As the world readies for the last adventures of Phil, Stu and Alan – known collectively as “The Wolf Pack” in The Hangover franchise whose final installment is set to hit theaters May 24, The Hollywood Reporter put together an expansive oral history of the popular franchise. Chronicling early stages of production, casting decisions, the inclusion of Mike Tyson, and the infamous closing credits full of real debauchery, the oral history serves as a good behind-the-scenes look at just how much hangs in the balance when a movie is trying to reach “fade out.” Below is a choice excerpt while the entire piece can be read here.
TODD PHILLIPS: I was sort of doing this other project at Warner Bros., possibly with Jack Black, and Jack pulled out of it. I took this spec script [for The Hangover] and thought, “This is a really interesting idea.” I brought it to Jeff Robinov at Warner Bros. and said: “Look, here’s this movie. We’re going to rewrite it.” The thing that was there was that these guys lost the groom and couldn’t remember what they did. That was all there.
BRADLEY COOPER: The characters were different in the original script. I was a used-car salesman. There wasn’t a Mr. Chow. I mean, Todd created everything.
PHILLIPS: No Tyson, baby or tiger. And there was no cop car. [Co-writer] Jeremy Garelick and I sat down in my house and just started writing. We kind of went backward, like, what would be the craziest thing you could wake up to? A tiger? Well, why would a tiger be there? Siegfried & Roy? Nah, that feels typical. Oh, you know what’s funny? Mike Tyson. I once read he has tigers. They stole it from Mike Tyson.
Once the script was finished, Helms, co-starring on NBC’s The Office, first was cast as everyman dentist Stu. The other roles were more difficult. After Paul Rudd and Jack Black (among others) passed, Phillips focused on lesser-known actors. But without stars, Warner Bros. and co-financier Legendary Pictures insisted that the film’s mid-$40 million budget be trimmed and Phillips’ $6.5 million directing fee be cut in half (with the rest paid only if the movie was a success). Phillips’ CAA agent Todd Feldman and attorney Warren Dern came back with a different proposal: The director would forgo his fee almost entirely in exchange for what sources say is a 16 percent stake in the film. Warners agreed, and the arrangement ultimately would earn Phillips nearly $70 million from the first Hangover.