Baywatch – Zac Efron and Dwayne Johnson

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INTERVIEW WITH

ZAC EFRON & DWAYNE JOHNSON

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David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson, and the bright sunshine of a Californian beach – for many, that is what the Baywatch television show was all about – okay, that and tight swimsuits… let’s not try to pretend that this wasn’t a television show that was aimed at the teenage boys going through puberty.

Well, now Baywatch is back – this time on the big screen and this time with a very different slant on things. This time, Baywatch is not trying to be serious – no instead the film takes the show in the same direction that we saw 21 Jump Street go… yes, Baywatch is now an action-comedy.

When asked about he describes the film, star Zac Efron laughs, “It’s like The Avengers on the beach,” he says, laughing out loud. “Baywatch is a very specific group of life-guards who watch Emerald Bay and they do a lot of kick-ass saves.”

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In Baywatch, Efron plays troubled, former Olympian, Matt Brodie, whose party lifestyle has ruined his swimming career and now being lifeguard is his last chance. “My character Matt Brodie has kind of been forced into Baywatch,” he explains. “He doesn’t really want to be there, he’s there because he is technically on parole. He’s done some illegal stuff during the Olympics and he has gotten into big trouble and it was either this or working on the side of the road or jail or some other kind of community service, so he picked Baywatch, which is kind of his punishment. So he joins the group and almost immediately thinks that everybody is taking themselves way too seriously.”

…continued below…

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That leads Efron to talk about the character that takes ‘seriousness’ to a whole new level – Mitch (Dwayne Johnson). “Mitch is like Poseidon,” says Efron laughing again. “He’s like he represents the ocean and everything about him is oceanic, so he’s become, like, it’s protector and he now has this spiritual connection with it. It’s like he can do everything but talk to dolphins. Mitch’s relationship with Brodie – well, at first, they really don’t get along… not at all. It all seems so unnecessary to Brodie and really forced and fake. He’s looking from the audience’s perspective and he can see how ridiculous this all is and it just seems like they are all trying way too hard. He doesn’t know how to take it so he just treats it for what it is – a bit of a joke. But as it progresses, he comes to really respect Mitch.”

Aside from trying to win over the respect of his superior, Matt’s other major storyline is his romance with Summer (Alexandra Daddario) and that again brings a smile to Efron’s face as he talks about it. “It’s still budding, we are still working it out,” he says. “Brodie initially sees Summer coming in from a surf session so she is definitely like an ocean girl, and she has had her heart set on being part of Baywatch for a long time and it turns out she was saved by Mitch when she was out with her marine biology class one day. So she has wanted to do this for a long time.”

Reprising the role of Mitch Buchannon – made famous by The Hoff himself – is Dwayne Johnson, and he says he was really pleased to be asked to be part of the film. “It is the most successful television show in the history of TV,” he says, really excited. “So to be able to take it and retell it in the form of a movie and try to put our own spin on it and make it so grounded while still winking at the audience… that lets everybody know that we are in this for the fun. I really wanted to make an homage to the original spirit of the show. The spirit of the TV show was that you had these characters who were exceptional at what they did.”

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They looked great on the beach and they looked great in slo-mo, but they were awesome at what they did. We wanted to capture the spirit of that because you really want to root the film in a nice foundation that has some depth to it. Baywatch is a group of individuals who will go way above what is asked of them for the protection of something much bigger and the protection of something much bigger than them is our natural resources – it’s our beach, our water, Mother Nature; and the people that enjoy the beach, the water, and Mother Nature. So we are there to serve and protect.”

Johnson says that, like the film itself, there is a different slant when it comes to his Mitch Buchannon. “I play Mitch Buchannon,” he says. “Mitch Buchannon was made famous by David Hasselhoff and my version of Mitch Buchannon is a man that cares deeply about his beach and deeply about the people on the beach and the families on the beach. He just wants everybody to have fun.”

So what can Johnson tell us about two of the most iconic things from the television show – the women and the slo-mo runs? “Every girl here is perfectly cast, every girl is perfect for her character. And each single one of our women are strong, smart, funny and cool, and relentlessly sexy. So there is sexy, and then when there is relentlessly sexy, it is game over. All of those girls are great… Zac included! Obviously one of the most iconic things about Baywatch was the slo-mo running and we couldn’t wait to put it in our movie… everything is better in slo-mo. “

Baywatch is in cinemas now through Paramount Pictures.

Written by Dave Griffiths

 

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