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Q&A with the Director of The Hangover II
<p>Drunken mishaps are never not funny</p>
by Mikey Agulto | Jun 2, 2011
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Hangover II opens in theatres June 8. We don't particularly need to intellectualize the premise of its fantastic wedding mishaps, but, it's great to hear Director Todd Phillips talk about filming in Bangkok, Stu, and Crystal the Monkey.

[firstpara]How much did the film change from when you were first thinking about Bangkok to when you were actually filming in Thailand?
Oh, a hundredfold.  I mean, it changes always, and it changes every morning when we’re shooting; it’s just constant. 

I always say the script is a living, breathing organism. It’s just not set in stone in the way that I think some movies are. You have to go with the rhythm that the movie’s giving you. It’s jazz.

It’s not math. There’s no formula to it. It gets its own rhythm and then you kind of follow that rhythm. So, yeah, that’s just something that I think is key.

 What were the people like in Thailand?  I know you had a lot of crew from Thailand on the film. 
They were amazing.  As a people, they call it the ‘Land of a Thousand Smiles’ and that is what you feel.  It’s just such a gentle, amazing group of people.

Directing Hangover II, when did you first feel that all this was working?
It was day one. I mean, it was kind of amazing because on day one, we were shooting at the IHOP—that silly scene where they’re talking about, ‘Hey, Alan wants to come to the wedding.’  

I’ve never done a sequel before, but clearly it’s easier to make a sequel in some respects, certainly for the actors because if they want to talk about their back-story, you’re like, ‘Just go watch the first movie.  There’s your back-story.’  They know who the character is.

It’s easier to write a movie that’s a sequel, for me. It was easier to make the movie. It was easier for them, I think, to act in the movie because we all knew our respective roles and we all knew where we fit in this sort of fiefdom of the film and it just immediately gelled together.

How does it work when you’re evolving a scene—does everyone give input? 
Yeah.  That becomes just solely about me and the actors at that point. There’s a certain point where everybody just has to disappear; we go off into a corner if something’s not working and just figure it out. It literally happens every day and that’s not to say that we throw away the script, because we don’t. 

It always ends up being a version of what we had written. The rhythm of it changes and that’s just something I’m super open to. I find that it breathes new life into what sometimes feels a little bit stiff. 

Hangover II really focused on Ed Helms’ character, Stu.  Where does Stu go in this film?
Well, Stu, to me, has always been the character in both movies that ninety percent of the audience identifies with.  I think audiences always choose a character and watch the movies through their eyes, whatever the movie is, and I think in The Hangover, most normal people watch it through Stu’s eyes.  I happen to watch it through Alan’s eyes, but okay. 

Next: On Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis

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