Following the screening of Charlie St. Cloud, I attended the junket for the film at the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey along with 8 mom bloggers from across the country. Within 24 hours, we got the chance to see the film ( second time around's a charm ), attend a cocktail party, enjoy a morning to ourselves (I spent the time walking along the marina and beach, snapping photos along the way) and then the big moment arrived. It was time to interview the cast and producers.
Our first roundtable chat began with the stars of the film, Zac Efron and Charlie Tahan. The pair portray Charlie and Sam, two brothers whose lives are irrevocably changed when they are involved in a car accident and Charile makes a promise to his younger brother that he will never leave him. While Charlie is brought back to life, his younger brother doesn't make it. In a strange twist of fate, Charlie is reunited with Sam every evening in the woods near the cemetery where he is buried. And rather than head off to college on a sailing scholarship, Charlie chooses a different path so that he can see Sam every night for a game of catch.
Here are some of the highlights from our Q&A session with Zac and Charlie:
Question: How did you both prepare emotionally for this role? Dealing with death and dying? Zac: When I read the script, it was something I noticed, everyone at some point in their life experiences loss and has to go through that. I think everyone has also seen that person who has never really been able to bounce back from that and when I looked at the character and what was happening, it was very easy for me to picture my life without my brother and how that would make me feel and that guilt and that responsibility. I feel very responsible for my brother and I try and protect him every chance I get. I'm very protective over him and just thought in some ways whatever it took to (think about) leaving him behind, is all that I needed to get there emotionally. And not to mention he looks a lot like him (Charlie). (Incidentally, Zac's brother Dylan is now 18 years old).
Q. Did your moms both see the film and did they cry? Charlie - There were a couple of scenes where we cried. When we were exiting the woods and there was violin music, I saw one little tear. My mom cries at everything. She cried at the end of the Sponge Bob movie. Zac - My mom hasn't seen it yet but she cries a lot in movies.
Q. What did you have the most fun doing during the film? Charlie - The rain scene (the brothers go sliding through the mud on garbage can lids). Zac - I really liked the scene at the beginning of the movie where we were playing catch on the street. I just think for some reason there was something about that location that was really beautiful and it brought me back to playing catch with my dad which are some of my fondest memories, I think. That's exactly what we would do - we'd just go into the street and play catch. It was just so real and I haven't seen that in movies a whole heck of a lot.
Q. What about the characters were most like you? Charlie: Well mostly the way he said things. I didn't really change the voice or anything or the personality. Zac: At the beginning of the movie he didn't have all the advantages that a lot of kids have. He didn't grow up wealthy but he's sort of playing the dad for his little brother and trying to raise him into the man he knows he can be and teach him sort of rules. Like if you put your heart and soul into something and you really commit and give it 110 percent then you can be the best at anything you want to do. And you can make it in this world and all of the hardship that we've had to deal with so far, is out the window because you're going to make it and you can do whatever you want to do - make it out of this town. And I've always had that sort of philosophy in me. My dad instilled that in me - he always made me believe that I could really do whatever I wanted to do and I really believed it. It was the most powerful thing for me when I was growing up.
Q. Do you believe in ghosts - did you get creeped out in the cemetery? Zac: When we were in the graveyard most of the time it wasn't that scary because there were so many people out there. It was actually a really lovely place. However, one night, we did a lot of night shoots and at around 4 in the morning me and Amanda were kind of falling asleep and we said let's go do something so we said, do you want to walk into the graveyard? So we left set for a little while and kind of got lost in the graveyard and suddenly it was very scary. You realize - we couldn't even see the lights from set anymore and it was thick fog. Vancouver gets that really thick fog - and it was very very scary. Charlie: It wasn't really scary spooky scenes in the graveyard it was mostly him seeing his friends who were dead.
Q. What was it like having Kim Basinger play your mother in the film? Zac: It was weird, she was too pretty. At the same time it was amazing - she was so warm and open and sharing. Every time we had scenes together I couldn't wait to get out there because in between takes rather than going off and doing something, I would just sit and talk with her because she's so amazing. She's got this magnetic personality, you don't really want to leave her alone. She's very very cool.
Q. What was it like working with Ray Liotta? Zac: He's like the opposite - just kidding. No he's not. He's awesome first of all and he's so funny and so smart and really and just knows everything to say that's cool. I don't know how you get like that. He's got like a swagger that he doesn't even know he posseses which is what makes it so cool. And he's never afraid to improv or go outside the script. And every scene he does he has a different approach to it. It's amazing what happens from one take to another. I don't know what goes on in his head but he's able to come at it from so many different angles. I learned a lot from working with him.
More interviews to come! In the meantime, check out the photo montage from the Charlie St. Cloud junket. The film opens nationwide in theaters July 30.