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The Hangover movies are filled to the brim bizarre, weird, and crazy characters, but there’s no denying that Zach Galifianakis’ Alan is king among them. Not only does he regularly pull off crazy stunts – like, for example, drugging his closest friends – even in general conversation it’s clear that something is clearly off-base. So how does one even begin to enter the mind of a character like that?
While on the set of The Hangover Part III late last year myself and a small group of other film journalists got to talk to Galifianakis about just that. Speaking with the actor in between scenes we had the chance to talk about not only accessing the mind of such an incredible weirdo, but also how he’s grown as an actor over the last four years, what’s been going on with Alan in the two years since the events of the last movie, and how the wardrobe plays an integral part of the character – and you can read our entire conversation below.
So when we got to talk to Todd Phillips earlier, he mentioned that this is kind of Alan's movie. And I'm kind of curious how that's changed the experience of making the film for you.
This is the first I've heard of it. Well, I think in all the movies, the character Alan is the catalyst for things to go wrong. And this movie is Alan coping with the things that he's done wrong and coming to grips with that. So there's the other side of it, not just the mishaps of the character, it's also him trying to improve himself, which is kind of fun to do.
Like a coming-of-age story…
Well, it's hard to come of age when you're forty-three. The character's forty-three. I'm obviously twenty-two years old. Yeah, in a way it is Alan's awakening, a little bit. Sure.
Knowing him so well now, did anything surprise you when you read the script?
No. I mean, the thing about this character is that he can do anything he wants and nothing really has to make sense. And you can kind of get away with anything with this character, which means that there really isn't that much of a surprise. The surprise, I think, as far as the storytelling goes, is probably the coping with Alan's past tragedies.
Do we see a lot more of his past, or do you mean in the other films?
No, it's not so much seeing it. He's being reminded that he's this person and he's kind of forced to seek help.
In the second one, I loved the relationship with Alan and his family. How did you guys build on that for this one?
Yeah, it's a bit… answering these questions is a little bit of a minefield because you don't want to give away anything. But there is a family dynamic here, to be sure.
Just as far as how your interaction with your family…
Yeah, there's more of that in this one for sure. You go a little deeper with that stuff in this one, I think. As deep as we can get. I mean, I don't want to oversell it that we're doing a Merchant Ivory film here. More like Merchant Ivory Wayans. Happy? Old soundbite for ya!
It's a good one. I'm sure I've used it before for other things.
Can you comment on your wardrobe for this one, because Alan's had some pretty spectacular costumes in the past.
You know, the wardrobe – not to sound too actor-y, but the wardrobe in these movies, especially with Alan's character, is something we do give some thought to here and there. What I have on now is probably the tamest of the outfits. But I know why I'm wearing horizontal stripes. Because it makes you look fatter. And I know Todd was disappointed because I'd lost some weight. And I haven't talked to him about this, but I know that's why he put horizontal stripes on me. I'm not an idiot. The wardrobe is consistent with the other wacky stuff that he puts on. I really wanted him to wear a "Trump for President" shirt, but we thought that might be a little dated. He's a rich kid and he doesn't have a lot of thoughts so it just seemed right.
It was kind of touched on a little bit in the second film, but after your experiences with Phil and Stu, they can't exactly have a lot of trust in their relationship with you. Is that something that is explored further in this movie as well?
Yeah, the tricky thing is, "Why are these guys still hanging out with this guy?" But having said that, I think that this guy, meaning Alan, provides a certain excitement that they might not get in their regular nine-to-five lives. So I think that's the attraction. He's a loose cannon, but he does provide some excitement for them. But at this point, you would think they, especially Stu, would not have anything to do with him. But Stu's a dentist who doesn't have a lot going on, so he goes on these wild rides with him.
Todd was saying how there's a two-year gap between all of these movies. There's a two-year gap between One and Two, a two-year gap between Two and Three. Do you fill in the gaps for yourself for what happened with Alan in those two years?
Yeah. I think with any kind of job that you get in the entertainment business, as far as acting goes, you do, or at least I do, I try to create things that he's done in the part you have not seen in a movie. From my point of view, Alan always… I think [people] think he was screw-up all the time, born that way. In my mind, he was a disc jockey, he was a DJ at raves, and he took a lot of ecstasy in his twenties and he just made his mind blank. And so the two years since the last one, there's really nothing much going on except more stupidity. He's not the deepest person in the world. But yeah, that's a good question. What does the audience expect the evolution to be of the characters? Have we been hanging out since this whole time? You find out that we really don't hang out that much, at least me and the other guys. Maybe they send a text here and there, that kind of thing. But he's happy to see them again. I wish the third movie was just the three of us sitting around and playing Monopoly and nothing really happens. That would be amazing. A two-hour long movie. We're discussing Sartres. That would be amazing! That's what I would like to do. But yeah, it is something you do consider since there is a gap. But in the end, it's just a movie-going audience. They just want to be entertained for a couple of hours, especially with a big comedy like this. We don't take ourselves too seriously and dig too deep here.
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