Baby Carlos from The Hangover has grown up quite a bit

By the time The Hangover hit cinemas in 2009, writer-director Todd Phillips’ brand of comedy was in danger of being phased out. Seth Rogen and his regular collaborators were changing the game with character-driven comedies like Knocked Up and Pineapple Express, while the frat humor that Phillips was known for through films like Road Trip and Old School was no longer on trend. Rather than adapting, Phillips decided to go full throttle. In the end, it was The Hangover‘s unapologetically raunchy approach to a bachelor party gone wrong that made it such a huge hit. The flick was quickly Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and went on to make $467 million at the worldwide box office, despite costing just $35 million to produce. 

When Alan (Zach Galifianakis), Phil (Bradley Cooper), and Stu (Ed Helms) wake up after a night of wild partying in Las Vegas, they quickly realize that they’ve lost a groom (Justin Bartha’s Doug) and gained an infant. While Galifianakis and his co-leads quickly became huge stars following the movie’s success, you may be wondering whatever happened to the Wolf Pack’s honorary member. The part of baby Carlos was played by a chubby-cheeked, blue-eyed kid named Grant Holmquist, but this child star has since grown up quite a bit. Let’s take a look.

Holmquist's mom wasn't happy with some of The Hangover's content

When Carrie Holmquist’s son, Grant, was cast as baby Carlos in The Hangover, she and her husband didn’t know what to expect. “All we knew was that Heather Graham played the mom, and all the guys were up-and-comers at the time,” she told Too Fab in 2019. The first scene Grant filmed was the one in which Galifianakis, Helms, and Cooper sit by the hotel pool trying to figure out just what went down the previous evening. While it spawned one of the movie’s most-quoted lines (“Not at the table, Carlos,”) it’s also one of the film’s most controversial scenes because of one particularly risqué joke.

According to Carrie, she was completely unaware that her son would be simulating masturbation for laughs. “I was so concerned with the safety and temperament of my baby, that I didn’t realize what the actors were doing and trusted their choices,” she told the media outlet. “It was only after the footage was in the can that the child welfare worker asked me if I was okay with the content. I looked at my husband, and we agreed it would’ve been nice to be asked about it prior to the scene being shot, but what was done, was done.”

Did The Hangover's director go behind the mother's back?

How could Todd Phillips allow an innocent little baby to become the butt of a masturbation joke without the express permission of the child’s parents? Well, according to the director, that’s not exactly what happened. When the director spoke to The Hollywood Reporter for its Uncensored Oral History of The Hangover feature in 2013, he confirmed that Grant Holmquist’s mother knew nothing about the poolside scene … but claimed Grant’s father had already given him and the actors the okay to go ahead with it.

“I waited for the mom to go upstairs because the mom was a little bit more not into stuff like that,” Phillips recalled. “I go to the dad: ‘It would be funny if Zach [Galifianakis] pretends to do this. Would you have a problem with that?’ And he literally goes: ‘[My wife is] going to be gone for a half-hour. Can you do it in the next half-hour?'” Grant’s dad apparently saw the funny side, but one person who wasn’t 100 percent okay with the gag was Ed Helms. “I was always the nervous Nelly about those jokes,” the actor admitted. “Zach was going to get arrested for the baby thing.”

Some of the baby Carlos jokes caused 'debate' on set

The first cut of The Hangover went down well with test audiences, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, there were “concerns about taste boundaries in certain scenes.” Dirty jokes are one thing, but how did Grant Holmquist’s parents feel about all the physical comedy involving baby Carlos? “There was a stunt baby for that,” mom Carrie Holmquist confirmed when she spoke with Too Fab via email. She was referring to the moment Stu accidentally slams a car door in the baby’s face — a gag that was a step too far for some.

Things were polarizing, like when you hit the baby in the face — even though it’s a doll,” Director Todd Phillips told THR. “We hit the baby with the car door, and that bothers a lot of people. Then you have to decide: ‘Are we going to leave that in?’ Because it also makes The Hangover audacious.” Of course, the scene remained in the movie, as did the moment baby Carlos is left in the car in “100 degrees” heat. This also proved highly contentious. That was a big debate on set,” said actor Ed Helms.

Grant's twin sister played baby Carlos in some scenes

Even if he never acts again, Grant Holmquist will always be able to say that he was baby Carlos in the Hangover films. He technically wouldn’t be lying, but the truth is he didn’t actually play the lost child in every single scene of the first movie. The filmmakers hired a total of eight babies to work on The Hangover, according to Too Fab. Despite the character being male, Grant was the only boy among them. 

However, he was clearly the favorite, considering he appeared as Carlos in the majority of the baby’s scenes. When it wasn’t him, it was usually his twin sister, Avery. “We started shooting in Vegas and it was the pool scene, which was fun,” mom Carrie Holmquist told People in 2013. “They had shot for two days prior to us getting there, so there are a couple clips in that movie where it’s not Grant or Avery.” Those few early clips aside, she estimated it’s about “60 percent Grant, 40 percent Avery.”

Baby Carlos' mom tried to get more money for the tyke

The Hangover was a mammoth success at the box office and quickly became the highest-grossing R-rated comedy ever at the time, breaking a record that had been held by Eddie Murphy’s Beverly Hills Cop for about 25 years. Warner Bros. was apparently a little apprehensive about shelling out $35 million on an R-rated comedy starring a bunch of relative unknowns, but director Todd Phillips was so confident it would make money that he reportedly waved his $6.5 million salary in exchange for a cut of the profits. According to Celebrity Net Worth, “When combined with DVD sales, Phillips earned $75 million off the first Hangover.”

There was way more money to go around than anyone had expected, but Grant Holmquist didn’t see any dividends. According to his mother, he and his twin sister weren’t really considered cast members. “In the original movie, the babies were cast as specialty extras and only received day pay,” Carrie Holmquist told Too Fab. “I tried to get their status upgraded, especially since crying should be considered a speaking role, but it didn’t work out. Both Avery and Grant worked about 15 days, so that was a nice little seed at 6 months old.”

Grant Holmquist still earns residuals from The Hangover Part III

The Hangover series went overseas with its first sequel, taking the action to the Thai capital of Bangkok — or the “city of squalor,” as Ken Jeong’s Mr. Chow puts it. 2011’s The Hangover Part II surpassed the first film at the global box office, pulling in just shy of $587 million. However, interest in the franchise had waned by the time the Wolf Pack got back together for 2013’s The Hangover Part III, which was hammered by critics and barely managed to break even domestically. It was the lowest-earning installment yet, but Carrie Holmquist was on hand to make sure her son got a fair cut this time.

The story moved back to the United States for the third film, setting up a hilarious reunion between Alan and Carlos. During her 2019 chat with Too Fab, Grant’s mother revealed that her son “still has money trickling in from H3 every quarter,” despite only having worked on the film for two days. She added, “[It’s] nice for the college fund. There is an involved equation that determines the residual rates.”

Grant Holmquist 'loves' Zach Galifianakis

Zach Galifianakis may have been in on the joke that offended Grant Holmquist’s mother in the first Hangover movie, but she was generally very happy with how the actor handled her kid on the set of The Hangover Part III. All three of the film’s stars spent time playing with Grant between takes, but it was his bearded screen partner to whom he really took a shine. “Zach did an amazing job loosening Grant up,” Carrie Holmquist told People. “He’s the type of kid who’s very analytical and intelligent. He kind of walks into a room and takes it all in first, so it was really nice to have those personalities warm up to him.” 

Grant is still really fond of Galifianakis to this day, often pointing the actor out to his mother. “When he sees him in the trailer or in the paper, he’ll go, ‘Oh, there’s Zachy!’ He’s taken to calling him Zachy,” Carrie said. “Grant loves him.” Galifianakis was apparently brilliant with Grant on the set of the first Hangover movie, too. There are some “priceless shots of Grant snoozing in the carrier on Zach’s chest during a break,” the proud mother told Too Fab.

Grant Holmquist remembers working on The Hangover Part III

He obviously doesn’t remember anything from his time working on the first Hangover movie, but Grant Holmquist apparently has some fond memories of The Hangover Part III. The young actor was only 4 years old at the time, but according to his mother, he “remembers a lot about being on set.” Carrie Holmquist told Too Fab, “One of his favorite stories to tell is when director Todd Phillips let him choose a toy from the play room set and Grant asked if he could bring one home for his sister Avery, too.”

Of course, just like he did in the first movie, Grant spent the majority of his time with “Zachy” Galifianakis, who clearly made a huge impact on him. “He also remembers a game Zach made up called ‘Guess Grant’s Middle Name,'” Carrie said. “We gave him a ton of hints and eventually we had to tell him! There is a famous Peanuts character of the same name!” Hmm… our money is on Grant “Snoopy” Holmquist, but Grant “Woodstock” Holmquist sounds pretty cool, too.

Baby Carlos had to reaudition for his Hangover role

Grant Holmquist almost didn’t get the chance to rekindle his cute relationship with Zach Galifianakis. When Director Todd Phillips and co-writer Craig Mazin wrote Heather Graham’s Jade and her son Tyler (aka Carlos) into The Hangover Part III, they initially decided to cast an older child. Grant was the obvious choice seeing as he played the character for the majority of the first movie, but the fact that he was only 4-and-a-half at the time worried the filmmakers. In the end, the original Carlos was made to audition for the part against a bunch of 6-year-olds.

“We called up the mom and said, ‘Hey we’re doing another one and we would love to see how Grant is doing,” Phillips told Global Grind in 2013. Despite being a few years younger than the competition, Grant nailed the audition, securing his part. “They came to my office and he was great and we had so much fun seeing him again,” the director added. However, they did have an insurance policy in place: Carrie Holmquist told People that an older kid actor understudy was brought in just in case Grant “had a meltdown on set.”

Grant Holmquist hasn't seen any of the Hangover movies

If you’ve seen any of the Hangover movies, you’ll understand why Carrie Holmquist hasn’t allowed her kids to watch them in full just yet. During her Too Fab interview, Grant’s mom revealed that she’s allowed the twins to watch some select clips of themselves in The Hangover, as well as Grant’s The Hangover Part III scene, but that’s it. Considering Common Sense Media‘s review of the first film, that’s been a smart move on her part: “Let’s face it: The movie’s whole premise involves drinking and being drugged.”

According to Carrie, it’s going to be a number of years before she gives Grant and Avery permission to sit down and watch the movies from start to finish. “Probably once they hit high school and can appreciate some of the situation jokes more,” she said. She has, however, tried to involve the kids in more family-friendly ways. The Holmquist clan has returned to Las Vegas to vacation and hit up all the Hangover hot spots. “We saw the Hangover slots and Wolf Pack gear at Caesars Palace,” Carrie said. “And I took the kids through the Valet driveway, too.”

Baby Carlos wasn't in the original script

Alan and baby Carlos became a popular Halloween costume following the release of The Hangover. While a disheveled man with an infant strapped to his front was one of the defining images of Todd Phillips’ bawdy comedy, the character of baby Carlos wasn’t even in the original story. The film that became The Hangover was originally conceived by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who had put together a screenplay called What Happens in Vegas. New Line Cinema passed on the property when it was unable to secure the rights to the original title, and the script fell into the hands of Phillips.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, the writer-director revealed that he and Jeremy Garelick added Carlos and a whole bunch of other stuff to the plot. There was “no Tyson, baby or tiger,” Phillips said. “Jeremy Garelick and I sat down in my house and just started writing. We kind of went backward, like, what would be the craziest thing you could wake up to? A tiger? Well, why would a tiger be there? Siegfried & Roy? Nah, that feels typical. Oh, you know what’s funny? Mike Tyson. I once read he has tigers. They stole it from Mike Tyson.”

Baby Carlos has grown up quite a bit

Grant Holmquist hasn’t done any acting since 2013’s The Hangover Part III, but fans of baby Carlos can always check in on him via Carrie Holmquist Photography, his mother’s business. “When my children were born in 2008, my passion for photography was renewed,” his mom told Voyage LA in 2018. “I took a photojournalistic approach to documenting their first experiences and interactions with the world around them.” She has continued to use this approach — both Grant and Avery appeared on the Carrie Holmquist Photography Instagram feed as recently as May 2019 in a pair of cute posts. 

Carrie told Too Fab that Grant has grown to be just like most other boys his age. He enjoys playing baseball and video games, and while he might not have appeared in any more movies, he’s become quite the cinephile. He’s had an “infatuation with Yoda” since he was a little kid, she told People. “He was interested in finding out how he uses his lightsaber, but what Grant really likes about him is that he’s wise.” Very much into sci-fi, Grant also loves the Back to the Future and Ghostbusters films.

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