A bevy of hit films under his belt as choreographer, Adam Shankman has been solidified as one of Hollywood’s most sought out man for dance moves. But it’s been as a producer that Adam has really found his brand of movies. With his Offspring Entertainment, Adam and sister/producing partner Jennifer Gibgot have proven those flicks ‘funny with heart’ are the way to go. Certainly, the “Step Up” flicks have proven their eyes are on the prize.
Last year’s Hairspray (which Adam also directed) brought out a shining star in Zac Efron. Of course, Zac was already a bonafied teen hottie with the Disney “High School Musical” franchise; however, Hairspray showed him off to a whole new audience.
So it was that movie which both Jennifer and Adam wanted to continue the Zac/Offspring relationship. Jennifer shopped around to writers to find the perfect story for Mr. Efron to star in. She found it with 17 Again (See 6 new photos from the film). Sort of a reverse version of Big, Zac plays the younger version of Matthew Perry and faces what his teen life was like for the second time. Also, he re-evaluates his own adult life, his married life (Leslie Mann plays his wife) and help his son and daughter with their own teenage problems. How does Matthew become Zac? It’s a fading marriage and not living up to his expectations that he wishes he could do it over again.
ComingSoon.net was lucky enough to check out one of the last days of shooting on the set of 17 Again at the famous Santa Monica Pier in California. We also got to talk to Adam, Jennifer, Zac and his on-screen daughter, Michelle Trachtenberg.
Piecing together the cast came pretty easy for Adam, Jennifer and director Burr Stevens. For Michelle’s part, it was finding a great actress, but without the steaminess of a love connection. “We auditioned a lot of girls, and a lot of girls wanted the part,” says Jennifer. “And ultimately what we decided to do and I’m really happy that we did this was we had our top choices audition with Zac. There were two things; we wanted and this has always been important to Adam and I we have a pet peeve about this, when people cast kids that look nothing like the parents. So we wanted to cast kids that could be the daughter and son of Leslie Mann and Zac. And she was just the funniest with him without having any ”
“Sexual chemistry,” Adam added. “It became creepy. Which doesn’t mean and they adore each other. But some of the girls, you could tell, wanted to ‘get on it.'”
Jennifer continued, “Yeah, some girls were a little too much.”
Michelle told us working with Zac was all about the friendship the two gained, as well as the rest of the older actors. “I call him dad,” she joked referring to Zac playing her father in the movie (even though she’s two years older than him). “We sort of lucked out with a great cast of comedy people, working with Leslie Mann and Tom Lennon is sort of like a mini-little dream come true because you watch these actors and admire them and all their comedic abilities and I just kind of want to sit and look at them and see what they’re going to do.”
Only three years removed from age 17, Zac says even though he’s playing that age again in the movie, he’s not ready to re-live it in real life. “I was a very regular 17-year-old; I wasn’t fighting crime or anything. It seems, having just got out of there, I don’t know if I’m ready to go back. There’s already a few things that I know I’d do differently but that is, in no way, gonna make me go back.”
Going back to the dance is something Zac is ready to do and Adam is making sure 17 Again has at least one dance-ish number. “One of my assistants and choreographers from ‘Step Up,’ who I’ve been working with forever, came in and choreographed a cheer number for Zac, but then has a call-back later. One of the things that’s been so astonishing to watch about Zac is while he’s growing up, he’s doing something that’s almost impossible he’s getting better looking. And he’s getting nicer, and he could not be more normal. And people talk about that all the time. And no one believes it, but it’s the truth.”
No dancing mentioned with Michelle she plays the defiant teen in the flick, going out with the wrong guy. Trachtenberg’s view of Maggie – “She’s pretty cool. I have bright green extensions in or like black and blonde extensions in or burgundy ones. She’s a really fun girl, your typical 17-year-old girl, kind of rebelling against her parents. So she’s being inspired by her boyfriend who is a rebel with a tattoo and just sort of angry at her parents; [she] doesn’t understand why they’re getting divorced and trying to go through her everyday life not caring. It’s funny because even though Maggie rebels with her clothes, she’s much more soft-spoken.”
Soft-spoken, Adam Shankman is not he wants everyone to know what kind of movie 17 Again is going to be, and what kind of Zac Efron you’re going to see. “When he first turns 17, he’s got this old 1989 haircut that is not the cutest Zac you’ve ever seen. But he is quite shirtless in much of the movie, which the female fans are going to be quite happy with because the boy has been working quite hard on it.”
And the one thing about this movie that I’m really excited about is now that we’re almost done making it, we’re not making a teen movie,” notes Jennifer. “It’s definitely just a comedy, really. And I think people will discover that. The fun we’re having with this movie is we’re making fun of ourselves and the genre. Tom Lennon keeps saying, ‘Well, if your spirit guide wants you to be a big teenager, and for me to be your fake dad.’ We definitely are making fun of the fact that we are one of these switching movies.”