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July 2007
HAIRSPRAY: Interview with Nikki Blonsky and Zac Efron

HAIRSPRAY: Interview with Nikki Blonsky and Zac Efron
By Nicole Schmuelian

July 19, 2007

When John Waters first created “Hairspray” for the big screen and it became overnight cult sensation, little did he know that someday it would become a megahit musical on Broadway and gain wide appreciation. I’m also sure he didn’t know that they would re-do the film from the musical. Nevertheless, every part was re-cast and the role of Tracy Tunblad would be beneficial to anyone who played it as well as the role of the boyfriend, Link Larkin. Nikki Blondsky, who hails from Greak Neck, Long Island, won the part and has electrified the film with passion. For Zac Efron, who has already received his fame from “High School Musical”, this is another opportunity for a wider audience to see how good he is as an actor and singer as he plays Link. In speaking with blackfilm.com, both Blondsky and Efron discuss their roles and experience on the film.

The director was talking about how you were an inspiration to work with? Can you tell us what enjoyed about the film?

Nikki Blonsky: Well, my favorite part, honestly, about being apart of this experience was playing Tracy, and bringing her message to life. There is no better message then acceptance for everybody, the message of following our dreams, or loving yourself for who you are. So being able to play Tracy and bring those messages to the big screen and to all the viewers out there is really the most important thing for me. And you know, of course, working with this incredible cast and not only just getting to work with these amazing actors but getting to know them for the people they really are.

Assuming that you both saw the original, how did you try to remake your characters?

Zac Efron: I never played a character that has been previously played by great actors. I felt like I definitely wanted to stay true Link Larkin. He is an established character and that is how I wanted to play him. But at the same time every actor likes to bring a little bit of spice, and their own new thing. Luckily, I had a great song written by Mark Shaiman and Scott Wittman and that’s all it took for me. That was all I needed.

Nikki Blonsky: For me I was a bring fan of Ricki Lake and her version but I really wanted to make Tracy real and relatable. Not just for the sixties but for 2007, and I wanted kids to relate to her and reach out to her. So far it seems like people are having fun with her. She is a real person and that’s the main key it is just making her available for people to understand.

Do you have a favorite scene in the movie?

Nikki Blonsky: I do, my favorite scene is with Christopher Walken when I am sitting on his lap because it reminds me a lot of my real Dad. My Dad and I are really close; he is one of my best friends. It reminded me of all those times when I was a little kid and I use to sit on my Dads’ lap. It meant a lot to me. And Christopher is not only one of the greatest actors of all time he is also one of the sweetest men. It was really an honor and a privilege for me to get to know him on that level.

What were the work days like on this film?

Zac Efron: It depended on what we were doing. Whether, it was a scenes or a musical number. Surprisingly enough I think the musical numbers we flew through because we were so rehearsed.

Nikki Blonsky: I worked 64 out of 66 work days. I was working anywhere from 15 to 18 hours a day because when I wasn’t shooting I would be rehearsing or in the recording studio. As for all of us when we weren’t on set our weekends were spent recording the album.

Nikki, you said you wanted to bring the film into the present for the audience. What do you think the differences are in what people might expect and what the message might be that reaches them between the then and the now?

Nikki Blondsky: I think we have come so far in history, but yet we still have so far to go with the acceptance of other people. And we have a lot of room to grow as a society. Unfortunately, today some people deal with some of the issues in Hairspray, of not being accepted for who they are. For me it was important, especially little kids out there all they see is this stereotypical portrayal of a Hollywood star. And they only think that it is possible to be a star if you look this way or act this way. I really want to prove to them that you can be who you are, you can be following your dreams, you can be proud of who you are and they can come true. It’s about self acceptance and self love and acceptance of everyone else.

Zac, can you talk about falling in love with someone who is not the traditional?

Zac Efron: I actually tend to go for girls like Tracy. It is great that Hairspray can communicate these messages through music. It’s not about being that tall, skinny, perfect blonde in Hollywood. It’s about character, it’s about your hobbies and it’s about how fun of a person you are. I think that’s what really hits home for me with the Tracy Turnblad story. And I am glad I get to play Link the guy who communicates that.

I was wondering if you received any advice from Ricki Lake before shooting?

Nikki: The first time I met Ricki was three quarters of the way through the filming process, so I met her towards the latter part of it. Rather then giving me advice on how to play the part because she really said play it your own way as did John Waters with Adman Shankman, our director. Ricki just shared her experiences of making the movie and hearing her experiences and how the movie has changed her life and what it has done for her career gave me inspiration.

Do you anticipate that you may face difficulties in casting because of stereotypes and because of what Hollywood puts out there by way of images of people?

Nikki: I think there will only be difficulties for myself if I let there be. I am a big believer in you create your own destiny and you make your own life. The bottom line is, when I see stereotypes I think of god and then I look at people like Queen Latifah, who has made her stamp on Hollywood. She continuously is casted in movies for her character, her persona and her talent. It is about a performance people don’t leave a movie saying, “oh they looked beautiful while playing the role.” It’s not about what you looked like while playing it, it’s how you played the role. People remember the performance, so I think it will only be difficult to be cast in films if I let it be difficult. I’m going to let me talent shine through and work my hardest to play good characters.

This is financially going to be a very successful film, so will you be geared up to filming a lower budget film now?

Zac Efron: I think we are so lucky to be doing what we do. This is a dream come true and it is a stretch for me to call it work. We got to sing and dance our way through the greatest job ever. The budget doesn’t matter you will always will have a director, a director of production, camera and a script.

Nikki Blonsky: Yeah, it’s about the script and the character. It’s about your experience with it rather than, whether it is a seventy-five million dollar movie or a two-million dollar movie. It’s not about the budget.

How do you keep yourself grounded?

Zac Efron: We have great families and people are behind us all the time. Honestly, it would be really hard to get a big head in this business. I now Nikki’s family and they would bring us right back down. Also both of us lived a very normal childhood, and I think that is very important. I went to public school up until my senior year, and I had no idea this business existed. Of course, Nikki is very similar.

Nikki Blonsky: And we keep each other grounded.

Zac Efron: We do.

Are you very good friends now?

Nikki Blonsky: Yeah, we have been on this press tour together and we are in this movie together. We are buds till the end.






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