Not long after The Hangover Part II began production, rumors surfaced that Mel Gibson would be making a brief appearance in the film as a tattoo artist. The first Hangover had set a precedent for controversial celebrity cameos by working Mike Tyson into the storyline and Gibson's involvement with the sequel implied that not only were the filmmakers aware of the troubled actor's reputation - they were probably intending to capitalize on it.
However, as Gibson's bad press reached a fever pitch, director Todd Phillips ultimately decided to replace him with a more affable star. Liam Neeson agreed to take over the role and was quickly dispatched to the set for a quick one day shoot. Evidently, the infamous tattoo parlor scene in The Hangover Part II has since undergone yet another alteration.
During the editing process, Phillips decided to cut the scene that immediately followed Neeson's cameo - which meant that certain plot points that were relayed in that scene now had to be divulged in the tattoo parlor instead. Unfortunately, Neeson's commitment to Wrath of the Titans made him unavailable for any additional shooting.
According to Variety, Phillips asked filmmaker Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook, Gotti: Three Generations) to step in and help reshoot that segment of the movie. In addition to his work behind the camera, Cassavetes has appeared in numerous films and television shows including Face/Off, Entourage, and Quantum Leap.
Of course, Cassavetes isn't anywhere near as recognizable to a general audience as Neeson - which certainly changes the nature of the cameo. I suppose there's still a possible appearance by Bill Clinton to look forward to, though.
For me, Tyson's cameo worked because he was simply playing himself - and that was essentially the entire joke. Dropping other celebrities into The Hangover Part II just for the sake of having them there didn't seem like it would be as effective. I'm not saying Neeson wouldn't have been great in the film, but I think the audience is far less likely to be taken out of the story when Cassavetes appears on screen.
In my opinion, the film has more substantial hurdles to overcome - namely that first full-length trailer which strongly suggested that The Hangover Part II will essentially mimic the original film beat for beat. I realize that it's probably impossible to showcase the majority of the film's raunchy humor, but I really was hoping for something more creative plot-wise. Still, it seems that most are ready to forgive the blatant cut & paste job as long as the film delivers plenty of laughs.
I loved the original film, so I'm going to force myself to remain optimistic that they're simply holding back on all of the surprises that The Hangover Part II has in store for us. We'll find out if that's the case when the film hits theaters on May 26th.