How Ken Jeong’s ‘Money Shot’ Led To $5 Million Paycheck In ‘Hangover 3’

Image via YouTube/WarnerBrosPictures

As Hangover fans scramble to theaters to see the third installment of the trilogy this holiday weekend, at least one of its stars is thanking his lucky stars for the $1 billion franchise. Ken Jeong, aka Mr. Chow, has seen his life change since his naked appearance in the first Hangover film. After leaving his career as a general practitioner to pursue comedy in his late 30s, he spent years struggling to make his mark as a stand-up comic before landing his first movie role as the obstetrician in 2007’s Knocked Up. That break led Jeong to his audition with Hangover director Todd Phillips, who had seen Jeong’s routine in YouTube videos.

I really improvised a lot in that audition,” Jeong told the Hollywood Reporter. “I was in character, screaming and yelling. I remember Todd saying: ‘This guy is insane. I must hire him.’ “

Now, as a key player in Hangover 3, Jeong reportedly pulled in a $5 million paycheck to reprise his famous role. According to trailers, the Wolfpack goes on a road trip in the final installment, where Phil, Stu, Doug and Alan encounter a crime boss—played by John Goodman—who is looking for Mr. Chow. We’ll have to watch the movie to find out if the son of South Korean immigrants keeps his clothes on this time. But for that kind of cash, who wouldn’t mind showing their schlong to the world again? After all, the money shot has paid Jeong with more than his Hangover check. He’s developing four film projects currently—including the comedy After Prom and the indie satire The Clapper—on top of his four seasons on NBC’s Community. And believe it or not, the nakedness was all Jeong’s idea.

“It was my idea to jump naked out of that trunk,” Jeong told Moviefone. “That was my contribution; the script called for me to have clothes on, but I thought that scene was screaming for Mr. Chow to be naked. I’m not an exhibitionist at heart — I’m the kind of guy who’s so shy about his body that I’m afraid to take my shirt off at the beach. You can ask my wife, I’m pretty demure. Anyway, I think [that scene] kind of bonded me and Todd Phillips early on, and he was amazed that a guy like me, who was only working on the movie for a few days, was willing to put himself on the line. In my head, it was a character choice, not a personal choice.”