PARK CITY - We're going to be bringing you a sit-down interview I did with three of the actors from "Cedar Rapids" closer to the release of the film, but I can share with you the conversation I had with Ed Helms before we started.
It wasn't planned, so I didn't grab the audio of it, but the way the interview was set up, i was the first one seated so they could mic me. Helms came in next and sat down, and as they were putting his mic on, I mentioned that first "Hangover Part II" photo that appeared last week, and how much his new facial tattoo made me laugh.
As soon as I mentioned the image, Helms leaned forward, excited to talk about the movie. "You know there are a few other photos out there now, too, right?" I told him I had seen those as well, but the monkey one was the clearest indication of some of the differences we could expect this time around. He smiled when I said that. "Oh, no. This one's nothing like the first one." His smile got even bigger, and he repeated, "Nothing."
I asked him how it changed the dynamic shooting in Bangkok, and he said there was absolutely no comparison. In Vegas, you're a few hours from Los Angeles. You're staying in luxury hotels. Even the craziest places they shot in Vegas were still places in Vegas. By contrast, Helms admitted that the Bangkok shoot, which was four full months, was basically the comedy version of "Apocalypse Now," always on the edge of total chaos, shooting in places Helms said felt genuinely "unsafe."
That's fascinating to me, because even if I wasn't crazy about "Due Date," I like Phillips, and I think the success of "The Hangover" affected him in an interesting way. I think he feels like he doesn't have to prove anything to anyone except himself on this sequel, and it was him who insisted on the specific version of the title because of how much he loves "The Godfather Part II." Roman numerals and all.
"That's a little weird, though," said Helms, "because with 'The Godfather Part II,' that was a direct continuation of the story, and it's very much a sequel. This is so different in a lot of ways that I feel like…" He tried to figure out how to sum it up. "It's just a different level of what happens this time around. And I like that it's been real time between the movies. The time that really happened between the release of the first film and the release of the new one… that's how much time it's been between the events in the movies. And once we're overseas, once we're in Thailand, it's just…" And again, all he could do was shake his head, beaming at whatever mayhem they've put together.
Helms called it a demanding shoot, but he seems really proud of whatever it is they've concocted. The best thing about the conversation was knowing this isn't salesman I'm at the junket mode. This is just a guy who was pleased with the way something came together, happy to talk about it, and happy that people are starting to get a look at it, even if it's just a few stills.
"There are definitely things in this one that are moments that are there for fans of the first film, but we also go to such different places, and each of us has a different experience this time. I think it's going to surprise people."
Based on that last smile he gave me before we rolled tape to talk about "Cedar Rapids," I'm betting he's right about that.
"The Hangover Part II" will be in theaters May 26, 2011.
[Editor's note: Check out Helms talking about his new movie 'Cedar Rapids' at the world premiere this weekend in Park City.]
Everything: Sundance Film Festival
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