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Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra and the cast of Baywatch indulged in some good, clean fun Monday night at a special screening of the Paramount film in New York City. Despite plunging necklines on the red carpet and “cadaver penis” jokes onscreen, the actors reassured the public that the reboot isn’t too raunchy for fans of the original series.
“Yes, it’s an R-rated comedy, but hey, it’s about time we saw a good penis in a movie!” Alexandra Daddario told The Hollywood Reporter at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema. Kelly Rohrbach also shot down the notion: “Can anything be too raunchy in 2017?”
Inspired by the long-running TV show, Seth Gordon’s action-comedy stars Dwayne Johnson as the leader of an elite group of lifeguards who is forced to team up with a hotshot former Olympian (Efron) to save the beloved bay. (The original series’ star David Hasselhoff makes a cameo.)
The raunchier take was Johnson’s idea. “We said, ‘If we’re gonna do it, let’s take a point of view, versus something that middles out,’” said Beau Flynn, who has produced four of Johnson’s films and has five more in the works. “And Dwayne’s never done an R-rated comedy before, and he’s always pushing his own limits. But we wanted to make it feel real — the humor is always story-driven and true to the characters, not just gross-out jokes.”
Series co-creator Michael Berk and writer Michele Berk admitted to initial nerves about upping the vulgarity. “But with this director, we knew it’d be funny but still balanced with integrity. It’s not The Hangover,” said Michele. Michael added, “You could make this PG by taking out some of the language and a few shots.”
That’s what’s being done for the movie’s India release, as it just cleared the country’s censorship system with a handful of minor trims — four verbal and one visual. It’s a sigh of relief for fans of Priyanka Chopra, the Bollywood superstar and lead of ABC’s Quantico who makes her Hollywood feature debut in Baywatch. “It’s my 51st movie, but I love that my first American film is a fun, summer movie,” she told THR. “I knew it was gonna take a toll in India, but I’m really glad [it’s getting released] because Baywatch was a big deal there when I was growing up.”
Plus, since she’s playing a villainous character originally written for a male actor, Chopra hopes the movie draws a female viewership. “For so many years, the show was only [gazing at] the women. This time, we’re definitely making it about the men, too. Payback, bitches!”
After the screening — presented by The Cinema Society with Hugo by Hugo Boss, Women’s Health & Svedka — guests including John Leguizamo, Carla Gugino and Paul Haggis headed to the Mr. Purple afterparty on the Lower East Side.
Baywatch hits theaters May 26.
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Sundance Film Festival