Q&A: Todd Phillips

The demented director of Road Trip, Old School, and The Hangover is back with the darkly hilarious road flick Due Date.

Your first feature was Road Trip, and your latest movie is Due Date, about two guys traveling cross-country. Are you a big fan of road movies?
Here’s the thing: The plots of my movies sound generic, but we try to do a spin on them. When I do a movie, it’s more about who has chemistry. Or antichemistry, in this case.

How did you decide to pair Robert Downey Jr. with Zach Galifianakis?
Zach is the funniest person I’ve ever met. He just sits down to eat lunch with you and you start laughing. And Downey’s one of the greatest actors alive, so even though I thought it was a bit of a long shot, I sent him the script.

Most people didn’t know about Zach until The Hangover, even though he’s been doing comedy for a long time.
He actually read for Road Trip more than 10 years ago, for Tom Green’s character, Barry. That would’ve been interesting. He has so much talent, but I always thought he wasn’t quite used properly in movies. Then the role of Alan came up in The Hangover, and I realized Zach could crush it. I’d be happy to bring Zach into every movie I do forever, but you have to let him soar with other directors. It’s like seeing your ex go out with other guys.

There’s death, violence, and a masturbating dog in this movie. Will fans of “Todd Phillips movies” be thrown by how dark Due Date gets?
It does get a little dark, but we still have that masturbating dog. I think there’s nothing more pure
than masturbating.

In Road Trip you have a cameo as the guy who wanted to suck on Amy Smart’s toes. In Old School you show up for an orgy. In The Hangover you’re caught going down on a girl in an elevator. You really give yourself classy roles.
I only work in R-rated movies directed by Todd Phillips. Actually, Juliette Lewis is the same character in Due Date as she was in Old School, and I’m playing that guy who showed up to the gangbang again. In my mind they’re the same couple, but in the legal departments at DreamWorks and Warner Bros., they’re not.

What’s up with Hangover 2?
I know sequels are perceived as a money grab, but we’re doing it because we want to make a movie that’s funnier and better than the first one. I’m treating it like the fucking Godfather II. A good portion of the movie takes place in Bangkok.

I thought of Bangkok because what word means something the way “Vegas” means something? Vegas means bad behavior and bad decisions, and Bangkok, to me, is a shadier and scarier version of that. It’s going to get dark, and somebody’s coming back in a body bag…I just don’t know who it is yet. It’s probably going to be me.

Will Mike Tyson be involved?
Mike texts me all the time. He’s the greatest guy on the planet. I know he’s had transgressions, but he’s a different man these days. He’s become a really close friend, and it’s hard to say no to Mike. Let me put it that way.