If you see Justin Bartha in Vegas and you shout that Hangover catchphrase in his direction, he may smile. But you should know he’s heard it before.
by Shep Morgan
Vegas hasn’t been the same for Justin Bartha since he costarred in The Hangover, the bawdy-humored caper that became the highestgrossing R-rated comedy ever. “People loved it,” he says, “but it was an even bigger deal in Sin City,” he explains, adding that the people of Las Vegas seem to have adopted The Hangover as “their ultimate hometown movie.”
But unlike his character in the original, Bartha won’t go missing anytime soon on his next visit to the Strip. “I definitely get recognized when I go there for a weekend—from casinos and restaurants to just walking down the Strip,” he says and with a shrug adds, “And I don’t mind if they call me Doug.”
Bartha came back as Doug in The Hangover Part II, which took the Wolfpack to Thailand for more weird and raucous adventures. And he’s not surprised that the sequel is a huge hit. “It pushes the envelope even farther,” he says. “But it still makes people of all ages laugh. I got messages from people’s grandparents saying that they got a huge kick out of the first one, so I guess we have a pretty wide demographic.”
Bartha says filming in Bangkok wasn’t exactly the same as hanging out in a Vegas hotel. “It’s a wonderful exotic locale,” he remembers, “but there’s a little air of danger hovering around and it’s incredibly hot and sticky. You just try to forget the humidity, wipe off your sweat and pretend like you just dipped in the pool.”
“It was a little different at Caesars Palace,” he continues. “There’s a whole world there, from The Forum Shops and gourmet restaurants to the casinos. Most of the original was filmed inside or at night and,” he adds jokingly, “I’ve always loved Vegas, but when we finally left we were kind of squinting at the sun because we hadn’t seen it for so long.”
The handsome, blue-eyed 33-year-old from Michigan first got noticed playing a psychologically disturbed young man kidnapped from a mental hospital in Gigli, which starred Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Bartha’s big break came when he landed the role of Nicolas Cage’s geeky, wise-cracking sidekick in the hugely popular National Treasure movies. And then, of course, he scored big in The Hangover.