The Hangover, a franchise that once surpassed expectations as smarter-than-your-average-grossout-comedy fare, has now become a punchline as its third installment makes its way to theaters. But The Hollywood Reporter's new oral history of the series reveals what might have been—for better or for weird. 

Ed Helms was cast right off the bat. But consider, for instance, who passed on the film: Paul Rudd and Jack Black. Consider this even more shocking revelation: Alan, the annoying and occasionally lovable brother-in-law character, ultimately played with breakout distinction by Zach Galifinakis, was a role that almost went to someone very, very different. Ever imagined Jake Gyllenhal coining the phrase "wolf pack?" Director Todd Phillips, as part of interviews with THR's Matthew Belloni and Lacey Rose, explains: 

Quite honestly, we were writing the brother-in-law as a younger brother they had to take along with them -- like a Jonah Hill character instead of Zach [Jake Gyllenhaal also was considered]. Then we thought it'd be so much more awkward if it was an older brother who's still at home. [Thomas Haden Church was strongly considered.] 

There are quite obviously some weird jumps in casting and logic here: How do you get from Jonah Hill to Jake Gyllenhaal to Thomas Haden Church to Zach Galifiankis? Alas. 

Another potential actor who could have been in the film: Lindsay Lohan in the role of stripper-turned-bride, ultimately fulfilled by Heather Graham. Then again, if Phillips hadn't decided Lohan was too young, Graham might have been saved from having to do video in Hangover character for the bar mitzvah of her agent's son. 

So, yes, in an alternate universe The Hangover would have been much different. Would the first one have been better? Probably not. Would we have been saved from sequels? Probably. The world's funny that way.

Read the rest of the oral history for more on the series and details about Ken Jeong's genitals.