The 2001 cult comedy classic Wet Hot American Summer featured so many up-and-comers on the verge of their big breakouts — including Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, and Elizabeth Banks — that when Netflix announced the whole gang would reunite for an eight-episode Wet Hot series set to air this summer, many industry observers wondered when those in-demand actors would find the time to film their parts. Cooper, for one, is now a full-blown movie star who not only toplined 2014’s biggest hit, American Sniper, but was busy acting in Broadway’s recent revival of The Elephant Man while Wet Hot shot its new season. Could he really make it work?
The answer is yes, although just barely. Vulture has learned that Cooper shot a single day on the Wet Hot series, since his Broadway commitments initially prohibited a trip to Los Angeles, where it was filmed. In fact, the Wet Hot team initially scheduled a one-day New York shoot to accommodate Cooper — with all of his significant scene partners, including Poehler, on standby — but when Cooper found himself nominated for two Academy Awards for producing and starring in American Sniper, the plan was revamped to take advantage of his trip to L.A. for the Oscars. Ultimately, Cooper shot every single one of his scenes on February 26, the last day of Wet Hot’s production.
Does that mean, then, that we won’t be seeing very much of Cooper’s fussy camp counselor Ben when Wet Hot’s eight-episode season debuts? Surprisingly, it doesn’t. Wet Hot director David Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter plotted out the entire series in advance — pulling liberally from the script they’d previously drawn up for a big-screen sequel — so that when stars like Poehler and Paul Rudd managed to find three or four days to come shoot, they could film all of their scenes in the series at once. That way, Wet Hot could duck some of the criticisms leveled at Arrested Development’s Netflix revival, where that show’s busy actors were mostly confined to stand-alone episodes instead of interacting with each other.
Cooper, then, will actually appear in multiple episodes of Wet Hot, sometimes even sharing scenes with actors whose reaction shots to him were filmed weeks in advance. Never fear, though: Cooper will still get plenty of for-real screen time with Poehler’s tyrannical “director-slash-choreographer” Beth, and fans of the original film’s memorable gay sex scene — where Cooper and Michael Ian Black had a toolshed romp wearing nothing but tall socks — will be gifted with even more romantic moments between the two men when Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp premieres July 17.