We’ve had comedies in the past where grown men behaved badly. But it really wasn’t until 2009’s The Hangover that it pretty much became a genre in itself. So much so, that Bridesmaids was often, some might say unfairly, referred to as a “female version” upon its release in 2011. To note, The Hangover cast, which included the likes of Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, and many others, most likely had no idea what a massive hit the film would eventually become. In fact, The Hangover was, at the time, the highest grossing R-Rated comedy of all time, until it was surpassed by, you might have guessed it, The Hangover Part II in 2011.
Why did this story about men who go on a wild bachelor party that goes wrong resonate so much with audiences? Honestly, if I knew the answer to that, I’d be a multimillionaire, since I’m pretty sure nobody would have imagined that it would become a whole trilogy of films. That said, with a cast like this, I actually kind of get it, since it’s so jam-packed with stars. So, what are those stars doing today? Well, you saw the title of this article. You’re about to find out.
Bradley Cooper (Phil Wenneck)
Yes, while Bradley Cooper was in a bunch of notable films before The Hangover, namely Wet Hot American Summer and Wedding Crashers, I think it’s safe to say that a lot of movie-goers began to fall in love with the talented actor with The Hangover. Since then, he’s had a very successful career, both in television and in film. On the TV side, Nip/Tuck fans will remember his brief stint on the show as Aidan Stone, and he also did some episodes on TV shows based on films he’s been in such as 2015’s Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, and also a few episodes of Limitless.
On the film side, some of his most notable work, post the first Hangover, was The A-Team, Silver Linings Playbook, where he was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actor, American Hustle (Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination), American Sniper (Best Actor nomination again), and 2018’s A Star Is Born, where he was again nominated for Best Actor, but he also directed and sang the hit song, “Shallow,” which won a Grammy for Best Original Song. MCU fans will know him best as talking raccoon, Rocket, in the Guardians of the Galaxy series. 2021 is actually a really busy year for Cooper, because he’ll be in an untitled Paul Thomas Anderson movie, a psychological thriller called Nightmare Alley, and is also voicing Rocket again in Thor: Love and Thunder.
Zach Galifianakis (Alan Garner)
While Bradley Cooper was definitely one of the breakout stars of the first Hangover, I like to think that Zach Galifianakis (and one other actor I will get to later) also shot into the stratosphere after this film. I actually wonder what he’s had a bigger role on, the big screen or the small. On the TV end, prior to The Hangover, I remember seeing him in some of my favorite shows like Wonder Showzen, The Sarah Silverman Program, and Tim and Eric Awesome Show. Great Job!. After The Hangover, he was in the immensely popular Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis, which even became a movie, Comedy, Bang, Bang, and of course, Baskets.
On the film end, he’s been probably even more prolific following The Hangover. Besides two Hangover sequels, he also did another Todd Phillips comedy, Due Date with Robert Downey Jr., costarred in the underappreciated The Campaign with Will Farrell, and could arguably be considered one of the greatest Jokers ever in Lego Batman. He’ll next be voicing a robot in the sci-fi animated comedy, Ron’s Gone Wrong, as the titular character.
Ed Helms (Stu Price)
Ed Helms was actually pretty well known prior to The Hangover since he portrayed Andy Bernard on The Office, but his brand of humor was definitely appreciated in the raunchy comedy. On TV, he’s been popping up here and there since the hit movie in shows like The Mindy Project, The Muppets, and as a voice on Bojack Horseman. He’s also currently on the Peacock original show Rutherford Falls.
Film-wise, Ed Helms was in one of my favorite comedies of the past few years, Cedar Rapids. He also played Clark Griswold’s son, Rusty, in Vacation, the sixth movie in the series, and was even the narrator for the Disney Nature documentary, Penguins. His latest movie is the Nikole Beckwith comedy Together Together.
Ken Jeong (Leslie Chow)
Ken Jeong is the other big star who really broke out after his role in The Hangover. He'd been in a string of great films prior to that movie as well, most notably Knocked Up, Step Brothers, Pineapple Express, and Role Models. But, after The Hangover, I feel like he was in everything. Some notable films include Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Crazy Rich Asians, and he even had a surprising cameo in the once biggest movie in the world, Avengers: Endgame, as a security guard. In 2021 alone, if all goes according to plan, he will have been in six movies, including Tom & Jerry, Boss Level, and even a My Little Pony film called, My Little Pony: A New Generation as a voice actor. He is also supposed to star in Charlie Day’s directorial debut, El Tonto, which still doesn’t have a release date yet.
Ken Jeong is probably most known for his TV work. The very real doctor was probably most famous for his role as Ben Chang on Community, but he also starred in his own show titled (What else?) Dr. Ken, which ran for two seasons. He can currently be seen as a judge on The Masked Singer, as well as its spin-off, The Masked Dancer. His next TV role is TBA for a release date, but it will be a voice role for a series based off of the movie Wonder Park, called Adventures in Wonder Park.
Justin Bartha (Doug Billings)
Funnily enough, we barely even saw Justin Bartha in the first Hangover movie even though he’s the actual groom they’re having the bachelor party for in the first place. We got to see a lot more of him in the sequels, though. On the TV end, he was on 17 episodes of The Good Wife sequel, The Good Fight, and he most recently had a recurring role on the crime drama, Godfather of Harlem.
In film, Justin Bartha starred in movies like CBGB, Sticky Notes, Against the Clock, and will next be seen in the upcoming Jason Mamoa action thriller, Sweet Girl, on Netflix.
Heather Graham (Jade)
Heather Graham's first movie was all the way back in 1984, in the Diane Keaton film, Mrs. Soffel. Since then, she's been in a ton of great stuff before The Hangover, such as Swingers and Boogie Nights. In fact, The Hangover was actually more of a resurgence to her career rather than a jumping off point. Following The Hangover, she was also featured in The Hangover Part III, Horns, the Netflix flick, Love, Guaranteed, and will also star in an upcoming horror film called Oracle.
On the television side, she’s been in shows like Portlandia, Californication, Get Shorty, and was also Rita Blakemoor in the recent The Stand series.
Mike Tyson (Himself)
Lastly, if you ask anybody—anybody at all—what they remember most about the first Hangover movie, they will almost certainly tell you that they remember when the four friends actually looked at the pictures of the night they blacked out on, and then, they’ll tell you they remember Mike Tyson singing “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins before he knocked out Zach Galifianakis’s character.
Since The Hangover, “Iron” Mike Tyson has been keeping busy. Besides reappearing in The Hangover Part II, he was also in Scary Movie 5, playing himself, and Ip Man 3. He was also in a number of TV shows, most notably the grossly underappreciated animated comedy, Mike Tyson Mysteries. Last year, he got back in the ring to fight Roy Jones Jr. in an exhibition match, and with Logan Paul recently calling him out, maybe we’ll see Tyson strap on the gloves again to fight the YouTube celebrity. Only time will tell.
The Hangover is one of those lighting in a bottle movies that we may never see again ever in our lifetimes. Sure, R-Rated comedies are still being made, but I can’t think of any that might blow up like The Hangover, but who’s to say? For news on 2021 movies (or maybe you’re already thinking ahead to 2022 movies) make sure to stop by often!
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Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.