Zac Efron might have broken his "High School Musical" boy stereotype when he starred in Lee Daniels' thriller "The Paperboy". Though the actor had proven that he could tackle a gritty role, director Daniels himself admitted that at first he doubted the former Disney hottie could fit the genre of his very adult movie.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Daniels opened up that he worried Efron couldn't pull off the part because of his Disney background. "I was so scared for Zac because he came from another world," the helmer said. "Zac's a Disney boy."
"It wasn't really about the acting, as I thought I could get the actor out of him, but whether he had it in him to work in the environment that I create that ultimately makes the magic on the screen," the filmmaker went on explaining.
The director of upcoming "The Butler" recalled his first impression on Efron while they were on the set. Remembering that the "Hairspray" star was helping with catering during the shooting, Daniels said, "He was a trooper, man. First day, he was ready to go to combat." After seeing Efron's spirit, Daniels eventually managed to build the chemistry with the young actor whom he said to have willingness to "work through your fear to find the truth."
Speaking about "The Paperboy", Daniels opened up that he was also so worried about what critics said to his film despite the fact that it received standing ovations at Cannes Film Festival. "I don't read reviews. I just can't, because it's too painful," he confessed. "It's like someone stabbing you in the gut."
Daniels remembered one negative review in Variety that broke his heart. "I call Nicole [Kidman]: 'Nicole, they hate us, they hate us, they hate us. The world hates us. I can't walk this. I can't do this'," he recalled the moment after reading the criticism. "When we got the 16-minute standing ovation, and the people spoke there, I didn't embrace it because I was too wrapped up in that review. It wrecked me."
"The Paperboy" opens in the U.S. theaters on Friday, October 5. Aside from Efron and Nicole Kidman, the thriller is supported by such famous stars as John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey, David Oyelowo and Macy Gray.