PHILADELPHIA — Barring the end of the world (it didn't happen Saturday, did it?) or the even less likely scenario in which no one bothers to go out this weekend to see three guys wake up completely blotto, there will be a Hangover Part III.
"Obviously, it will depend on the success of the second one," says Bradley Cooper, whose participation in the inaugural Hangover had more than a little to do with his rocket-launch to stardom.
"You never know," Cooper says, trying to sound cautious about the box-office prospects of the much-anticipated follow-up. "But if there's a sure thing ... ."
The first Hangover, released in 2009 and likewise co-starring Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms, earned $469.5 million worldwide. It was, in case you missed it, set in Las Vegas, where a bachelor party headed into a Bermuda Triangle of amnesia, anarchy and absurdist raunch. In director Todd Phillips' The Hangover Part II, which opened Thursday, the setting is more exotic: Bangkok. And the straits the trio find themselves in, believe it or not, are even crazier.
It's "Defcon 5 in Bangkok," Cooper says.
The actor, who recently dropped in on his hometown, Philadelphia, promises that when the third Hangover comes around, it will break from the formula. Like the first, Part II finds its protagonists unable to piece together the tumultuous events of the preceding evening. The fact that Helms' character, mild-mannered dentist Stu Price, wakes up with a tattoo across half his face is only the beginning of the mystery.
"I'll do a third no matter what," Cooper says. "We've all talked about it, Ed, Zach and I, and Todd, and it really is about us coming together and agreeing on a concept. And we've all agreed to the tone of the third one, and what it has to be — which is completely not adhering to the formula of the second.
"That said, I do think that this one had to adhere to the structure, so you can get to know the characters more — they're much more fully developed. Now we can depart from that. ... So, for the third one, there will be no missing night. It will be an interesting thing."
Cooper already has had a good box- office year. Limitless, the deft, dark thriller about a slacker scribe who takes a drug that makes him preternaturally smart and successful, was No. 1 in its opening weekend and has grossed close to $80 million domestically and $60 million overseas. It won terrific reviews, too.
This is how Cooper's next year is likely to go, at least as things stand now: After stops in Toronto, Cannes, New York, Los Angeles, New York again and Berlin, mostly to promote The Hangover Part II, Cooper goes to Montreal to start work on The Words.
"That's my buddy Brian Klugman, who I grew up with" Cooper says. "I've known him since I was about 10 years old. We went to high school together." "And he wrote this little movie about a writer. Jeremy Irons is doing it, Dennis Quaid, Amanda Seyfried, Zoe Saldana ... it's great. I looked at (the screenplay) the other day and I realized I have a huge role."
"I thought it was much smaller. Oh, shoot. You know that feeling you get before an exam? That's me right now."
And after The Words?
"Five days on a new movie by another buddy of mine, Dax Shepard." And then The Place Beyond the Pines, from Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance, with Blue Valentine's Ryan Gosling opposite Cooper. And then Paradise Lost in October — yes, the Milton poem about the devil and the fall of man — and then a reboot of the dark comic-book saga The Crow, to be directed by 28 Weeks Later's Juan Carlos Fresnadillo.
"Well, you know how it is," Cooper says with a grin, after running down his schedule. "None of that could happen — and then you'll see me walking down the street in a total daze."