Zac Efron and Brittany Snow Interview – HAIRSPRAY

     July 15, 2007

Opening up this Friday is the new version of “Hairspray,” and to help promote the movie New Line held a press day a few weeks ago where almost everyone involved participated in roundtable interviews. About a week ago I posted a bunch of them and tonight I’ll be posting the rest.

So up now is the interview with Zac Efron and Brittany Snow.

During the interview we covered all the usual questions – how they got involved, what was filming like, and what was working with John Travolta really like with him in that costume. And while all the usual subjects were covered, we did get to talk about some other cool stuff like Brittany’s upcoming movie with Tony Kaye and Zac talked “High School Musical 2.” Unfortunately the interview was done before Zac got cast in the remake of “Footloose.” If you’re a fan of these two performers I promise you’ll dig the interview.

And if you’re not familiar with the story of “Hairspray,” here’s the synopsis:

Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, has only one passion – dancing. Her dream is to appear on “The Corny Collins Show,” Baltimore’s hippest dance party on TV. Tracy (Nikki Blonsky) seems a natural fit for the show except for one not-so-little problem – she doesn’t fit in. Her plus-sized figure has always set her apart from the cool crowd, which she is reminded of by her loving but overly protective plus-sized mother, Edna (John Travolta). That doesn’t stop Tracy because if there is one thing that this girl knows, it’s that she was born to dance. As her father Wilbur (Christopher Walken) tells her, “Go for it! You’ve got to think big to be big.”

After wowing Corny Collins (James Marsden) at her high school dance, Tracy wins a spot on his show and becomes an instant on-air sensation, much to the chagrin of the show’s reigning princess, Amber Von Tussle (Brittany Snow), and her scheming mother, Velma (Michelle Pfeiffer), who runs television station WYZT. Even worse for Amber is the fact that it’s not just the audience who loves the new girl in town; Amber’s sweetheart, Link Larkin (Zac Efron), seems to be smitten with Tracy’s charms as well. This dance party gets personal as a bitter feud erupts between the girls as they compete for the coveted “Miss Teenage Hairspray” crown.

At school, however, a short stint in detention and raised-eyebrows caused by the budding relationship between her best friend Penny Pingleton (Amanda Bynes) and Seaweed (Elijah Kelley) opens Tracy’s eyes to a bigger issue than the latest dance craze or the coolest hairdo – racial inequality. Throwing caution to the wind, she leads a march with Motormouth Maybelle (Queen Latifah) to fight for integration and winds up with an arrest warrant instead. Tracy is on the lam now and goes underground – literally – to her best friend Penny’s basement.

Has Tracy’s luck finally run out? Will she miss the final dance-off against Amber and forfeit the title of “Miss Hairspray,” or will she sing and dance her way out of trouble again?

When big hair meets big dreams anything can happen – and does – in this high-energy comedy that proves you don’t have to fit in to win.

As always, you can download the audio of the roundtable interview by clicking here. It’s an MP3 and easily placed on a portable player.

Finally, I recently posted some movie clips from “Hairspray” and also some behind the scenes videos. You can click on either link to watch them.

“Hairspray” opens on July 20th.

Question: Brittany, I just want to ask you because you did ‘American Dreams.’ Are you sick of the costumes and the hair?

Brittany Snow: Yeah a little bit. But, no I love the ‘60’s. I think it is a great time period and I have my hair like that now. I’m such a huge fan of the ‘60’s so any time I get a chance to do it I think I am ready and willing for sure.

Q: Even the clothes?

Brittany Snow: The clothes especially, but this is different than ‘American Dreams.’ It’s kind of the ‘60’s, but amplified. It’s larger than life. So, it wasn’t the same as ‘American Dreams’ which was more down played, it’s very realistic. This is kind of a character in itself. So, the clothes were definitely a lot brighter and bigger. So, yeah, it’s just completely different.

Q: Zac, what about musicals. Were you ready to get back into the musical genre?

Zac Efron: Dude, I love the musical trend right now. It’s a dream project. I feel like it’s a whole different skill set you get to prepare for a film. Like doing theater and that’s where I fell in love with entertaining, in musical theater. So, I’m always up for a good musical. Yeah.

Q: Had you both seen this on the stage?

Zac Efron: Yeah.

Brittany Snow: Yeah, both of us. Actually, it was weird, because when I was on the soap opera ‘Guiding Light,’ my best friend kind of my big sister was Lorabelle Bundy and she originated Amber on Broadway for the first five or six years and she was the original Amber in the musical. So, when I got the audition for this part I was like, ‘How weird would that be?’ And we are still really close. And so when I got the part I freaked out because I was actually playing her in a way. So, she was really excited ‘cause me being her little sister is like passing the torch and she trust me with the part. It was weird. So, the first couple of time I saw it was with her. And I went backstage and I was like, ‘I’d love to be a part of this.’ Six years later, crazy.

Zac Efron: It was weird, because when I first saw the play I saw it after I had been passed on for the role of Link. I kind of saw it in cold blood. I was watching it just to justify ‘Oh, I couldn’t do that’ or ‘No, it’s not that cool.’ Then afterwards, of course, it became my favorite show ever after I got the part.

Brittany Snow: You’re like, ‘It’s brilliant!’

Q: This was for the part in the movie? Because you’re way too young for the part in the stage…

Zac Efron: Yeah, yeah, I was passed on it initially for the role in the movie.

Q: So, what happened? How did you get back involved?

Zac Efron: To tell you the truth, I don’t know exactly how it happened. But I went in and I was told that were I was at I was too young, too happy, to innocent and so, I

Brittany Snow: Too Disney.

Zac Efron: I won’t say that. A few weeks later they called and said, ‘Can you dirty it up? Can you grunge it up? Can you make it more edgy?’ And I said, ‘Bring it on.’ And yeah, I guess it work. I was glad Adam had an open mind.

Q: They probably saw ‘High School Musical’ and thought you were too young.

Zac Efron: Probably, probably.

Q: You are doing part two though right?

Zac Efron: Part deux.

Q: They go to college?

Zac Efron: No, it’s just summer vacation.

Q: Adam has an incredible amount of energy. I was just wondering if some of that was infectious to the actors, just picking that up.

Zac Efron: Constantly.

Q: What was he like as a director and what did you like working with him?

Brittany Snow: It was amazing, I mean Adam is a really close friend of both of us. And actually I worked with him on my first movie ‘The Pacifier’ and so, we had stayed really close friends and I had just loved working with him on that project. You would think it would be easier for me to get the role of Amber, because he was directing it, but it was actually way more difficult to try out than it was for a friend of mine. In the same way, just like he was on ‘Pacifier,’ he is so energetic and so full of life. And just enthusiastic about making films that it definitely comes across when you are working with the actors. And even more so on ‘Hairspray’ because this was his dream job. He is a choreographer first and then he became a director, so he wanted this movie so bad that when he got a chance to direct it that every day was a dream for him and I think that really came across in the film.

Q: Had you seen the original movie? Thoughts on it?

Zac Efron: Yeah, I was excited because the original movie for me, when I saw it, it’s a very different type of film. A lot of people talk about how much of a cult classic favorite it is and how about how much everyone loves it and I was really surprised. I was forewarned, but there are some really odd things in this film. (Laughs.) It was great. It was great, of course. I have an aunt who is a huge fan, it is her favorite movie, and she couldn’t wait to show it to me.

Q: What’s weird about it?

Zac Efron: What’s weird about the film? Just the sense of humor. It’s hilarious, don’t get me wrong, I love it, I wasn’t prepared. I was ready for this uplifting, Broadway show story, y’know, but it’s a John Waters movie. It brought me back to those types of films.

Q: What was it like working with John Travolta? What was the first time like you saw him in the dress and outfit?

Zac Efron: First time we all saw John. You were there for this, right?

Brittany Snow: Yeah! I was right next to you.

Zac Efron: It was during dance rehearsal or some kind of rehearsal. I remember the whole cast was in the main studio where we were practicing. And there was like a crowd behind me and I could hear the commotion. It was like, ‘Omigod!’ And I looked behind me and I fought my way to the center of this like moshpit and there was John in the middle, as Edna, dancing. And everyone was hysterical laughing, so happy and he was talking in character. He was using his accent. He was Edna Turnblad for like a few minutes

Brittany Snow: He was shaking his butt. And he loved it, he was like, ‘Look at what I can do what I can do with this new booty.’ (Laughs.) It was like rockin’ around. We were all like, ‘Oh, my goodness. What the heck is going on?’

Q: Can you talk about the challenges of getting ready to do the role? The rehearsal process?

Zac Efron: Yeah, absolutely. Like, I was saying earlier, it’s a very different skill set then preparing for a different type of movie where you would have a few weeks of rehearsal, maybe some rehearsal, that type of stuff. This, of course, involves a much more vigorous dance rehearsal and vocal rehearsal. And not so much scene work. Because there aren’t very many serious scenes in the movie, but yeah for months we would literally wake up and go to work at 9 am and dance all day. And of course during lunch and other breaks we’d be singing, perhaps work on a scene with John or something like that, but it was really like preparing for a Broadway show. And we had to work hard out there. It was fun though. It’s a blast the whole time. Especially with Adam.

Q: Are there a lot of promotional performances you’ll be doing for the movie?

Brittany Snow: Zack has done a lot of performing. I only sing one song in the whole movie though.

Zac Efron: It’s good though.

Brittany Snow: O.K., I dance a lot, yeah, but I don’t really get to perform that much. But he does. I just stand there and act.

Zac Efron: There are a few performances coming up. I’m not exactly sure what they were or what they are.

Brittany Snow: ShowWest. On Oprah.

Zac Efron: We did ShowWest. We performed a little bit on Oprah and that’s the only thing I’ve been involved with so far. I know that they have done stuff in Toronto. There are a few more.

Q: When you get into those dances and moves, do you think ‘Omigod, what were people thinking back then?’

Brittany Snow: Well, it’s funny, because when I was on ‘American Dreams,’ I watched a lot of old ‘American Bandstand; footage to get myself in that mindset. I remember watching all these tapes of ‘American Bandstand’ and they were – like the dances back then, there was the floop de floo and there was like the one where they hit each other. They would step forward and they would bang each other. And then they would step forward and they would bang each other. It was the hot thing. (Laughs.) And I remember being like, ‘What?’ But, I guess like maybe ten years from now, maybe the elbows up side to side, like that no dance will be ‘What are people doing?’ But it was cool, because Hairspray was a little bit of ‘American Bandstand’ and the ‘60’s dances, but it was more choreographed and actually stylized dancing. Flips and turns and kicks and jumps, so it was more a Broadway play even though it had those 60’s dance steps in it. But of course it’s a movie it can’t be: step forward and banging, y’know? Because the audience would not be interested. Also, it’s very difficult to be told by your choreographer to just ‘twist.’ Just do the twist? It seems so simple, but there is a mental block because of all the years of seeing my mom twisting around the kitchen thinking it’s really cool. It was really funny, what is this going to read like? But, with the costumes and the hair and, I dunno, the way everyone was feeling, somehow it was just complete and it worked. It really worked.

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Q: Zac, all your fans recognize you for your fluffy hair. What was the new hairstyle like? Slicked back and all? Is that a look you’d ever want to do in real life for fun?

Zac Efron: Did I like the look? It’s different.

Brittany Snow: I liked it. I was like, ‘You look so cute.’

Zac Efron: Oh, thank you very much. The first time I got my haircut, it was the first time I felt clippers on my head since I was in 7th grade. I was like, ‘Omigod. I can feel my scalp.’ And I had ears. I was like, ‘Damn, they got big.’ (Laughs.) So, it was a reality check when you do something different like that. It worked for the role and I love the fact I could change it up. I like changing looks for a role. I gained a little weight for ‘Hairspray.’ I was good about that too. Not like Christian Bale or anything, but I gained ten pounds.

Q: How hard is it to now get out of this musical sphere when you are going to auditions? Do you feel you have to prove something?

Zac Efron: I don’t know. A lot of people ask me if I’m worried about being pigeonholed in musicals. It started with ‘High School Musical.’ ‘Are you worried about being pigeonholed in teen things?’ I dunno. I don’t like to worry about being pigeonholed, because if I’m worried about that, how can I be giving 110 percent in everything I’m doing? I’m just lucky to be here. So, I’m just going to keep going wherever the road takes me.

Q: Your mom is obviously a big dance freak, so what did she say when she heard…

Zac Efron: She’s not a dance freak, that’s the thing. (Laughs.)

Q: What did she say when you said you were going to work with Travolta?

Zac Efron: I think I was with my mom when I found out. My parents are so removed from this business. My dad is an electrical engineer in San Louis Obispo and my mom is a secretary up there. They had no background in the business at all. This really as much as it’s is a novelty for me, this is a novelty for my parents to go through. They can’t believe its happening. But I’m sure she was just excited. I’d like to think she’s proud. (Laughs.) It wasn’t a negative.

Brittany Snow: Oh, darn it. Working with John Travolta! We thought he would be a good boy.

Q: Can you talk about what you have coming up next?

Brittany Snow: Right after filming ‘Hairspray’ I did a film called ‘Finding Amanda.’ It’s a black comedy, it’s an independent with Matthew Broderick. And I play a prostitute in Vegas. But it’s funny. So, it’s a little like ‘Election.’ It’s kind of in that way. And Matthew Broderick is my uncle. And then, right after that I did a movie for Sony/Screen Gems called ‘Prom Night’ which is a thriller-type. Sort of in the vein of ‘Fear.’ My teacher becomes obsessed with me and it’s the same title as the original, but it’s a completely different script. And that was way different than the one before. And then, now I have coming up I start next week on a movie in New Orleans called ‘Black Water Transit’ which is a Tony Kaye film which is completely different than anything I have ever done or will ever do. It’s very gritty — I play another prostitute, so maybe I’ll become pigeonholed in that way, I dunno. But, I’m a meth addict. Don’t use that clip as ‘I’m a meth addict’ by the way, the character is a meth addict. And it’s with Laurence Fishburne, James Franco and Kevin Bacon and Stephen Dorff and Alisya Tyler. I dunno. We start next week, so it’s a definite departure for me.

Q: What about Tony Kaye. Have you done rehearsals with him?

Brittany Snow: I have. I tried out for it probably six or seven times and now we’ve done rehearsals for two weeks.

Q: What has been your take on him as a director so far?

Brittany Snow: It’s funny, doing ‘Hairspray’ with New Line and doing a Tony Kaye film, it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m on both sides of the fence here on that whole thing’ which is a little awkward, but the first thing is maybe I am crazy too, because I think he is amazing. I think he is genuinely a very gifted, very brilliant man and he has been nothing but nice. He is definitely what people would call brilliant in different ways. So, it’s interesting for sure, but this is the type of thing I want to do to further my career in a dramatic and challenging way. So, he’s definitely the person to go to when I want challenging.

Q: Zac, what is your story?

Zac Efron: Well, after that, I am going to sound really lazy. Right now, I’m just exploring different options and trying to figure out what is the right thing to do. I feel like there are a lot of projects I could have jumped into, but not what I want to be doing. Not what I felt what was right at the moment. I am kind of sitting back and seeing if there is a cool, interesting character to play. And hopefully can involve the audience that I’ve built and take them on new adventures.

Q: Can you talk about this being Nikki’s first film and your thoughts working with her?

Zac Efron: It’s funny, I was compared to Nikki, slightly more experience with the limited work I’ve done. I was kind of prepared to be helping her and encouraging her and maybe possibly teaching her something but from the first day I was extremely disappointed, I found myself taking tips from Nikki. She was so brilliant in everything she does. She tries everything. She is so courageous. So talented, you can say she’s never done anything before, but it’s almost not right. She’s been ready for this moment her whole life. And thank god that everyone in ‘Hairspray’ was creative enough to look for her, because I’ll tell you what she deserves to be here more than any of us.

Brittany Snow: It’s one of those things where you have to believe things were meant to b, because she is the perfect Tracy for this part. I mean, there is nobody who has more excitement and just inner genuine love for this project like she does. She’s born to do it and you can see it in her eyes when she’s playing the part. That’s how she was on set every day. It was kind of her dream come true.

Zac Efron: Everyday.

Brittany Snow: And she gave 110%. Everyday. Everything could go wrong, the set would be falling apart, not literally, but kind of, something would go wrong and she ‘d be just completely happy working 17-18 hours and having all these lines and working on like songs. She was just excited. And I think that inspired everyone. I think everyone was in awe of this professional and very poised girl.

Q: Girls like Amber are always the prefect girls in school. Did either of you tangle with any girls like that? Did you base her on anyone you knew?

Brittany Snow: Oh definitely. I didn’t base her on anybody. I kind of tried to follow Michelle’s lead and work off of her. So, kind of the little girl who wants to be like her mom, but doesn’t quite get it right. She’s kind of faking it because she think’s that’s what her mom would like her to do. But yeah, I had a really, it’s really cliché to say I had hard time in middle school and high school, but I really did. Cause girls were really mean, because kids really don’t understand when you are going to auditions and working in the business they think you are being conceited or egotistical. So, there was one girl in particular who made my life miserable.

Q: Would you like to take this opportunity to call her out…

Brittany Snow: Oh, no, I have done so many magazines. This is how crazy she is though. I did an interview with Seventeen magazine or something and they were talking about girls being mean and I think it’s important that girls know that you get over it and girls are mean and I went over it. Well, I did this whole thing and one of my friends said that she put it up on her wall and framed it. It was like, ‘I was the girl who made Brittany Snow’s life miserable.’ That in itself is why you are crazy.

Q: Zac anyone weird in your school who totally was the Queen Bee?

Zac Efron: If they were I didn’t hang out with them. I’m sure they where there. There were always those three girls that are way too tall and too pretty and kind of rule the high school.

Brittany Snow: That’s basically because they loved you.

Zac Efron: I doubt it. I probably didn’t’ say two words to them the whole time I attended the school. Yeah.

Q: Good luck with Tony’s movie.

Brittany Snow: Oh thank you, I know right? I need all the luck I can get.

Q: What is the movie about?

Brittany Snow: It’s about anti-gun and gun control in New Orleans. It’s set in New Orleans and hurricane Katrina is the backdrop. It’s about prostitution, guns and New Orleans and that whole underground world.

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