Todd Phillips, Zach Galifianakis Explain Mel Gibson’s Axed ‘Hangover 2’ Cameo; Robert Downey Jr. Defends Star

“Due Date,” the latest comedy from director Todd Phillips, is heading to theatres in just over a week, but at the junket for the Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis-starring film on Wednesday, the helmer set the record straight on what really happened with Mel Gibson’s axed “Hangover 2” cameo.

Phillips told Access Hollywood’s Tony Potts that despite reports that the troubled actor was fired from the film at the urging of Galifianakis, cutting Gibson came down to two things – the joke got out and he had to protect the crew.

“As much as I’m the producer and the director and a writer on the movie, I don’t operate like that in that, it’s a family. A lot of the crew that I’ve worked with, I’ve worked with for 10 years now on seven movies. A lot of the actors, obviously, I’ve worked with before,” Phillips explained. “So you don’t want necessarily, a two-minute moment in your film to come in between that family, if that makes sense.”

Phillips explained that Gibson’s cameo, which would have seen the actor play a tattoo artist in Thailand, would have been small, but it was better to let it go then ruffle the feathers of those involved with the production.

“It wasn’t that I was forfeitting the entire movie, this was a two minute moment that was supposed to be a surprise, that wasn’t a surprise now anyway. Why rupture what we have and this sort of thing if people disagree and it just [came] down to that?” Phillips said. “I had to sort of think of the movie in the big picture of our experience in making the film as opposed to, ‘This is a two minute moment.’”

While reports suggested Galifianakis led the charge to get Gibson cut from the film, Phillips told Potts it wasn’t fair that the bearded star has been made out to be the poster boy for the anti-Gibson campaign on the “Hangover 2” set.

“No, no, no, that’s not fair at all. Zach’s one of my best friends and it’s pretty much by the nature of this junket happening, why I think he’s sort of been the guy, because it wasn’t one singular voice at all,” Phillips said. “And if it was, I would’ve dealt with that singular voice. It was more of a feeling and that’s why we made the change.”

Phillips told Potts that he was the one who broke the news to Gibson.

“I called Mel. I have a good relationship with him, you know, I think he’s truly one of our finest directors and a really fine actor,” Phillips said. “He’d been a gentleman… the whole time and… I called him up and we had a covnersation.”

As for Galifianakis, when asked about the killed Gibson cameo, he told Potts he didn’t want to talk about.

“I wish not to,” he said, later adding, “I’m not a consultant on Todd’s films. I add some dialogue here and there, but as far as big decisions, I’m just a hired hand.”

Meanwhile, his “Due Date” co-star — and longtime friend of Gibson — Downey Jr. didn’t opine on the situation, but said he is a fan of the embattled actor.

“I’ve know the guy for 25 years and he hired me when no one else would,” he said of Gibson. “So I think that’s enough said on my position. I love the guy.”

“Due Date” hits theaters on November 5 and “The Hangover 2” will be released on May 26, 2011.

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