she was walking through craft services.”
Now in the third week of production, the cast and crew are gearing up to move the shoot to Thailand to film on-location. Though Phillips is familiar with the city, it’ll be the first time for all of the cast.
“Just going to an exotic place is going to be fun,” says Galifianakis, “especially with this movie and this cast. Todd has found a place where danger exists and I think that element really helps the movie.”
“Personally,” jokes Helms, “I am looking forward to a terrible heat stroke and parasites in Thailand.”
While the aim of the film is definitely to create a stark contrast to the opulence of Vegas, Phillips promises that the tone of the sequel won’t be too depressing.
“It’s still an R-rated studio comedy,” he says, “We’re not making ‘Apocalypse Now’ but, just like the first one, a lot of the comedy comes from some of the darker and more twisted and f–ed up situations. So we’re not shying away from it, but it’s not going to be intentionally so much darker. Don’t let this set fool you.”