It's probably safe to say that the final casting for "The Hangover" series all worked out for the best, with Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis as the constantly put-upon Wolf Pack. However, like most Hollywood productions, the final dramatis personae bears little resemblance to the potential line-up that was pursued early on.
Two huge -- and infamously troubled -- celebrities, Lindsay Lohan and Mel Gibson, were both considered for "Hangover" roles but wound up not making the cut.
Jade, the prostitute/stripper/single mom and Stu's impromptu bride, was played by Heather Graham in a sort of meta-nod to her Rollergirl character in "Boogie Nights" (indeed, Jade could be seen as a middle-aged version of the former porn star). But before Graham was cast, director Todd Phillips met with "Mean Girls" star Lohan, who was ultimately deemed too young for the part.
"I did meet with Lindsay Lohan a little bit [before casting Graham], and we talked," Phillips told The Hollywood Reporter. "Honestly, it felt like she ended up being too young for what we were talking about. People love to attack her for everything, like: 'Ha, she didn't see how great 'The Hangover' was going to be. She turned it down.' She didn't turn it down. She loved the script, actually. It really was an age thing."
And then there's the Bangkok tattoo artist in "The Hangover Part II," a character that was almost portrayed by both Gibson and Liam Neeson. While Phillips is a longtime fan of the "Braveheart" filmmaker, some members of his cast and crew weren't quite as enthusiastic.
"I'm a huge fan of Mel Gibson as a filmmaker and as an actor, and he was going through a weird thing at that time, and I thought, 'Wouldn't it be cool if we had him come in and do this role?'" Phillips said. "So I went over to his office and met with him. In fairness, I hadn't consulted with the crew and the cast, which is a family. I hadn't even cleared it with Warner Bros. I was just like, 'I'm just going to show up, and we're going to do this thing, and it'll be great.' Not everybody felt the same way about him."
Once Phillips talked it through with Warner Bros., Gibson got the boot. "Mel was actually great about the whole thing," he said.
Liam Neeson actually took on the role but that wound up being cut, too. "We had to reshoot [Liam's] scene, but he was already in London shooting ["Wrath of the Titans"]. So I got Nick Cassavetes to do it," Phillips recalled.
Helms, who plays Dr. Stu (even though many have argued that dentists aren't "real" doctors), was the first actor attached to "The Hangover," which required an elaborate schedule-shuffling scheme with NBC due to the star's commitment to "The Office" (and a lot of Red Bull). However, several actors were considered for the roles of Phil and Alan before Phillips went with Cooper and Galifianakis, including Paul Rudd and Jack Black, who both passed.
The role of Alan, the film's sweet-natured enfant terrible perfectly portrayed by Galifianakis, particularly went through several incarnations and potential actors.
"When we were writing, we did have [other actors] in mind," Phillips said. "Quite honestly, we were writing the brother-in-law as a younger brother they had to take along with them -- like a Jonah Hill character instead of Zach [Jake Gyllenhaal also was considered]."
Alan truly came to life when Phillips started picturing the comedic potential of having the Wolf Pack's most troubled member be the same age as the others.
"Then we thought it'd be so much more awkward if it was an older brother who's still at home," said Phillips, noting that Thomas Haden Church was also strongly considered. "I've always been a huge fan of Zach [as a comedian and actor]."
Finally, John Goodman is the newest member of "The Hangover" family, playing the vengeful villain who sends the boys on their latest quest in "Part III." According to the IMDB, both Robert Downey Jr., who worked with Phillips and Galifianakis in "Due Date" (2010), and Sean Penn were previously considered for the role. The idea of Tony Stark or Jeff Spicoli roughing up the Wolf Pack is certainly an amusing one ... Todd Phillips apparently thought so, too.
"The Hangover" trilogy comes to an end with "Part III" hitting theaters on May 24.
Watch 'The Hangover Part III' Online Trailer: