Zac Efron felt uncomfortable filming his revealing role “The Paperboy” and he says that’s the way he wanted it. The “High School Musical” actor has moved into decidedly grown-up territory with the film by “Precious” director Lee Daniels, which screened Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival.
It’s a swampy slice of southern gothic set in the 1960s, with Efron as an aspiring writer helping his journalist brother (Matthew McConaughey) investigate a possible miscarriage of justice. Efron’s Jack falls for Nicole Kidman’s sparky but sultry femme fatale, who is in turn obsessed with a death row inmate (a supremely creepy John Cusack). The cast also includes singer Macy Gray as Jack’s family maid and surrogate mother, and British actor David Oyelowo as an ambitious big-city journalist.
Efron spends much of the film in his underpants, but says he didn’t mind the scrutiny.
“I don’t think I was supposed to feel comfortable,” the 24-year-old actor told reporters in Cannes. “It’s like life. This character is supposed to be learning the ways of the world, and that can be very uncomfortable. But it’s also exciting.”
Daniels had a shallower explanation for all the Efron flesh on display.
“He’s a good-looking guy,” the director said. “And I’m gay. What do you want?”
Efron is not the only actor asked to bare his soul in the movie, which combines a crime thriller plot with a swampy landscape and undercurrents ofacism and sexuality into a pungent gumbo. Cusack sheds a lifetime of good guy roles to play the sweaty, sinister inmate, and loved every minute of it.
“The Paperboy” is adapted from a novel by Pete Dexter, with an expanded role for Gray’s character, Anita, who becomes the film’s narrator. Yardley, the reporter played by Oyelowo, is white in the book but black in the film.
“What I could give in this world was my truth, my understanding,” said Daniels. “Every single character in this movie is someone I know personally, someone I have interacted with personally. I saw a movie called ‘The Help,’ and though I liked it, most of my family was ‘help.’ They came back and told me stories about working with white people. There was a truth in Anita that I wanted to bring out, and that’s why I expanded that role. And also because there aren’t enough roles for African Americans in the world today.”
Daniels’ last film, “Precious,” was a surprise hit that won two Academy Awards in 2010. His next will be “The Butler,” the story of a long-serving White House staffer in which McConaughey plays John F. Kennedy and Cusack is Richard Nixon
“The Paperboy” has drawn mixed response in Cannes, where it is one of 22 films up for the Palme d’Or, to be awarded Sunday.
But the actors seem to have adored the experience. Efron said working with Kidman had been a dream.
“I’ve been in love with her for a long time—since ‘Moulin Rouge,'” Efron said. “It was the loveliest time in the world for me.” [Source]
After “The Paperboy” grossed out audiences at the Cannes Film Festival with a urination scene involving Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman, the latter has revealed that no stunt pee was used. That’s right – an upcoming movie actually features former Disney idol and Hollywood hunk Zac Efron getting urinated on by Nicole Kidman.
The film itself is based on an illicet love affair between the titular paperboy and trailer trash character Charlotte, played by Nicole. A scene in the film features Efron’s character being stung by a jellyfish and as friends fans will tell you, you’re probably going to get peed on if you want to relieve that situation.
“Yes, I did the scene. That was what Lee wanted. It was in the script. And it’s pretty out there,” Nicole told Deadline Hollywood. “I mean, I love Zac. He’s such a great guy and let me just say I am glad it was him. I feel safe with Zac and hopefully he feels safe with me. Oh my God I can’t believe it’s all over Twitter. Of course it would be all over Twitter!”
Despite getting urinated on by the blonde bombshell, Efron was effusive in his praise for the co-star, telling Radar Online: “It was everything you dreamed of.”
“She was such a lovely person. I pinched myself every day, especially after doing love scenes with Nicole Kidman. It was the highlight of my life.”
But… didn’t she pee on you Zac? Even though director Lee Daniels later wanted to omit the scene, his lead actress fought for it to included.
“She said, ‘Lee, you made me pee on Zac Efron, if you don’t put that in the movie, you’re out of your freakin’ mind’,” Lee told GQ Magazine. [Source]
Hey guys! I am really sorry for no updates for the past two or three weeks. I was busy working on some project and my personal life, so I could not update this website. But that’s going to change, so expect tons of updates coming soon!
Nicholas Stoller, who most recently directed “The Five-Year Engagement” for Universal, is in negotiations to helm the studio’s planned Seth Rogen-Zac Efron comedy “Townies.” Universal picked up the project in a bidding war in July, plunking down seven figures on the pitch from writers Andrew Cohen and Brendan O’Brien.
The story sees Rogen as a regular family man who lives near an alpha-male fraternity house and has to contend with a frat member (Efron) whose raucous behavior wreaks havoc on his life.
Rogen and his Point Grey Pictures partner Evan Goldberg are producing. James Weaver, Cohen and O’Brien are exec producing.
Stoller, considered part of the Judd Apatow crew, seems to have made Universal his home in recent years. He also directed “Get Him to the Greek” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” for the studio. He first worked with Rogen when the latter co-starred on the short-lived Fox series Undeclared and Stoller wrote a trio of episodes. [Source]
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.