Lee Daniels is a Cannes veteran who has steadily worked his way up through the festival’s hierarchy. “The Woodsman,” which he produced, played Directors’ Fortnight in 2004. “Precious,” which he directed, was featured in Un Certain Regard in 2009. And this year, Daniels graduates to the competition with his newest film, “The Paperboy,” which receives its gala premiere on Thursday.
An adaptation of the 1995 novel by Pete Dexter, the film is set in 1960s South Florida, where a young man (Zac Efron) witnesses a series of events while his journalist older brother (Matthew McConaughey) is recruited by a death-row groupie (Nicole Kidman) to prove that a man convicted of murder (John Cusack) is innocent. Daniels spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about finally returning to work after the whirlwind that surrounded the release of “Precious,” how he assembled a cast and what it means to him to be summoned to walk the red carpet.
After “Precious,” you spent several years pursuing a movie called “Selma,” about the famous Civil Rights march. How did “The Paperboy” become your next movie instead?
Lee Daniels: I did. We got right to the altar, and the bride ran away. We had the money, but I needed more money. Looking at it in hindsight now, I should have figured out a way [to make Selma]. I think oftentimes filmmakers make that mistake. I know I did. You don’t realize the gift that you have making films. It’s so rare that you have the opportunity to do it. But it brought “Paperboy” into my lap. I had had the book, Pete’s book. I’d gotten it around the same time I’d gotten “Precious,” actually Push, by Sapphire. I enjoyed both of them very much. They are the types of books that are on my bed stand. When I got some money from investors, I had the choice and I decided to do “Precious.” After “Precious,” there were several movies that were floating around — “Nights of Cabiria,” “Miss Saigon.” Being courted by so many people because of the hype of “Precious,” you lose a sense of focus. But after the fairy dust settled and reality kicked back in, I became an unemployed director. I went back to what I knew, which was my passion for “Paperboy.”
You’ve got a very high-profile cast. How did it come about?
Lee Daniels: Casting was a circus. It was crazy. We kept losing actors because we kept pushing the start date. We started out with one cast and ended up with another. We started out with Tobey Maguire and Sofia Vergara and Bradley Cooper and we ended up with Zac Efron and Matthew McConaughey and Nicole Kidman. Crazy. I think the universe plays it exactly as it’s supposed to. I couldn’t be prouder of each of the actors in the film. They serviced Pete’s characters magnificently.
Zac Efron is the relative newcomer in the cast. How did he hold his own?
Lee Daniels: Zac Efron, he is hungry. That is the best way to describe Zac. He is hungry and eager. He really gave it to me, man. He brought it home for me.
Zac Efron was spotted watching a hockey game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on May 20th, 2012. Enjoy the pics!
• [5/20] Watching Hockey Game In Los Angeles (x4)
Zac Efron was spotted outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles on May 20th, 2012. Enjoy the pics!
• [5/20] Outside Staples Center In Los Angeles (x10)
Zac Efron has been nominated for 2012 Teen Choice Awards in the following categories:
• “The Help”
• “The Lucky One”
• “The Vow”
• “We Bought a Zoo”
Movie Actor: Drama
• Matt Damon, “We Bought a Zoo”
• Zac Efron, “The Lucky One”
• Ryan Gosling, “Drive”
• Channing Tatum, “The Vow”
• Justin Timberlake, “In Time”
Click here to vote for Zac Efron! Winners will be announced during a live broadcast set to air on Sunday, July 22 on FOX.
Zac Efron has been featured in the May issue of Interfilms magazine. Enjoy these scans below!
• Interfilms (May 2012) (x7)
Exclusive Media has acquired all international rights to director Ramin Bahrani’s Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid drama “At Any Price” and will launch the project to foreign buyers when the Marche du Film gets underway later this week. “At Any Price” also stars Kim Dickens (Footloose) and Heather Graham. CAA represents domestic rights.
The film, currently in post-production, was written by Hallie Elizabeth Newton, who often collaborates with Bahrani. “At Any Price” revolves around rebellious Dean Whipple (Efron), who is intent on becoming a professional race car driver at the expense of his obligations to his family’s farming empire. His father (Quaid) is intent on his son taking over the business, and when a high-stakes investigation into their business is exposed, the father and son are pushed into an unexpected situation that threatens their entire livelihood.
“The cast in the film is incredibly talented and the universal themes in the story are sure to resonate with our buyers,” Exclusive president of international sales and distribution Alex Walton said. “Ramin Bahrani is an exceptional filmmaker delivering compelling and socially relevant films and we are delighted to be able to present his next project to buyers in Cannes.”
Bahrani made his feature film debut at the Venice Film Festival with Man Push Cart, which won the prestigious FIPRESCI International Critics Award at the London Film Festival and received numerous Independent Spirit Award nominations. His other previous credits include Goodbye Solo and Chop Shop.
“At Any Price” is produced by Black Bear Pictures, TreeHouse Pictures, Killer Films and Noruz Films.
The deal with Exclusive was negotiated by Walton and Teddy Schwarzman of Black Bear.
At Cannes, Walton also will be shopping third-party titles “Therese,” “Hit and Run,” “Disconnect,” Sundance favorite “Robot & Frank” and “Look of Love.” [Source]
• Stills (x1)
New outtakes of Zac Efron taken during his photoshoot for People’s magazine earlier this year have been added to the gallery. Enjoy these amazing pics!
Several new outtakes of Zac Efron from his photoshoot taken for Men’s Health have been added to the gallery. Enjoy the pics!
Zac Efron was spotted watching a basketball game in Los Angeles on May 12th, 2012. Enjoy the pics!
• [5/12] Watching Basketball Game In Los Angeles (x10)