June 6, 2009 -- It's the ultimate cliché: Three guys take their buddy to Vegas for a weekend of debauchery, celebrating the guy's last night as a single man. Chaos ensues, and everybody promises to let what happens in Vegas stay in Vegas.
That is the premise of the comedy "The Hangover" -- at least for the first 10 minutes -- and then it ... switches.
Two days before his wedding, Doug (Justin Bartha) and his three friends (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zack Galifianakis) drive to Vegas for an unforgettable night. The groomsmen wake up the next day to find a baby, a tiger and ... no groom. Naturally, they have no recollection of the nights events. The movie kicks in as the trio retrace what happened in a desperate search for the groom.
Cooper, who plays Phil, is best known for the role of Zachary "Sack" Lodge in "The Wedding Crashers."
"Zach was the asshole boyfriend. So I was asked if I'm playing yet another dick. I don't see Phil that way. He's a father, a coach of the little league team who has the chance to break out in Vegas. He's got kids locked to his ankles. All that matters to him is his friends. He's the glue. His bark is bigger than his bite," said Cooper.
In preparation for the movie, Cooper jokes, "We did a lot of research for years. We're in litigation with Warner Bros to be paid retroactively."
Working on set with two improv-trained comedians was hard. "Watching how talented Ed and Zack are in the movie I feel utter hatred," said Cooper with mock seriousness.
Cooper, who prviously shared screen time with Vince Vaughn ("Wedding Crashers") and Jim Carrey ("Yes Man"), found Helms and Galifianakis as talented as Vaughn and Carrey. The competitiveness between the three was nonexistent, according to Cooper, and instead there was total collaboration.
"All three of us are basically unknown. Warner Bros. needs to be known as a comedy studio. So we all had a main goal -- make it work!" he said.
Mike Tyson's cameo in the movie was one of Cooper's favorite scenes, especially when Tyson sang "I Remember."
"He sounded like a robot," Cooper said.
Cooper's next project may be a big-screen adaptation of the classic '80s TV show, "The A-Team."
"I don't know," Cooper said. "You don't want to jinx anything. You don't want to look like an idiot if it doesn't happen. I think it would be a great project. Whether I'm in it or not, I would go see it and maybe urge others to see it to."
Cooper's break came in the "Sex and the City" episode "They shoot single people don't they?" He recalled shooting a scene at the Beauty Bar on 14th street in New York, and Sarah Jessica Parker's handler telling him, "Don't put your tongue in her mouth ... whatever you do."
He went on to star in more TV shows, including "Alias," "Kitchen Confidential" and "Nip/Tuck." His first feature film was playing a gay camp counselor in the independent comedy "Wet Hot American Summer," opposite Michael Ian Black.
Cooper's comedic icons are Peter Sellers and Richard Pryor.
"Richard Pryor's performances were right from his soul, and, with Peter Sellers, it was his mind and his wit," he said.
Cooper admits he is competitive, and watching other actors excel pushes him to become a better performer. The only movie that Cooper starred in that he felt did not get the attention it deserved was "Midnight Meat Train," based on a short story by Clive Barker, from last year.
Cooper played a photographer, Leon Kauffman, who is obsessed with the dark side of New York City and crosses paths with a serial killer.
"It was an old-school art-house horror movie -- so physically demanding. I would do it again. I would do it tomorrow," he said.
As an English major in college, Cooper wrote his thesis on Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita." His other passion is cooking. If he weren't an actor, he would be a chef and credits his Italian grandmother who was "an amazing cook. Every Sunday, there was pasta on every flat surface. They only spoke Italian in the kitchen, which became a fantasy place for me," he said.
Cooper heard there are plans to make "Paradise Lost" into a movie. At school he studied John Milton's 17th-century epic poem, which tells the story of Lucifer's fall and the temptation of Adam and Eve.
So what's the best role from that poem for him?
"To play Lucifer would be unbelievable," he said.