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The stars of The Paperboy, Lee Daniels’ Southern melodrama which is in Competition in Cannes, gathered in front of a packed press room on Thursday morning to talk about the drama, sex and nudity.
The film stars McConaughey as Ward Jansen, a journalist investigating a case involving a man on death row, Hillary Van Wetter (Cusack). A trailer-trash vixen named Charlotte Bless (Kidman) who is in love with Van Wetter is pushing for justice for her man. She also catches the eye of Jansen’s younger brother (Efron).
Kidman has some of the most memorable scenes in the film. In one, she is involved in a scene in a prison visiting room that involves no touching, and in another, her character urinates on Efron’s character after he gets a jellyfish sting. Reporters asked Kidman if she felt uncomfortable filming some of the more personal scenes.
“Strangely no, because I think I had to step into a place to play the character where I didn’t step out of it and look at myself, so it wasn’t hard to shoot,” she said.
Kidman wasn’t the only one revealing a little skin. Gray, who plays the Jansen family’s maid and cook, told the press that “Zac was in his underwear half the time.”
Efron also talked about playing his character, who is a bit directionless. “I don’t think I was supposed to be comfortable,” Efron told the room. “This character is learning the ways of the world. That can be uncomfortable.”
Director Daniels, who helmed 2009’s Precious, was quick to point out that Efron would be getting the camera’s attention no matter how much or how little clothing he was wearing. “He’s good looking. The camera cannot help but love him,” said Daniels. “And I’m gay, so what do you want?”
Efron, whose past work includes The Lucky One and 17 Again, told reporters that this film was taking him in a new direction as an actor.
“As much as I love everything I’ve done, this is a new frontier for me,” he said. “It’s incredibly fulfilling. It’s a dream. Hopefully, I can keep doing things like this.”
The Paperboy has its world premiere on Thursday, May 24, in Cannes.
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