Way back when Bradley Cooper first signed on to do the original Hangover, he was known around Hollywood as simply a "character" actor. Yet, since that first outrageous flick, he's gone on to become an Oscar-nominated leading man and bona fide dream boat. (Though, remember, by the time he graduated drama school he had already appeared on Sex and the City.) Later this year, he'll rejoin Silver Linings Playbook costar Jennifer Lawrence for the upcoming Serena, and next year he'll be back with wunderkind director David O. Russell. But, for now, Cooper is bidding The Hangover franchise a bittersweet goodbye. We got to gaze into his incredible blue eyes while he said goodbye to the trilogy...and got the scoop on the production's weirdest moments.
So, this movie is a bit darker than the previous two.
"All the characters are unhinged in the second one, they’re out of their comfort zone, they’re in a foreign land, they’re screaming at each other. They’re trying desperately to make their way but it’s not working. The third one is all about...the goal is to help Alan, to get Doug back but it’s also to help Alan and to be there for each other.
So, there are a lot more scenes in the third one, like the first one, driving in the car together, in between moments that the second one didn’t really have as much of. Because the city was chaotic, there weren’t these quiet moments by the roadside, finding a condom that he thinks is a snake skin. Those sorts of things weren’t able to happen in the second one where the third one, there was that room."
Zach’s character, Alan, does become the focal point in this one.
"For me, Alan is one of the most incredible creations of a comedic character in decades. So, the fact that this story revolves around just who the heck this guy is, and how we can tame the beast was a wonderful choice that Todd Phillips made and hopefully one that the audience wants to see."
Since the first Hangover, you’ve become the biggest star in the cast. Has the dynamic changed on set at all?
"I think we all think about it in terms of the story rather than each individual character. That’s what’s been so special about it. It does really feel like a communal endeavor, the filming of the movie, the logistics of every day attacking a scene, it does feel like it’s the four of us. Ideas are thrown and shared, there’s no ownership at all. People sort of say that about collaborative experiences, but this really is the case. It started in the first one but really manifested itself in a more economical way in the third one."
The comedy takes on an almost surreal quality. What was the weirdest moment in shooting?
"The best part of answering that is going through, 'What was the weirdest moment?' Was it the baby in the closet? Was it the monkey in the thing? No, it wasn’t that. Was it the decapitated giraffe?"
And what was the last day of shooting like?
"We were conscious of not making it a big deal, very conscious. There was no clapping or anything, we had a nice little party on the stage. It was on the stage at Warner Brothers but it wasn’t the last day. That’s the other thing, 'cause the last day really was the coda scene, which we shot recently. That was the actual last day, a month or two ago.”
And is that coda a tease for maybe a fourth movie?
"No, not opening up for another movie, just like a little piece of candy, actually. The ending of the movie is the ending down the hallway, this character, and closure. It ties up everything that you didn’t even know wasn’t tied up, little moments from the first two movies."
And next you’re working with Steven Spielberg on American Sniper. Are you moving away from comedy?
"Yeah, we bought the rights to that a year and a half ago. I don’t see it as separate things. As much as a drama that Silver Linings Playbook was, there was a lot of comedy in that movie and we were very conscious of that, too, while making it. And also this movie I’m doing right now, American Hustle, which is another David O. Russell movie. A lot of comedy. In an ideal world, the best dramas have gravity in it. I really don’t see it as two separate things at all. It’s just filmmakers. I just want to work with the best filmmakers."
Photo: Tony Larkin/Rex/Rex USA