Alumnus Has Starring Role in The Hangover

June 1, 2009
By Chris Richter

The Hangover opens in theaters Friday, so you’ll probably see a lot of actor/comedian Zach Galifianakis ’92 (the one with the beard) this week in TV ads and interviews promoting the movie. Last weekend, The New York Times Magazine did a lengthy profile of Galifianakis, who “embodies the rebellion against the outmoded Comedy Club circuit.” Another Times article last week profiled the director, Todd Phillips, who tried to convince the film’s actors to get shot with a real Taser for one scene:

“He goes, ‘Look at these clips on YouTube,’ ” Mr. Galifianakis said. “ ‘It doesn’t hurt that much.’ And then the Warner Brothers lawyers stepped in, thank God.”

Update: The Hangover opens today, and Zach Galifianakis ’92 has gotten excellent reviews for his performance, including this, from film critic Roger Ebert:

Well, Zach Galifianakis’ performance is the kind of breakout performance that made John Belushi a star after Animal House. He is short, stocky, wants to be liked, has a yearning energy, was born clueless. It is a tribute to Galifianakis’ acting that we actually believe he is sincere when he asks the clerk at the check-in counter: “Is this the real Caesars Palace? Does Caesar live here?”

Former intern Daniel Johnson interviewed Galifianakis for the Spring 2007 issue of NC State. A couple of unpublished excerpts from Daniel’s interview are after the jump.

On getting started
I wanted to be an actor, but being from a small town [Wilkesboro], I really had no idea how to go about it. There was a lot of trial and error. Eventually, when I did stand up for the first time in the back of a hamburger joint in Times Square, as soon as I stepped off stage I knew that was the route I was going to take. It was difficult but thrilling at the time.

On Into the Wild
I’m playing a hunter. It’s a small part, and Sean Penn directed it. He called me out of the blue and was like, “Zach, it’s Sean Penn,” and I was like, “Uh-huh, whatever.” I didn’t have to audition, he just offered me the part. It was me and Sean Penn and Vince Vaughn in a hunting lodge for two weeks. . . . It was fun. People have this perception of [Sean Penn] as being this intense guy, but he was very nice and had a great sense of humor.

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