'Old School' and 'Road Trip' director Todd Phillips was in Dublin for the Irish premiere of his new film 'The Hangover' and spoke to RTÉ.ie.
He wasn't alone, the five stars of the film Heather Graham, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Justin Bartha also travelled from the States. Phillips talked about the film, his cast and plans for both 'Old School 2' and 'The Hangover 2'.
Taragh Loughrey-Grant: It's all too rare that directors decide to premiere their film in Ireland, so it's great to have you all here.
Todd Philips: Thank you, I've heard nothing but great things about Dublin so it's so great to be here, I've always wanted to come. We've just arrived but I hope we get to see a bit of the city and countryside.
TL-G: Congratulations on 'The Hangover' going to the No.1 spot in the US box-office. However when you first approached Warner's with these three relatively unknown leads, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis, what was Warner's reaction?
TP: Well thank you first of all. I have a really good relationship with Warner's and they trust me. I think, as obviously as it sounds, film-making is based on numbers and I will say that Warner's said if you can make it for this amount, you can make it with whoever you want and you can make it R rated [Restricted or 18's].
There's a certain amount of freedom that comes if you keep your budget low so I was just keen to do that so we could use whoever we wanted. I thought it was important for this film in particular that we use brand new faces. There are plenty of actors I love in Hollywood but there's something about when you look at that poster that feels so real because you haven't seen them in a million movies.
There's something also about when you put Jack Black in your movie or Ben Stiller, as great as they are they come with baggage from other movies that people give to them. You sort of go in [to see the film] with your arms crossed and in this, I feel, you're going in with your arms open because it's just three new faces and you feel that you're discovering them.
TL-G: The style of comedy in 'The Hangover' is typical of your previous comedies, in that it is quite humanised, with a couple of surreal twists. Therefore having new faces possibly helps with investing in the comedy.
TP: That is really important because I do think some of the situations in the movie are so unreal that suddenly if you did put in Jack Black or one of those guys it just doesn't feel right and it's so important for me to ground this in a real way. So again I think going with those guys who we haven't seen a million times helps to ground the reality in this unbelievable ridiculous scenario.
TL-G: Following 'Old School', did you feel the pressure to deliver another huge comedy hit?
TP: You know I don't really like to think about it but yeah, there's always a little bit of pressure but 'Old School' certainly in the States really permeated. I don’t think it was as big over here...
TL-G: It was huge, perhaps more so through word of mouth on DVD but a huge hit nonetheless
TP: Okay, cool. I think the key with both these movies is that they're better than you think they'll be because they sound very clichéd on what they're about but they really transcend that with the casting and they're just a little cleverer than you think they're going to be.
So is there a pressure? You always want your movie to be good and you always want it to be embraced the way 'Old School' was embraced but you can't think like that because sometimes it feels like a once in a career thing and yet 'The Hangover' has outperformed on so many levels already that I'm really excited about.
TL-G: It may also take a while before audiences have their favourite scenes or lines like with 'Old School' and 'Frank the Tank' classics!
TP: I think there are a lot of quotable moments in 'The Hangover' that you're right, will come out when the DVD comes out and people start watching it a few times and realise the lines that really pop.
TL-G: Do you think the worldwide recession has resulted in a greater thirst for comedies?
TP: When comedies work, it’s a good time for them anytime. You think back on the last 30 years, whenever there's a good comedy, people go see it, and they like to laugh. It happens to be that we're going through some tough things in the States and worldwide, people are going through economic hardship and it’s a weird time so maybe it feels a little more relevant but I think it's pretty much a universal thing that people like to laugh.
TL-G: 'Old School 2', 'The Hangover 2', What can you tell us?
TP: I think we'll be doing 'Old School 2' before 'The Hangover 2' gets to see the light of day. When guys reach a certain level like Vince [Vaughn] and Will [Ferrell] did in the States its very hard to make all those planets align, schedule wise, money wise so it’s a tough project to mount, 'Old School 2'.
However 'The Hangover 2', these guys are great, they're realistic, and we're all at a place where we're hungry to do it. We'd such a great time making the movie that I don't think it'll be so hard putting that one together.