Mel Gibson

Brian Zak/Sipa Press

Like a bumbling bachelor-partygoer who's wondering how he lost his front tooth, Todd Phillips is trying to piece together what really happened.

The director assured reporters Wednesday that Mel Gibson was not hired and then fired from making a cameo in The Hangover 2.

Rather, Phillips said at a press event for Due Date, the reputation-impaired star "was just doing a favor from the beginning."

"No one was ever fired," Phillips insisted. "It's a term that is so obscene to me."

Surely Gibson can teach Phillips some far more obscene terms, but the filmmaker wouldn't give an inch when asked who (i.e., Was it Zach Galifianakis?) on the Hangover team objected to Gibson scoring a snippet of screen time as a Bangkok tattoo artist.

"Someone was doing me a favor to come in for a two-minute cameo, and we changed it," Phillips said simply. "It wasn't like we fired somebody. [Gibson] was just doing a favor from the beginning."

Liam Neeson has since been tapped to do the honors.

E! Online's Marc Malkin was first to confirm that the main castmembers from the first film, minus Heather Graham, will be back for the sequel, which will be shooting in L.A. and Thailand.

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